A 30-member delegation team from UNESCO is likely to visit Santiniketan between September 28 and October 3 brightening up the prospect of Rabindranath Tagore-envisioned prestigious university Visva Bharati being included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This comes 11 years after the Union Culture Ministry appealed for the second time to secure the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site for Santiniketan to get recognition for Tagore’s cultural ark in the run-up to his 150th birth anniversary in 2010.
The original application in 2010 had been pushed to the “tentative” list after a technical evaluation of the site by the International Council on Monuments and Sites. It was then pointed out that development pressure on the campus had tampered with the site’s heritage value.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) with the help of Viswa Bharati University has prepare a fresh dossier and has already submitted it to UNESCO. An ASI team, led by its Director General Vidya Vidyanathan camped at the university in January to prepare the report, finding answers to the questions that were raised the last time. External heritage conservation experts were roped in to assist them.
“The visit of the team is significant because previously they had sent the application to the tentative list. We are making all sorts of arrangements so that this time the university gets the honour of the World Heritage Site,” a senior official of Visva Bharati University said.
The ASI team surveyed the “original” parts of the university, including the Kanch Mandir Upsana Griha, Santiniketan Bari (the first building that housed Debendranath Tagore and his family after Bhubandanga was bought by him), Uttarayan complex, Kala Bhavana, Sangeet Bhavan and all other structures built by Tagore as part of his dream university.
The team also scanned thousands of documents and video-graphed paintings, sculptures and artwork by Tagore and Bengal School stalwarts like Nandalal Bose, Ramkinker Baij and Benode Bihari.
Accordingly, renovation of various traditional buildings and invaluable sculptures scattered all over Visva Bharati 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 are going through entire renovation. The Visva Bharati authorities have also formed their own committee for this purpose.
Sources in the university said that the 30-member UNESCO delegation that is likely to visit Visva Bharati in September-October will look into all the aspects of Visva Bharati and decide whether it can be inscribed into the World Heritage List.
“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,” the official added.