Nalanda in Bihar became the second UNESCO World Heritage Site on Friday after persistent efforts by the ASI to get the ruins included in the list.
Nalanda Mahavira is now India’s 33rd
World Heritage Site.
On its website UNESCO describes Nalanada as “the most ancient university of the Indian Subcontinent”.
Located 95 kilometres southeast of Patna, Nalanda was a great place of learning for both Buddhist and Vedica disciplines. Built sometime in the 6th
century AD, during the Gupta empire, Nalanda was visited by scholars from as far as Korea. Chinese traveler Huen Tsang wrote about Nalanda’s greatness as a centre of learning during his visit to India.
The great centre of learning was destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji, a general of Mohammed Ghori, in 1193 AD.
According to reports, UNESCO placed Nalanda in the list after Vietnam and Thailand moved a proposal in India’s favour.
It took India some effort to get the ancient university into the list. Indian Express reports
that International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) had some doubts over the inclusion of the university which made India’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO in Paris, Ruchira Kamboj, take a delegation of ASI officials to convince the authorities of the historical and cultural importance of the site.