Published: 26th October 2021
Will Tagore's Visva-Bharati be declared World Heritage Site? Here's why UNESCO delegation visited varsity
Renovation of various traditional buildings and invaluable sculptures within the varsity underway, the central government sanctioned about Rs 3 crore for this project
Last month, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Visva-Bharati University prepared a dossier and sent it across to UNESCO for it to recognise the varsity as a World Heritage Site. On October 25, a delegation from UNESCO visited the varsity established by Rabindranath Tagore in West Bengal to assess technical details.
The seven-member team, comprising members of two advisory bodies including the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), that was earlier supposed to visit Shantiniketan between September 28 and October 3, arrived will be staying back for two days. The team was accompanied by representatives from ASI.
The seven-member team also visited traditional landmarks within the Visva-Bharati University such as the Kanch Mandir Upsana Griha, Shantiniketan Bari (the first building that housed Debendranath Tagore and his family after Bhubandanga was bought by him), Uttarayan complex, Kala Bhavana, Sangeet Bhavana and all other structures built by Rabindranth Tagore as part of his dream university. It is noteworthy that before visiting these landmarks, the team met with Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty at the central office.
This is the Union Culture Ministry's second appeal to the UN body in order to secure the status of a World Heritage Site for Santiniketan. A nominated property is independently evaluated by two advisory bodies, mandated by the World Heritage Convention — the ICOMOS and the IUCN. They provide the committee with evaluations of the cultural and natural sites nominated, respectively.
The original application in 2010 had been pushed to the "tentative" list after a technical evaluation of the site by the ICOMOS pointed out that development pressure on the campus had tampered with the site's heritage value. An ASI team, led by its Director General Vidya Vidyanathan, camped at the university in January to prepare the report it filed last month keeping in mind the questions that were raised the last time. External heritage conservation experts were roped in to assist them.
Renovation of various traditional buildings and invaluable sculptures scattered all over the university is underway and the central government sanctioned about Rs 3 crore for this purpose. A total of 24 buildings and architectural renovations that have the potential to be collectively listed as World Heritage Site are under renovation. The varsity authorities have also formed their own committee for this very purpose. The officials said, "We are very excited. The place is historically important, and it deserves the honour. We hope that this time the UNESCO World Heritage Committee makes their decision in favour of the university."