Konark to Nalanda: India’s architectural heritage took center stage at G20 Summit

New Delhi: From the 13th-century Konark temple of Odisha to the ancient Nalanda University in Bihar, the G20 Summit venue here has put a spotlight on the rich architectural heritage of India. 

As President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the guests at a ceremonial dinner for various heads of state and other world leaders and their spouses at the Bharat Mandapam venue on Saturday night, a replica of the ancient Nalanda University — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — in Bihar formed the backdrop.

Nalanda University is one of the oldest universities of the world. 

While greeting guests, the prime minister was also seen explaining to some of the G20 leaders, including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, about the importance of the university. 

Officials noted that Nalanda University represents an embrace of diversity, meritocracy, freedom of thought, collective governance, autonomy, and knowledge sharing — all aligning with the core principles of democracy.

Nalanda is a living testament to the enduring spirit of India’s advanced educational pursuit and its commitment to building a harmonious world community, aligning with India’s G20 Presidency theme, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, they said. 

And, if Nalanda was the backdrop at the evening reception, India’s Konark wheel came in sharp focus in the morning as a beautiful image of the Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha formed the backdrop when the prime minister greeted G20 leaders before the start of the Summit at the Bharat Mandapam. 

Bharat Mandapam itself bears artworks in its hallway, including a sculptural installation titled ‘Surya Dwar’ which also depicts mythical horses of the Sun God. 

The Ministry of Culture celebrated India’s cultural heritage as well as those of other G20 member nations and invited countries through a ‘Culture Corridor’ set up in the hallway skirting the Summit room. Iconic art objects in physical and digital forms were displayed in this curated temporary ‘art corridor’ made especially for the big occasion. Panini’s grammar treatise ‘Ashtadhyayi’, Rig Veda inscription and digital images of Bhimbhetka cave paintings in Madhya Pradesh, dating back to approximately 30,000 years, were also displayed as part of this project. 

The art elements of the complex included a 27-foot high statue of Nataraja. The iconic statue was made using the ancient lost-wax technique of metal casting that was used for making the famed Chola bronzes. According to a plaque installed next to the statue, the sculptural art is titled ‘Embracing Eternity’  — Siva Nataraja’s Dance of Cosmic Creation. 

Images courtesy of TOI and Narendra Modi/Facebook

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