Santiniketan receives recommendation for UNESCO World Heritage List

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Santiniketan, the tranquil home of Rabindranath Tagore, has received a recommendation for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. G. Kishan Reddy, India’s Union Culture Minister, announced on Wednesday that the international advisory body ICOMOS has endorsed Santiniketan for the prestigious designation. The formal confirmation is expected to take place in September during the World Heritage Committee meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.While Santiniketan encompasses a large area that includes the entire Visva-Bharati campus, the specific areas likely to be recognized are the core ashram area and the Uttarayan complex. The core ashram area features significant locations such as Patha Bhavana (Tagore’s first school), Upasana Griha (the glass temple), Kala Bhavana (institute of fine arts), Sangit Bhavana (institute of music), and Santiniketan Griha (Tagore’s father’s first house).

The Uttarayan complex comprises five houses of Tagore and a museum.The announcement has been met with joy by Visva-Bharati and cultural enthusiasts. However, some students and teachers emphasize the need for improving educational standards and restoring Visva-Bharati’s position in national rankings.Efforts to include Santiniketan in the UNESCO list began in 2010, and a fresh application was submitted last year, driven by the Indian government’s desire to achieve the recognition before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.The news was welcomed by the Bengal BJP, who praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his commitment to showcasing West Bengal’s cultural heritage. Union Home Minister Amit Shah also paid tribute to Tagore during his visit to Bengal.

However, the Trinamool Congress cautioned against the BJP’s attempt to claim credit for Santiniketan’s recognition, asserting that it had always been a cherished heritage site.Meanwhile, Trinamool criticized the BJP for not addressing the theft of Tagore’s Nobel medallion and other memorabilia from the Rabindra Bhavana museum in 2004. The CBI, which investigated the case, closed it due to a lack of leads but left the possibility of reopening if new developments arise.

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