Places in News Current Affairs - 2019
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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN cultural agency added nine new sites on its World Heritage List.
Decision in this regard was taken at the 40th session of The World Heritage Committee meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. With these inclusions, the recorded sites on the World Heritage now stand at 981 which include both cultural and natural wonders.
9 new World Heritage Sites are
- Old city of Ani (Turkey): It is Turkish province of Kars. Once it had served as the capital of the Armenian kingdom in the 10th century.
- Zuojiang Huashan rock art cultural landscape (China): Dates back to the 5th century BC. The landscape straddles steep cliffs in southwest China and represent the only trace left of the Luoyue people.
- Qanat (Iran): They are ancient aqueducts trapped into alluvial aquifer and transported water underground across vast valleys. It helps in sustaining agricultural life and settlements in the arid areas.
- Nalanda Mahavihara (India): It is an archaeological site having remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century BC to the 13th century AD.
- Artificial islets of Nan Madol (Micronesia): They are 99 artificial islets made of basalt and coral boulders. They are home to ruins ranging from temple to tombs dating between 1200 and 1500 AD.
- Stecci Sites: Located in Bosnia, central and western Montenegro, southern Croatia and western Serbia.They are medieval tombstones and graveyards carved from limestone, they feature decorative motives and inscriptions.
- Ancient Philippi (Spain): It is Greek archaeological site founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II. It is located in the present-day region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace.
- Antequera Dolmens (Spain): It is comprises of three megalithic monuments as well as two natural mountainous formations.
- Gorham’s Cave Complex (Britain): They are natural sea caves in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. The site provides evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 125,000 years.
About UNESCO World Heritage List
- The UNESCO World Heritage Site list includes sites of special cultural or physical significance.
- The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
- The committee comprises of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
- Each World Heritage Site included in the list remains part of the legal territory of the state where it is located.
- But inclusion of sites in the list by UNESCO is in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
- Presently, Italy with 50 sites is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites.
The ruins of ancient Nalanda Mahavihara (also known as old Nalanda University) of Bihar has been included in the List of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
Nalanda Mahavihara ruins comprise the archaeological remains of monastic-cum-scholastic from the 5th century BC to the 13th century AD.
It located near Patna, state capital of Bihar and is 26th cultural site of India to get prestigious world heritage status.
- Nalanda Mahavihara was founded by Kumargupta I of the Gupta dynasty in 5th century CE. It was the earliest planned university of the Indian subcontinent.
- It was patronized by various rulers including King Harshavardhana of Kannauj (7th century CE) and the Pala rulers (8th to 12th century CE) as well as various scholars.
- Nalanda was considered as a rare combination of outstanding achievements in institution-building, site-planning, art and architecture.
- It had attracted scholars from the Indian subcontinent and beyond and received patronage of local rulers and foreign kings for period of 800 years.
- Students were admitted in this university after rigorous evaluation only. It imparted knowledge related to Buddhism, contemporary texts and philosophies, logic, grammar, science, and medicine.
- Presently, it is preserved in number of remains of stupas (temple-like structure), shrines and viharas (residential-cum-scholastic structure) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal.
Note: Nalanda University is the second World Heritage site in Bihar after Bodhgaya’s Mahabodhi temple to be accorded UNESCO’s World Heritage Site tag. This status will help in conservation and protection of the site in better way and also increase funds from the UNESCO.