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Heritage expert inspects Nalanda Univarsity ruins for UNESCO tag

nalanda university

Patna: An expert from Paris-based International Council of Monuments and Sites is currently visiting the ruins of the Nalanda University to evaluate India’s bid to get the the ancient site inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

“ICOMOS expert Masaya Masui has inspected the site at Nalanda to examine the details that we have mentioned in the nomination dossier. He toured and evaluated the site for the coveted tag, yesterday and today,” ASI Patna Circle’s Superintending Archaeologist, H A Naik, said.

The ancient seat of learning, said to one of the world’s oldest universities, construction of which began in 6th century AD, flourished under the Gupta Empire. Its end came in 12th century when it was ransacked, looted and burnt in 1193 AD by the invading Turk Army led by its commander Bakhtiar Khilji.

Nalanda is the entry this year from the country for the UNESCO tag in the cultural heritage segment in pursuance of which the Ministry of Culture through the Archaeological Survey of India had sent an over ‘200-page-long’ nomination dossier on January 23.

ICOMOS’ report on the site evaluation will have a bearing on its final fate, which will be decided by UNESCO next year.

The Paris-based NGO, founded in 1965, provides the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee with evaluations of cultural and mixed properties proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List.

Masaya, who arrived in Nalanda, about 90 km from Patna, yesterday, is also scheduled to meet Chief Secretary of Bihar government in Patna during his three-day visit which ends tomorrow.

Besides, Naik, others who accompanied the visiting expert at the site included Director, World Heritage at the ASI headquarters, Janhwij Sharma.

“Professor Masaya took tour of the ancient university and we received quite positive feelers from him. He even wrote in the visitor’s book that this was his third visit to Nalanda,” a senior ASI official said.

Bihar currently has over 70 ASI-protected heritage monuments and sites under the Patna Circle, and only one UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya in Gaya district. The Nalanda ruins, which falls under this Circle, is spread over 23 hectares.

According to Naik, “The first excavation at the site was carried out from 1915-1937, followed by from 1972-1984 and the last one from 2010-2014. And, ASI’s efforts over the decades have been documented.”

The ASI Patna Circle on the occasion has also put on display over 30 pictures which include 15 rare photographs taken during the excavation works from early 1910s to 1937. Besides, sketches, depicting site plan, elevation, etc, dating back to same period have also been put up.

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