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Shantiniketan, India's next World Heritage Site?

Last updated on: October 20, 2010 12:42 IST

Shantiniketan, India's next World Heritage Site?

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Shantiniketan, the abode of Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, and Western Ghats can well be the India's next World Heritage Sites, if UNESCO accepts the country's proposal.

Shantiniketan, which houses the world-famous Visva Bharati university and attracts thousands of tourists from across the globe every year, is India's official entry this year for UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.

Besides Shantiniketan, the Western Ghats has also been nominated for the World Heritage Site honour, a senior culture ministry official said.


Image: Students dance during Basanta Utsab celebrations in Shantiniketan
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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The towering Sahayadris are also nominated for the heritage honour

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"The government has submitted nomination dossiers of Shantiniketan (West Bengal) under culture category and the Western Ghats under natural category to the World Heritage Centre for their inclusion in the World Heritage List," the official said.

If Shantiniketan is selected, it will be West Bengal's third World Heritage Site after the Darjeeling mountain railways and Sundarbans national park.

The Archaeological Survey of India, the agency responsible for conservation and protection of monuments and nodal authority for making nominations to UNESCO, has sent the dossier to the UN agency in Paris.

The sprawling 150-acre campus and Western Ghats may be initially added to the temporary list of the Heritage sites as part of the procedure to be declared as a World Heritage site.

Image: The Sahyadri Mountains in Matheran, Maharashtra
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
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A tribute to Rabindranath Tagore

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Shantiniketan's nomination comes as the country gears up to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore, who penned India's national anthem.

Shantiniketan was earlier called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Dakat, a local dacoit), and was owned by the Tagore family. In 1862, Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, Rabindranath's father, gave the name Shantiniketan (abode of peace).

In 1901, Tagore started a school at Shantiniketan named Brahmachary Ashram modelled on the lines of the ancient gurukul system.


Image: : A street seller hawks clay models of Rabindranath Tagore near a museum in Shaniniketan
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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The third World Heritage Site in West Bengal

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After he received the Nobel Prize, the varsity was renamed Visva Bharati. Visva Bharati, now more than a hundred years old, is one of the most prestigious universities of India with degree courses in humanities, social science, science, fine arts, music, performing arts, education, agricultural science and rural reconstruction.

The Western Ghats also known as the Sahyadri Mountains, is a mountain range along the western side of India. It runs from north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The Ghats are a repository of flora and fauna and support some of the most threatened species in India.


Image: High school students sit under trees while they study in Shantiniketan
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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