Sarnath’s 23-year wait for place in UNESCO list grows longer | Varanasi News


Varanasi: The Rudreswara Temple, (also known as the Ramappa Temple) near Warangal in Telangana has been included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list on Sunday, but the ancient Buddhist site of Sarnath in Varanasi has been lagging behind for over two decades to be included in the World Heritage list.
The proposal of Sarnath was submitted in cultural category by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in July 1998, and since then it has been in UNESCO’s tentative list, while the Ramappa temple, a 13th century engineering marvel named after its architect, Ramappa, was proposed by the government as its only nomination for the UNESCO World Heritage site tag for the year 2019.
After attaining enlightenment in Bodh Gaya (Bihar), Buddha had preached his first sermons and set the wheel of Dhamma in motion at Sarnath in Varanasi. Situated around 8km from the Varanasi district headquarters, Sarnath has several monuments, which are divided into two groups. Under Group ‘A’ Chaukhandi Stupa and under Group ‘B’ all other monuments at the sites including stupas, monasteries, temples, etc.
Chaukhandi Stupa is a lofty brick structure crowned with an octagonal tower.
According to the description mentioned in the tentative list, the octagonal tower is a Mughal monument built by Goverdhan, the son of Raja Todarmal in AD 1588 to commemorate the visit of Humayun to this place. The second group, which contains remains of several stupas, monasteries and Ashokan columns are built in brick and stone and datable from the 3rd century BC to 12th century AD, forms the major and important segment of the site. The Ashokan column Dharamrajika stupa, Dhameka stupa, the remains of the temple and a series of monasteries and votive stupas are the most important remains of the site.
“We had prepared a dossier of the Sarnath Buddhist sites for the main list of UNESCO’s World Heritage and sent it to the directorate in 2020,” superintending archaeologist of ASI Sarnath circle NK Sinha told TOI on Monday.
According to sources, the dossier is yet to be sent to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO for nomination in the heritage list.
Meanwhile, the iconic riverfront of Varanasi has also been included in the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage on April 13 this year after the proposal was submitted by the permanent delegation of India to UNESCO.
As per operational guidelines, it is mandatory to put any monument/site on the tentative list before it is considered for the final nomination dossier. As per rules, any country can submit the nomination dossier after one year of it being on the tentative list.

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