Removable heritage: Nalanda beyond the Mahavihara

Salila Kulshreshtha

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter attempts to extend the implication of Nalanda beyond its current excavated boundaries which limit its scope as a Buddhist Mahavihara. UNESCO’s listing of Nalanda as a World Heritage Site identifies its “Outstanding Universal Value” as a site of a monastic and scholastic institution. This chapter shall examine how a state-directed construction of history and the subsequent delineation as “heritage” echo the 19th and 20th century colonial paradigm which makes monuments out of sites, devoid of their archaeological and social context. Is it possible to view a large monastic complex, such as at Nalanda, as an isolated compound with no cultural exchange with settlements in the immediate hinterland? The chapter traces the evolution of Nalanda as a sacred sub-region, taking into account the history of shrines and sacred iconography from the village settlements in the vicinity of the present archaeological site. Further, an analysis of the symbiotic relationship between the monastery, the villages and the shrines, will invest new meanings into a “dead” World Heritage Site and situate it within present-day tourist and sacred networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDecolonising Heritage in South Asia
Subtitle of host publicationthe Global, the National and the Transnational
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780429802867
ISBN (Print)9780429440380
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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