In a momentous occasion for India, Santiniketan, a serene town nestled in the heart of West Bengal’s Birbhum district, has earned its place on UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage List. This remarkable recognition is not just a testament to the town’s historical significance but also a celebration of its enduring cultural legacy.

A Noble Legacy: Rabindranath Tagore’s Vision

Santiniketan, a town that transcends time, owes its existence and character to the illustrious Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. In the year 1901, Tagore laid the foundation for this unique university town, which now stands as a living embodiment of his vision.

UNESCO’s Announcement: A Global Recognition

The resounding proclamation came directly from UNESCO itself, conveyed via its official platform. This momentous declaration has sent waves of pride and elation throughout India and beyond.

India’s Gratitude to the World Heritage Committee

Vishal Sharma, India’s representative to UNESCO, expressed his nation’s joy and gratitude for this recognition. He conveyed heartfelt thanks to the World Heritage Committee, the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and the Archaeological Survey of India, acknowledging their unwavering dedication to this cause.

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A Special Gift on a Special Day

Sharma highlighted the fact that Santiniketan’s inclusion on the World Heritage List coincided with the birthday of India’s Honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who also serves as the Chancellor of Santiniketan. This serendipity has made the recognition even more meaningful.

The Essence of Santiniketan

Santiniketan’s motto, “Yatra Visvam Bhavatyekanidam” – “Where the whole world can find a nest” – encapsulates the essence of this town. Originally established as an ashram in 1863 by Rabindranath Tagore’s father, it underwent a transformative journey in 1901, evolving into a residential school and a hub of art, based on the ancient Indian Gurukul system.

A Beacon of Internationalism

Sharma underscored that Santiniketan has embraced a unique brand of internationalism, drawing inspiration from ancient, medieval, and folk traditions of India. It stands as a symbol of unity, as Tagore’s vision for Vishwabharati – the unity of humanity – continues to inspire generations.

Prime Minister Modi’s Pride

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an expression of sheer delight, took to his official platform to share the news. He deemed it a “proud moment for India,” resonating the sentiments of the nation.

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Resounding Support from Leaders

Leaders across the political spectrum celebrated Santiniketan’s UNESCO recognition. West Bengal’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, exuded pride, highlighting the state government’s significant contributions to Santiniketan’s infrastructure over the past 12 years.

Dr. Sukanta Majumdar, the BJP State President from Bengal, shared the news enthusiastically, recognizing it as a collective moment of pride for every Indian.

Santiniketan: A Cultural Marvel

As per UNESCO, Santiniketan’s origin dates back to 1901 when the renowned poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore established it as a residential school and an art center rooted in ancient Indian traditions. This “world university,” recognized in 1921 as “Visva Bharati,” embodies the unity of humanity, transcending religious and cultural boundaries.

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Embracing Pan-Asian Modernity

Santiniketan stands as a testament to a unique form of pan-Asian modernity. Diverging from the British colonial architectural norms of the early 20th century and European modernism, it draws inspiration from ancient, medieval, and folk traditions across the region.

A Living Heritage

Santiniketan’s inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List not only honors its past but also safeguards its future. It ensures that the world can continue to marvel at the rich tapestry of history, culture, and humanism that thrives within its tranquil confines.