Ten Sites under UNESCO RADAR PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Suresh Bhatia   
Thursday, 10 December 2009 20:48
Ten Sites under UNESCO RADAR

Altogether ten heritage sites and monuments of the state will be in contention for UNESCO’s World Heritage Status this year.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Patna Circle has sent a list of ten Buddhist and Muslim period sites, including the silk route sites, to be included in the ‘tentative list’ to be released by UNESCO in the future.

The list includes the rock cut caves of Barabar in Jehanabad, shershah’s mausoleum at Sasaram, Nalanda and Rajgir besides the Silk route sites like Vaishali and Vikramashila. The other two sites are Sarnath and Kushinagar; both these two sites recommended by ASI are in Uttar Pradesh.

Till date the Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya has been the only monument to have attained the UNESCO notified world heritage status in Bihar. “This year the UNESCO Gazetteer of world heritage sites has also included a slot for the sites believed to have been on the silk route. This category includes places of importance between Arabia and China via India, the route was also followed by the early Chinese Pilgrims Fa Hian (late 4th Century CE) and Huien Tsang (7th Century CE) and later by I Tsing among others. Dr. S.K. Manjul, S superintending Archaeologist of the ASI, said.

Among the recommended sites, the Barabar caves, for instance have been identified as the first architectural caves made for the Buddhist monks by King Asoka in the 3rd Century BC and still retains the fine polish which is unmatched to this day.

The proposed sites by Patna Circle were discussed at a meeting held in China recently. Several more meetings are required before the tentative list is drawn up and the final selections are done thereon. The final list may be declared by April-May 2010.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times, Patna

Is Kesarya Stupa eligible for World Heritage Status?

 - A Buddhist Heritage Desk Report

The Buddhist Heritage Research Team has its own views about which Buddhist site should be granted the status of World Heritage site by UNESCO. In the very short list drawn up by us, there are only three that qualify for this distinction:
(1) Kesarya
(2) Kolhua/Vesali
(3) Sarnath.

Kesarya, as already listed in the Content of our website relates to an event in the life of the Buddha. It was at this site that the ‘Begging bowl’ of the Buddha was buried by the people of Vesali. Further in time, near about the 7th Century CE, the king of Java, impressed by the magnificence of this Stupa commissioned the building of the Borobudur stupa in his own country. The Borobudur stupa is held in high esteem in Buddhist history and has been included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, while on the other hand the Stupa that inspired its creation continues to remain in oblivion, partly excavated and hardly visited by pilgrims.

Kolhua/Vesali stands as our second choice primarily that Kings and rich merchants continued to build/restore Viharas even in the later centuries – thereby preserving the history of the site as the venue of the Buddha’s final ‘Rain retreat’ and also of the place where he declared his forthcoming Mahaparinirvana.

Sarnath undoubtedly deserves the attention of UNESCO as this was the site where the Blessed One turned the ‘Wheel of the Dhamma’ to his five Disciples for the first time. The only discredit to the site is that the British Archaeologists never undertook a serious excavation of the site – they merely removed the upper layers of soil to expose the projecting stupas. Hence the site has never been properly excavated or its actual history brought to light. However, if the site attains the status of World Heritage sites, we will be the last people to protest.
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 December 2009 21:01