NEW DELHI: The ruins of Nalanda University will be inspected by an expert team from the Paris-based International Council of Monuments and Sites which will also hold talks with senior Bihar government officials this week in pursuance of the bid to get a UNESCO World Heritage tag for the ancient site.
The Ministry of Culture through the Archaeological Survey of India had sent an over "200-page-long" nomination dossier on January 23 and officials and staff at ASI's Patna Circle are upbeat about the team's visit.
"An expert team from ICOMOS will be visiting Nalanda to carry out the inspection of the ancient site and examine the details that we have mentioned in the dossier. Our nomination bid will be examined under Criteria 4 and 6 of the UNESCO norms. The team will visit Nalanda from August 26 to August 27," ASI Patna Circle's Superintending Archaeologist, H A Naik, told PTI over phone from Patna.
The ancient seat of learning, said to one of the world's oldest universities, construction of which began in 6th century AD flourished under the Gupta Empire. Its end came in 12 century when it was ransacked, looted and burnt in 1193 AD by the invading Turk Army led by its commander Bakhtiar Khilji.
"The ICOMOS team will carry out inspection on first two days of its visit and on third day is scheduled to meet Chief Secretary of Bihar Government in Patna. A senior official from ASI headquarters in Delhi, who heads the world heritage section, would also be coming during this three-day programme," Naik said.
The Patna Circle, under which the iconic monument falls, is also busy putting up an exhibition of rare monochrome photographs and sketches, sourced from its archives.
"The site is Nalanda's, Bihar's and India's pride and we are hoping that finally this famed university will get its due from the UNESCO. To tell the team about the series of excavations undertaken, beginning in 1910s, we are putting up an exhibition," he said.
A senior official in charge of the exhibition, said, "Rare images will be the highlight of the exhibits."
"Over 30 pictures which include 15 rare photographs taken during the excavation works from early 1910s to 1937 will be displayed. Besides, sketches, depicting site plan, elevation, etc, dating back to same period would also be there," the official said.
During the inspection the site would still remain open to public and they can also enjoy the exhibition.
According to Naik, "The first excavation at the site was carried out from 1915-1937, followed by from 1972-1984 and the last one from 2010-2014. And, ASI's efforts over the years have been documented over the decades. The site of the ruins is spread in 23 hectares."
Bihar currently has over 70 ASI-protected heritage monuments and sites under the Patna Circle, and only one UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya in Gaya district.
About 3,680 monuments, archaeological sites and remains included in the list of ASI are centrally-protected in the country.