After Nalanda, Sikkim park, Chandigarh building in World Heritage Site list

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 18, 2016 18:06 IST
Participants at Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex rehearse for Yoga Day in June 2016. (Keshav Singh/ HT photo)

India over the weekend added a building complex designed by Swiss-French architecture pioneer Le Corbusier in Chandigarh and a national park in Sikkim to its list of world heritage sites.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, or Unesco, on Sunday approved both the sites, two days after giving nod to the archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) in Bihar, approving all the three nominations sent by India -- a rare honour.

This is the first time that any country has got three sites included in a single session of the Unesco’s world heritage committee. The committee met in Istanbul.

A world heritage site is a place (such as a building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, or mountain) which Unesco sees as being of special cultural or physical significance.

India now has 35 (27 cultural and seven natural sites and one mixed) heritage sites recognised by Unesco, opening up the chance of more funding for conservation.

Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex was among the 17 Le Corbusier works listed by the Paris-based body on Sunday, which said the sites spread over seven countries were a “testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past”.

“The Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh (India), the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Japan), the House of Dr Curutchet in La Plata (Argentina) and the Unite dhabitation in Marseille (France) reflect the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20th century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society.

“These masterpieces of creative genius also attest to the internationalisation of architectural practice across the planet,” it said in a statement.

The Capitol Complex

Spread over more than 100 acres in Sector 1, the Capitol Complex was in news when it hosted the International Yoga Day event on June 21 that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The complex houses the Punjab and Haryana high court, the secretariats and assembly buildings of both the states.

The famous Open Hand Monument that has come to symbolise Chandigarh and “the hand to give and the hand to take; peace and prosperity, and the unity of mankind” is also part of the complex. Martyrs Memorial, Geometric Hill and Tower of Shadow are the other buildings.

Khangchendzonga park

Sikkim’s Khangchendzonga National Park is home to the world’s third highest peak, Mount Khangchendzonga. The park includes a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests.

“Mythological stories are associated with this mountain and with a great number of natural elements (e.g. caves, rivers, lakes, etc.) that are the object of worship by the indigenous people of Sikkim. The sacred meanings of these stories and practices have been integrated with Buddhist beliefs and constitute the basis for Sikkimese identity,” the statement said.


Nalanda stands out as one of the most ancient universities in South Asia, Unesco said in a release.

“Archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara comprises the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE,” it said.

The site includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal.

“The university engaged in the organised transmission of knowledge over an uninterrupted period of 800 years. The historical development of the site testifies to the development of Buddhism into a religion and the flourishing of monastic and educational traditions,” the release said.

With agency inputs

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