State of Conservation (SOC)
Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee
New information: The Secretariat received a request from the Japanese Buddhist Federation (JBF) to urgently organize an international technical meeting to discuss the proposal prepared by JBF, which has been providing financial and technical assistance for the conservation, restoration and presentation of the Maya Devi Temple within the archaeological zone of the World Heritage site. JBF informed the World Heritage Centre that it wishes to proceed with its restoration proposal (already submitted to the Lumbini Development Trust), only after examining the proposal with the national authorities concerned and international experts recommended by UNESCO.
The Maya Devi Temple is the most important archaeological vestige at this World Heritage site, which is exposed to natural elements and visitors. It is temporarily protected with a corrugated roof at the present time. In view of the growing number of visitors and the religious significance of this pilgrimage site, both the Lumbini Development Trust and JBF wish to adequately protect and present the Maya Devi Temple site as a matter of urgency. However, to ensure that the restoration and presentation of the Temple follows international conservation norms, UNESCO recommended that an international technical meeting be organized. The World Heritage Centre provided assistance to the authorities of Nepal in preparing a technical co-operation request to co-finance this meeting, scheduled to take place in September 1999. However, the request has not been officially submitted to date.
Action RequiredThe Bureau, having examined the report of the Secretariat, and having noted the fragility of this important pilgrimage site, recommends the authorities of Nepal to make the necessary arrangements to organize an international technical meeting to examine the proposal for the conservation, restoration and presentation of the Maya Devi Temple. The Bureau requests the World Heritage Centre to assist the authorities of Nepal in the organization of the meeting, and report on the developments and action taken by the State Party for examination by the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau in November 1999.
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Requests Approved: 0
Total Amount Ap proved: 0USD
October 1999: World Heritage Centre mission
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Current conservation issues
World Heritage Bureau, twenty-third session - Chapter IV.70
New information:Following the request of the Bureau at its twenty-third session, a World Heritage Centre staff undertook a mission in October 1999 for consultations with the relevant Nepalese authorities concerning the conservation and presentation of the Maya Devi Temple archaeological remains within the Lumbini World Heritage site. The Secretary and Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Member Secretary of the Lumbini Development Trust, and the Director-General of the Department of Archaeology were reminded by the UNESCO Representative to Nepal and the Centre staff of paragraph 56 of the Operational Guidelines which requests the States Parties to submit plans for any major conservation or construction work which could effect the World Heritage values. In view of the extremely harsh natural environment of the Lumbini site and the potential impact any construction on or in the proximity of the fragile archaeological remains could have, the mission underlined that the organization of technical expert consultations to discuss the most appropriate conservation and presentation methodology was recommended by the Bureau and ICOMOS. The authorities were moreover invited to submit the Maya Devi Temple conservation and presentation plan prepared by national architects and archaeologists to the World Heritage Committee, together with the report on the findings of the excavations carried out by the Lumbini Development Trust and the Japan Buddhist Federation since the early 1990’s.
The mission requested further information from the State Party concerning reports it had obtained in October 1999 of the construction of concrete foundations at the Maya Devi Temple site in December 1998. Finally, referring to the draft co-operation agreement between the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) and the Japan Buddhist Federation (JBF), UNESCO expressed its regret that neither the World Heritage status of the site nor of adherence to international conservation standards were referred to within the agreement.
The mission was assured by the representatives of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal that information concerning the concrete foundations would be transmitted to the World Heritage Committee and that international conservation norms would be followed for any intervention plans for the conservation and presentation of the Maya Devi Temple site and the Lumbini World Heritage site as a whole. Regarding the site conservation plan being discussed between the LDT and the JBF, the Secretariat was assured that the concept paper with the designs and drawings would be transmitted to the World Heritage Committee together with the report of the findings of the excavations conducted by the Lumbini Development Trust and the Japan Buddhist Federation when reports were completed. The authorities however informed the Centre of their intention to submit a technical co-operation request, prepared with the Centre’s support to finance the international technical meeting, only after an agreement is reached between the LDT and the JBF, since the latter is to finance the Maya Devi Temple conservation and presentation plan.
Analysis and Conclusion
Link to the decision
The Bureau examined the report of the Secretariat concerning the proposal to organize an international technical meeting to ensure that the proposed project for the conservation, restoration and presentation of the Maya Devi Temple within the archaeological zone of the World Heritage site, which was prepared by the Japan Buddhist Federation and submitted by the Lumbini Development Trust conforms to international standards. In view of the religious and archaeological importance of the Maya Devi Temple, which is exposed to natural elements, pilgrims and visitors and is presently protected only with a corrugated roof, UNESCO and ICOMOS experts recommended that an international technical meeting be organized bringing together the national authorities responsible for this site and international experts, to discuss the project proposal.
The Observer of Nepal informed the Bureau that his Government considered that sufficient consultation with the national authorities had not taken place to discuss the proposed international technical meeting. ICOMOS stated that in view of the great impact the proposed restoration project would have on the Maya Devi Temple, it supported the Secretariat’s suggestion for a small group of high level international experts to meet with the national authorities and experts for discussing the most appropriate conservation, restoration, and presentation plan for this monument.
The Bureau, having examined the report of the Secretariat and the comments of the Observer of HMG of Nepal and ICOMOS, noted the fragility of this important pilgrimage site. The Bureau asked the World Heritage Centre to immediately consult the authorities of Nepal to make the necessary arrangements to organize an international technical meeting to examine the proposal for the conservation, restoration and presentation of the Maya Devi Temple, and to report on the consultations to the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau.
Link to the decision
X.46 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-99/CONF.209/6) and included in Annex VIII of this report on the following properties:
Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis (Argentina and Brazil)
The Jesuit Mission of Santa Ana (Argentina)
The Potala Palace, Lhasa (China)
City of Quito (Ecuador)
The Delegate of Ecuador informed the Committee that the volcano Pichincha had erupted on 5 October and November 26 1999 and that the National Institute for Cultural Heritage (INPC) and the Municipality of Quito had taken preventive measures to protect the population and the monuments.
Historic Centre of Tallin (Estonia)
Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay (France)
Roman Monuments, Cathedral and Liebfrauen Church in Trier (Germany)
Ashanti Traditional Buildings (Ghana)
Churches and Convents of Goa (India)
Luang Prabang (Laos)
Island of Mozambique (Mozambique)
Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha (Nepal)
The Observer of HMG of Nepal assured the Committee that the conservation of the Maya Devi Temple would be undertaken following international conservation norms prescribed by the World Heritage Convention. He informed the Committee that HMG of Nepal would be grateful to receive expert suggestions from UNESCO concerning the draft conceptual design for the Maya Devi Temple conservation work, as such advice would be a guideline for elaborating the details of the design under preparation. The Observer assured the Committee that the designs for the works at Maya Devi Temple, once completed, would be transmitted to UNESCO, as assured by HMG of Nepal. The Observer informed the Committee that a technical cooperation request for the organization of an international technical meeting to discuss the proposed project for the conservation, restoration, and presentation of the Maya Devi Temple, would be submitted, following the request of the Bureau at its twenty-third session.
Archaeological Site of Chavin (Peru)
City of Cuzco (Peru)
Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines)
The Observer of the Philippines assured the Committee that the long-term integrated development plan of the site, including a tourism development plan for the site, would be submitted in due course to UNESCO, preferably before 15 September 2000. To ensure that the authenticity and sustainable conservation of this fragile site is maintained, the Observer stated that his Government would avail of the generous offer of the Committee to provide technical expertise under the World Heritage Fund.
Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Poland)
The Sokkuram Grotto and Pulguksa Temple (Republic of Korea)
Alhambra, Generalife and Albaycin, Grenada (Spain)
Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey)
The Observer of Turkey thanked the Bureau for the sympathies expressed for the victims of the earthquake this year. The Observer stated that Istanbul is the only one among the nine World Heritage sites in Turkey located in the region impacted by the August 1999 earthquake. While the damage can only be measured over time, initial assessment has noted minor cracks in several historic monuments including the Hagia Sophia, and four museums. Severe cracks have, however, been noted in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, the conservation laboratory which is housed in an historic monument, in two historic library buildings, and in more than ten tombs as well as in the city walls (ramparts). The Committee was informed that the impact report of the second earthquake (in November 1999) on World Heritage sites had not been received by the Ministry of Culture of Turkey from its regional offices. The Observer said that a detailed report would be submitted to the Committee through the Secretariat as soon as it is completed.
With regard to the urban conservation plan of the historic peninsula of Istanbul, the Observer informed the Committee that the 1/5000 scale plan has just been completed and submitted to the Greater Istanbul Council and upon approval, will be transmitted to the Regional Conservation Council for clearance. As soon as this is officially approved, the 1/1000 scale plan will be prepared for the Fatih and Eminonu municipalities. In addition, the 1/500 scale detailed conservation plan for the Zeyrek district prepared by Istanbul Technical University, which was co-funded by the World Heritage Fund is about to be completed, and will be submitted to the Fatih Municipality for approval. The Observer thanked the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for having mobilized international support for the conservation of Istanbul's urban heritage, and in this regard, expressed particular appreciation for the financial support extended by the European Commission and the Government of France.
The Observer concluded her intervention by saying that due to the need to finance earthquake rehabilitation activities, the budget of all government services had been severely cut, including that of the Ministry of Culture. While on-going joint conservation projects with the municipalities of Istanbul will be continued, no expansion in the area of work or additional activities will be possible for 2000.
The Delegate of Greece called upon the Committee to provide support to Turkey in the rehabilitation of the earthquake damage. In this regard, she recalled her statement at the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau, which pointed to the need to prioritize the object of international support in view of the vast conservation needs of the Istanbul World Heritage area. The Chairperson, in his personal capacity stated that this spirit of collaboration and solidarity expressed by Greece in favour of Turkey was a demonstration of the spirit of the World Heritage Convention.
The Bureau may wish to recommend the following text for adoption by the Committee:
“The Committee expresses appreciation for the consultation process involving the World Heritage Centre, the UNESCO Representative for Nepal, the relevant national authorities and the Lumbini Development Trust concerning the conservation and presentation plan for the Maya Devi Temple archaeological remains, in response to the request of the Bureau at its twenty-third session. The Committee welcomes the assurances provided by His Majesty’s Government of Nepal to report on the proposed activities under consideration and of the concrete foundation laid on-site, as well as of the results of the excavations carried out by Lumbini Development Trust and the Japan Buddhist Federation. The Committee requests that this information be provided to the Secretariat before 15 April 2000 for consideration by the twenty-fourth session of the Bureau in June/July 2000.
In view of the fragility of the exposed archaeological remains of the Maya Devi Temple and threats to the World Heritage values of the site caused by the harsh environment and important scale of visitors, the Committee recommends that the State Party organize an international technical meeting as soon as possible to finalize the conservation and presentation plan of the site and its early implementation. In this regard, the Committee reiterates its readiness to consider technical assistance from the World Heritage Fund to support national and local efforts. Moreover, the Committee recommends the State Party to invite UNESCO and ICOMOS to participate in an advisory capacity in a steering committee for the Maya Devi Temple project foreseen to be implemented under the Lumbini Development Trust – Japan Buddhist Federation agreement. Finally, the Committee requests the World Heritage Centre to maintain close co-operation with the State Party in ensuring the protection of this site.”
Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha
- Management activities
- Management systems/ management plan
- Other Threats:
Extremely harsh natural environment
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).