Title: Promoting Mahashangarh as World Cultural Heritage Site: Problem, Prospects and Proposition Essay

ABSTRACTCultural heritage, as defined by UNESCO, is the legacy of tangible and intangible qualities of a society that are inherited from past generations, conserved in the present and conferred for the benefit of future generations. To be included in the World Heritage List, any site must have outstanding universal value. It also has to meet at least one selection criteria which have been explained in the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the world heritage convention. Until 2004, there were six criteria for cultural heritage and four criteria for natural heritage.

In 2005, it was modified to develop only one set of ten criteria. Recent national tourism policies in Bangladesh increasingly have been aimed towards promoting cultural heritage tourism, as it has significant potentiality in the growth of the country’s tourism industry. Mahastangarh is one of the oldest archaeological sites of Bangladesh, located in northern district of Bogra established around 2500 BC, as provincial capital by Pundra dynasty, followed by successive ruling dynasties of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim occupation.

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The entire area is surrounded by a fortification wall and outside of the fortification wall, various mounds and monasteries (bihar) are found as scattered throughout the vast area. The aim of this paper is to examine whether the Mahastangarh in Bogra district of Bangladesh, may fulfill the criteria defined by the World Heritage Convention, to become the part of world heritage site and provide the proposition for considering Mahastangarh as one of the World Heritage site.Key Words (4): Cultural Heritage, Mahashangarh, Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), UNESCO, IntroductionA nation’s identity depends on its history, culture and heritage. History tells us about our predecessors, and their life style. According to Matsumoto (1996), culture is the set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by a group of people, communicated from one generation to the next. Heritage is the tangible and intangible assets of previous generations. Like history, heritage shows us about our predecessor’s values, beliefs and lifestyle too. Thus, cultural heritage consist of culture, values, traditions, shared beliefs, and belongingness of a community. The motivating force behind all definitions of cultural heritage is that it is a human creation intended to inform (Feather, 2006) about it. It is important for any individual or any country to preserve their cultural heritage and introduce it to its successors as well as the rest of the world. Cultural and natural heritages are both nonpareil sources of life and inspiration.Though cultural heritage naturally gives the idea of a single society, but it is beyond its geographical boundaries. It is important to protect and preserve all cultural heritage of a society. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1972, has initiated to protect the cultural heritage of all countries, by developing the World Heritage Convention (“Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage”). It governs the selection and protection of the sites which is considered as important and follows the convention of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. That committee sets the list of the sites and provides funds to help to protect a site, if required. To be included on the World Heritage List, any sites must be of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and meet at least one, out of ten selection criteria defined by UNESCO. Bangladesh is a land of rich tangible and intangible heritage of monasteries, monuments, forts, temples, mosques, fauna and forest. Already three sites of Bangladesh have been listed as world heritage sites. Two under cultural heritage and one under natural heritage have been listed as world heritage sites. However, there are lots of other heritage sites which could be included in the list of world heritage sites. Among them, Mahasthan Garh, provincial capital by Pundra dynasty is one. The aim of this paper is to examine whether the Mahastangarh may fulfill the criteria defined by the World Heritage Convention, to become the part of world heritage site.Literature Review:Cultural heritage, as defined by UNESCO, is the legacy of tangible and intangible attributes of a society that has been inherited from past generations, and conferred for future generations. When any history is interpreted to the next generations with their original settings and, it helps to explain how our ancestors lived and the ways their societies functioned. Simon in 2005 developed clockwise heritage cycle as understand-value-care-enjoy-understand cycle as: By understanding cultural heritage, people will value it By valuing the heritage, people like to care for it By caring heritage, people will enjoy it and from enjoying the heritage, people like to understand it more By understanding more again, people will value it more.From UNESCO definition, World Heritage Sites are important from two points of view: Cultural or Natural. According to International Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICOMOS, 2002), cultural heritage is often expressed as either intangible or tangible cultural heritage. Tangible heritage are of two types: movable and immovable heritage. Moveable heritage includes books, documents, artworks, machines, clothing, and other artifacts that are considered as worthy and significant for the study of future generations. On the other hand, immovable heritage includes building, monuments, large industrial installations or other historic places and landscapes (Marie, 2016). Sometimes physical artifacts are interpreted as framework of socioeconomic, political, ethnic, religious and philosophical values of a particular society.Intangible cultural heritage includes traditions, language, rituals, folklore (performing arts), aesthetic and spiritual beliefs, and knowledge. It is more challenging to preserve intangible cultural heritage compare to any other heritage. The second type of heritage is natural heritage which includes culturally significant landscapes and with its natural environment. For example, forest, flora, and fauna. These kinds of heritage sites often serve as an important factors in a country’s tourism industry.Until the end of 2004, there were following six criteria (i, ii, iii, iv, v, and vi) for cultural heritage and four criteria (vii, viii, ix, and x) for natural heritage were considered. In 2005, this was modified so that there is only one set of ten criteria (i to x), which is considered as the main working tool to select World Heritage sites.(i) to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;(ii) to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;(iii) to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;(iv) to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage(s) in human history;(v) be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment;(vi) to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance;(vii) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;(viii) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;(ix) to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals; and(x) to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

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