Visva Bharati plans awareness campaign to explore UNESCO heritage site Santiniketan

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Kolkata, July 11 (PTI) Nearly a year after Santiniketan received the UNESCO World Heritage tag, Visva Bharati University has announced plans for a 15-day awareness campaign during which participants will be immersed in the ideals and visions of Rabindranath Tagore and his father Debendranath Tagore, while also exploring the rich heritage of the region.

Dubbed 'World Heritage Volunteers' (WHV), the campaign is scheduled to begin from August 1 on the university campus and is open to participants from across the country, abroad as well as Visva Bharati students and staff, a university official said on Thursday.

Activities during the campaign will include introductions to Tagore's philosophy, an orientation to Santiniketan and Visva Bharati's mission, discussions on rural reconstruction and development, strategies for conserving historical structures and manuscripts, and practical documentation efforts.

Participants will engage in dialogues regarding challenges faced by Santiniketan as a UNESCO World Heritage site, interact with local communities and stakeholders, and visit significant local landmarks such as the 'Ashram' within the Visva Bharati compound, as well as nearby sites like Sonajhuri and Sriniketan village, where they will interact with artisans, Baul singers, and other folk artistes.

Professor Anil Kumar, Visva Bharati WHV project coordinator, told PTI that around 50 volunteers are expected to attend the camp. This initiative follows UNESCO's recognition of Santiniketan as a World Heritage site on September 17, 2023.

Kumar emphasised that the campaign aligns with UNESCO's goal to involve heritage volunteers in advocating for preservation and respecting the historical significance of the region. Various participation fee will be accepted based on a volunteer's respective country- India, SAARC-ASEAN member, or other nations and home university (Visva Bharati), officials said.

Established in 1862 by Maharshi Debendranath Tagore as an ashram for meditation in Bhubandanga, Santiniketan was later transformed by Rabindranath Tagore in 1901 into an open-air educational institution, which evolved over time into Visva Bharati.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is actively engaged in the restoration of numerous heritage structures in Santiniketan, including those within Visva Bharati. PTI SUS MNB