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Nalanda Mahavira makes it to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites

UNESCO announces 9 new world heritage sites to add to everyone's Bucket list

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Nalanda Mahavihara. Image Source: VOA News
  • Exciting news for India, Nalanda Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery in Magadha was announced one of the 9 New World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
  • Interestingly, this would be the second world heritage site in the country after Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.
  • The committee is also reviewing 27 sites of cultural significance which have been nominated for the World Heritage List.

UNESCO has declared the much awaited Nalanda ruins in Bihar as a world heritage site. The decision came during the UN cultural agency’s ongoing session in Istanbul, Turkey on July 15.

The cultural agency UNESCO also tweeted on this matter:

Nalanda University is located in Rajgir, near Nalanda, Bihar, India and  was established during the Gupta Dynasty. It was earlier an acclaimed large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. Interestingly, this would be the second world heritage site in the country after Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya.

Nalanda University. Image Source : Wikimedia commons
Nalanda University. Image Source : Wikimedia commons

The Nalanda site that comprises of the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution from the 3rd century B.C. to the 13th century A.D. is in fact one of the ancient seats of learning in the world.

Another interesting addition to the list has been the old city of Ani, in the Turkish province of Kars. Ani, near Turkey’s now closed border with Armenia, once served as the capital of the Armenian kingdom in the 10th century. Mostly abandoned after a devastating earthquake in the 14th century, the ruins include a relatively well-preserved cathedral and hold major significance for Armenians.

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Other sites announced on Friday include China’s Zuojiang Huashan rock art cultural landscape, Iran’s ancient aqueducts known as Qanat. A trans-boundary site located in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, and heritage sites in Greece, Spain and Gibraltar have also made it to the list.

The World Heritage Committee also zeroed upon Micronesia’s artificial islets of Nan Madol and simultaneously placed it on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Made of basalt and coral boulders, the 99 artificial islets of Nan Madol are home to ruins ranging from temple to tombs between A.D. 1200 and 1500.

Dating back to the 5th century B.C., Zuojiang Huashon rock art cultural landscape straddles steep cliffs in southwest China and represent the only trace left of the Luoyue people.

Iran’s Qanat system tapped into alluvial aquifer and transported water underground across vast valleys helping sustain agricultural life and settlements in arid areas.

The medieval tombstones and graveyards, known as stecci, combine 30 sites in Bosnia, central and southern Croatia, western Montenegro and western Serbia. Carved from limestone, they feature decorative motives and inscriptions.

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The Greek archaeological site of Philippi, founded in 356 B.C. by the Macedonian King Philip II, lies in the present-day region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace. It later became an important Christian site, following the visit of Apostle Paul, UNESCO said.

The Antequera Dolmens site, in Andalusia, southern Spain, is comprised of three megalithic monuments as well as two natural mountainous formations.

The natural sea caves – or Gorham’s Cave Complex – in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, also made the list, and provide evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 125,000 years.

Gathered from July 10-20 in Istanbul, the committee is reviewing 27 sites of special cultural or natural significance which have been nominated for the World Heritage List. (With input from VOA)

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President of Egypt Calls for Collective Action Against Countries Supporting Terrorism

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The president of Egypt Urges world leaders to take decisive action against states supporting terrorism. Pixabay

Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.

The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.

Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi Egypt
The President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. VOA

The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada.

The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.

Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.

Since Morsi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.

Upcoming conference

El-Sissi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He did not elaborate.

Egypt
This photo provided by the office of Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, dignitaries including Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, gather, for a photo during a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Egypt. VOA

He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”

El-Sissi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.

After the 2011 civil war, Libya split in two, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Maritime border agreement 

El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.

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Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital.  He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy. (VOA)