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Conserving Varanasi's Heritage

Though efforts have been made for the conservation of the rich heritage of Varanasi, the millennia-old living city still faces threat to its places of heritage importance. A total of 29 cultural and natural properties from India have been enlisted in the World Heritage List of UNESCO and 34 properties of the country are in its tentative list, but Varanasi is still struggling to find a place. However, the ancient Buddhist site of Sarnath has been included in the tentative list.

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Conservation of Varanasi's Heritage

Rich Heritage of VaranasiThough agencies like the Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) and Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN) express their commitment for the conservation of city's heritage, they are seemingly failing miserably to maintain its spirit. Today, one could see most of the ancient sites of heritage importance in a pathetic condition. "Basically it is the responsibility of the VNN to look after the issue and conserve the city's heritage. There is no big role of VDA in this work," said VDA vice-chairman V K Singh. He, however, said that the VDA had proposed for the inclusion of Varanasi's heritage in the UNESCO World Heritage List. "But, the things have not moved further," he admitted.

However, additional municipal commissioner Sachchidanand Singh, when contacted, said "the VNN is the monitoring agency of this endeavour. We are taking technical assistance of the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University, Ahmedabad, in this regard," said Singh. When asked about the progress in inscribing Varanasi's name in UNESCO World Heritage List, he said, "We are looking for how to put it further."

According to a report of the VDA on 'Management Plan for The Heritage City of Varanasi', the VDA is responsible for planning the development of the city and is also responsible for the protection of heritage zones, sites and properties and the surrounding physical environment. A conservation cell has been created in VDA for monitoring the preservation of heritage sites. It was proposed for the formation of a Heritage Conservation Committee in the VDA Board meeting held in April 2002.

Heritage of Varanasi

Living Cultural Traditions

The VDA in its report sketched an elaborate picture of the heritage of the city describing it as a place of living cultural traditions. The river Ganga, the source and the culmination of the spiritual and life energy of Varanasi, enhances and adorns, with a special transcendence, the lofty stone structures that decorate its eastern banks. The riverfront and the long uninterrupted stretch of ghats is the facade of the architectural zone being proposed for inscription in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. It is no wonder everyone who has visited or heard about Varanasi marvels why it hasn't yet been included in the UNESCO List.

The city faces intense population and traffic pressures, especially during the numerous festivals held throughout the year. Proposing Varanasi to the UNESCO Heritage List was VDA's effort in the direction of preserving the cultural and associative landscape of the city along with the river.

Highlighting the significance of the city for UNESCO nominations, the report stated that the principal grounds for including 'the Ganga and the riverfront and old city heritage zone of Varanasi' in the World Heritage List rested on the unique outstanding universal value of its architectural heritage, symbolising and linked strongly to the living cultural and religious traditions of three of the major religions of the world -- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

The proposal to inscribe Varanasi further rests on the rare and unique living expression of the religious and cultural importance of the Ganga River whose sacredness has led to the settlement and growth of the ancient city and which still continues to be the main reason for the religious and cultural importance of the city.

Browse All UNESCO World Heritage Sites in . The original Source File!!!

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