Santiniketan finds a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while expressing happiness over the developments said that Santiniketan was “nurtured by the poet and has been supported by people of Bengal over the generations”.

September 17, 2023 07:14 pm | Updated 11:01 pm IST - New Delhi

Credit: Twitter/UNESCO

Credit: Twitter/UNESCO

Santiniketan, a town located in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, set up by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore on September 17 made it to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Santiniketan which means ‘abode of peace’ started taking shape in 1901, and it was this place Tagore later put up the foundations of Visva Bharati University.

“New inscription on the @UNESCO #WorldHeritage List: Santiniketan, #India . Congratulations!” the world body said. Santiniketan will be India’s 41st World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while expressing happiness over the developments, said that Santiniketan was “nurtured by the poet and has been supported by people of Bengal over the generations”. “We from the Government of West Bengal have significantly added to its infrastructure in the last 12 years and the world now recognizes the glory of the heritage place. Kudos to all who love Bengal, Tagore, and his messages of fraternity. Jai Bangla, Pranam to Gurudev,” Ms. Banerjee said on social media platform ‘X’.

 The dossier by the Ministry of Culture proposing Santiniketan in the UNESCO World Heritage List points out that the “place exhibits an important interchange in human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design”. 

Attempts to get Santiniketan inscribed in the World Heritage List have been going on since 2010.

 “Work on the latest proposal for nomination of Santiniketan as UNESCO World Heritage Site began in the financial year 2020-21. Santiniketan stands out as a unique cultural destination, where Rabindranath Tagore tried to bring the world together through architectural, arts and the landscape design,” said Subha Majumder, Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) who worked on the restoration of several structures of Santiniketan.

 Over the past few years, the ASI has also worked on the restoration of several structures in Santiniketan Griha, Konark, Upasana Griha Purba and Paschim Toran among others.

Santiniketan, earlier known as Bhubadanga, was owned by the Tagore family. In 1862, on a boat journey to Raipur, Rabindranath Tagore’s father Debendranath Tagore spotted this landscape of red soil and lush paddy fields and decided to build an ‘Ashram (hermitage)‘ . He built a house Santiniketan “abode of peace “ that stands even today. The area was renamed Santiniketan as he found the place conducive to meditation. 48 years later in 1901, Rabindranath Tagore choose a vast tract of land and started a school on the ‘Brahmachary Ashram’ modelled on the ancient Indian Gurukul system. The school was later upgraded to a University and was renamed Visva Bharati that was described by the poet as “where the world makes a home in the nest”.

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