After an encouraging beginning with the inscription of Nalanda University in Bihar as UNESCO world heritage site, India celebrates two other sites in the list – Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh, a group nomination of Le Corbusier’s work and Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim – in the ongoing 40th edition of UNESCO world heritage session in Istanbul from July 10-20.
Although the UNESCO world heritage session in Istanbul experienced a brief suspension due to the attempted military coup in Istanbul last Friday, it resumed on Sunday to inscribe 12 new sites in its world heritage list. “The 40th session of the World Heritage Committee is suspended until further notice,” the Paris-based body said in a statement on its website. With its meeting on Sunday, July 17, the committee added two more inscriptions for India apart from Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) at Nalanda in Bihar.
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement
The judgment that had been on cliff hanger was whether it would list some of the Swiss born French architect Le Corbusier’s most iconic modernist buildings. A decision had been awaited as the committee met on Sunday. With its inscription, India yet again added another of its marvels to the UNESCO world heritage list along with another works by the architect in other countries. UNESCO had twice rejected previous bids to give its protection to Le Corbusier’s utilitarian concrete buildings, which had a huge impact on urban planning across the planet.
“Chosen from the work of Le Corbusier, the 17 sites comprising this transnational serial property are spread over seven countries and are a testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past. They were built over a period of a half-century, in the course of what Le Corbusier described as “patient research”. The Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh (India), the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Japan), the House of Dr Curutchet in La Plata (Argentina) and the Unité d’habitation in Marseille (France) reflect the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20th century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society. These masterpieces of creative genius also attest to the internationalization of architectural practice across the planet,” read the UNESCO website. Incidentally, the French architect planned the Indian city of Chandigarh in 1950s.
Khangchendzonga National Park
In another major recognition, Khangchendzonga National Park – home to the third highest peak Khangchendzonga in the world – also made to the list. Located in the heart of the Indian Himalayas in the state of Sikkim, it also includes a unique diversity of plains, valleys, lakes, glaciers and spectacular, snow-capped mountains covered with ancient forests. “Mythological stories are associated with this mountain and with a great number of natural elements (e.g. caves, rivers, lakes, etc.) that are the object of worship by the indigenous people of Sikkim. The sacred meanings of these stories and practices have been integrated with Buddhist beliefs and constitute the basis for Sikkimese identity,” said the UNESCO website.