World Heritage Site Current Affairs

Okinoshima Island: Japan’s men-only island gets UNESCO heritage tag

Okinoshima Island, Japan’s men-only island was declared as a UNESCO world heritage site. The island will be the 17th set of Japanese cultural assets to be granted this status and overall 21st in the list.

The island is part of the prefecture’s Munakata region. It is located in south-west Japan between the main island of Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). It still follow strict taboos from ancient times, including the controversial ban on women from entering the island

Okinoshima Island

Okinoshima Island is an ancient religious site in Japan that is considered sacred by the local Munakata Taisha. Entries of women are strictly banned on the island. Even male visitors need to take off their clothes and take a naked bath (purifying bath) before visiting the shrine.

It is permanently manned by a Shinto priest who prays the island’s goddess, in a tradition that has been kept up for centuries. The entire island is considered a Shinto Kami, an ethnic religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. Kami are the spirits or phenomena that are worshipped in the religion of Shinto.

The island covers an area of 240 acres and has a maximum elevation of 244 m. Since ancient times, it was an important window for foreign trade in Japan, forming part of a trade route that linked the archipelago to the Korean peninsula and China.

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Nalanda Mahavihara enters UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list

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.

Key Facts

  • 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.

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