1.         Taxila (Pakistan) (C 139)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/139/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1995-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 33,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/139/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

October 1999: World Heritage Centre mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/139/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: Upon examination of an expert mission report, the Bureau, at its nineteenth session in July 1995, recommended that the authorities of Pakistan, in co-operation with the World Heritage Centre, (i) carry out the required scientific studies on vegetation control to minimize the damage to the masonry and structure of the monuments and; (ii) to appraise the impact of the heavy industry and the stone quarrying in the Taxila Valley areas. Since then, studies and training for vegetation control has been initiated. In 1996, a stone quarry was closed to reduce its negative impact on the archaeological remains of the Jaulian site, Dharmajika Temple site and the Bhir Mound. However, a report on the impact of the heavy industry, particularly that of the military, has not been submitted by the authorities of Pakistan to the World Heritage Committee.

New information: During a mission undertaken in February 1999, a World Heritage Centre staff witnessed the alarming construction of a football stadium on an unexcavated area on the Bhir Mound site, the earliest historical citadel site within Taxila World Heritage site. The stadium was being built directly on an archaeological area, which the Government of Pakistan had purchased in 1954. At the time of the mission, construction workers had already finished digging the dredges for the rectangular outer brick wall of the stadium, exposing the 2nd century AD strata stone walls and pottery shards. A well had been dug and workers had exposed all four stratums of the Taxila Ancient City at Bhir Mound, including the earliest dating to the 6th century BC Achaemenian period. The construction is on an archaeological area as yet unexcavated and no documentation of this area has been undertaken. The construction of the stadium would irreversibly damage the site, preventing archaeological and scientific research of one fifth of the most ancient part of the Taxila World Heritage site. A stadium will imply the installation of new drainage and water supply systems at the site to meet the needs of the stadium users, which could damage the archaeological remains. Furthermore, this stadium is bound to lead to an increase in visitors to a site that is not adequately prepared for mass tourism. In March 1999, the Director of the World Heritage Centre addressed a letter to the Minister of Culture of Pakistan requesting that urgent measures be taken to ensure the protection and preservation of Bhir Mound. However, no response has been received, as of 4 May 1999.

The mission also expressed deep concern over evidences of illegal excavations at two of the archaeological remains in the Taxila World Heritage site which were examined. The representatives of the Government of Pakistan confirmed that large-scale illegal excavation by looters in search of sculptures within Buddhist monastery sites had increased in the past two years.

Finally, the mission, informed of the construction of a second heavy industry complex and military base within Taxila Valley, and expressed concern over the continuing expansion of the industrial estates. Despite their location outside the very limited buffer zone surrounding the registered archaeological sites, these industrial complexes nonetheless risk impacting upon the overall integrity of the Taxila World Heritage site in its ensemble.

Action Required

The Bureau, having examined the state of conservation of Taxila, requests the Government of Pakistan to take urgent measures to halt the construction of the stadium being built on Bhir Mound. Furthermore, the Bureau requests the Government of Pakistan to urgently undertake archaeological research at unexcavated sites at Taxila, and adequately protect the sites from illegal looters. In view of Pakistan’s adherence to the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, the Bureau recommends that the authorities of Pakistan urgently strengthen security at the archaeological remains of Taxila and the customs control at the borders of the North-Western Frontier Province. Finally, the Bureau requests the Government of Pakistan to undertake an impact study of the heavy industries in the Taxila Valley areas, and to submit a report on the actions taken by 15 September 1999 for examination by the Bureau at its twenty-third extraordinary session.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations: 

World Heritage Bureau, nineteenth session - Chapter VI.20

World Heritage Committee, nineteenth session – Chapter VII.47

World Heritage Bureau, twenty-third session - Chapter IV.71

 

New information:(For Fort and Shalamar Gardens of Lahore and Taxila Archaeological Remains)

 Following the decisions of the Bureau at its twenty-third session, a mission was undertaken by a World Heritage Centre staff to Lahore and Karachi between 12 – 15 October 1999. At the time of the preparation of this document, consultations were being held with representatives of the Department of Archaeology and Museums and members of the National Technical Committee for the Preservation of the Shish Mahal, Lahore Fort. Political disturbance and change in Government during the midst of the mission may render necessary, another reactive monitoring mission when the new authorities responsible for decisions concerning the newly constructed football stadium at Bhir Mound in Taxila and those for the demobilised hydraulic works of the Shalamar Gardens are in place.

A full report on the findings of the mission will be presented at the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 23 BUR IV.B.71

During a mission undertaken in February 1999, a World Heritage Centre staff  member witnessed the alarming construction of a football stadium on an unexcavated area on the Bhir Mound site, the earliest historical citadel site within Taxila World Heritage site. The stadium was being built directly on an archaeological area, which the Government of Pakistan had purchased in 1954. At the time of the mission, construction workers had already finished digging the dredges for the rectangular outer brick wall of the stadium, exposing the 2nd century AD strata stone walls and pottery shards. A well had been dug and workers had exposed all four stratums of the Taxila Ancient City at Bhir Mound, including the earliest dating to the 6th century BC Achaemenian period.  The construction is on an archaeological area as yet unexcavated and no documentation of this area has been undertaken. The construction of the stadium would irreversibly damage the site, preventing archaeological and scientific research of one fifth of the most ancient part of the Taxila World Heritage site. A stadium will imply the installation of new drainage and water supply systems at the site to meet the needs of the stadium users, which could damage the archaeological remains. Furthermore, this stadium is bound to lead to an increase in visitors to a site that is not adequately prepared for mass tourism.  In March 1999, the Director of the World Heritage Centre addressed a letter to the Minister of Culture of Pakistan requesting that urgent measures be taken to ensure the protection and preservation of Bhir Mound.

The mission also expressed deep concern over evidences of illegal excavations at two of the archaeological remains in the Taxila World Heritage site which were examined. The representatives of the Government of Pakistan confirmed that large-scale illegal excavation by looters in search of sculptures within Buddhist monastery sites had increased in the past two years.

Finally, the mission informed of the construction of a second heavy industry complex and military base within Taxila Valley, and expressed concern over the continuing expansion of the industrial estates. Despite their location outside the very limited buffer zone surrounding the registered archaeological sites, these industrial complexes nonetheless risk impacting upon the overall integrity of the Taxila World Heritage site in its ensemble.

ICOMOS, supporting the views of the Secretariat, expressed deep concern regarding the construction of a football stadium on the Bhir Mound and underlined the need for a full report from the Government of Pakistan.

The Observer of Pakistan thanked the Bureau and the World Heritage Centre for the mission undertaken in February 1999 by the World Heritage Centre, which was welcomed by the Government of Pakistan.  She assured the Bureau of her Government’s full commitment to protect the Taxila site.  Being aware of the potential damages to the archaeological remains of Taxila, she informed the Bureau that the construction of the football stadium at Bhir Mound was of great concern. The Observer of Pakistan stated that the Government of Pakistan intended to correct the situation.  She also informed the Bureau that her Government would address the recurring illegal looting and excavation of numerous archaeological remains at Taxila, with the continued support of UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee.

The Bureau, having examined the reports of the Secretariat, ICOMOS and the Observer of Pakistan, requested the Government of Pakistan to take urgent measures to halt the construction of the stadium being built on Bhir Mound.  Furthermore, the Bureau requested the Government of Pakistan to undertake archaeological research at unexcavated sites at Taxila, and adequately protect the sites from illegal looters.  In view of Pakistan’s adherence to the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, the Bureau recommended that the authorities of Pakistan strengthen security at the archaeological remains of Taxila and the customs control at the borders of the North-Western Frontier Province. The Bureau also requested the Government of Pakistan to undertake an impact study of the heavy industries in the Taxila Valley areas.  Finally, the Bureau requested the Government of Pakistan to submit a report by 15 September 1999 on the actions taken for examination by the Bureau at its twenty-third extraordinary session.

Decision Adopted: 23 COM X.B.43

X.43 Taxila (Pakistan)

Fort and Shalamar Gardens of Lahore (Pakistan)

The Committee recalled the reports from the twenty-third ordinary and the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau on the state of conservation of this property and adopted the following decision:

"The Committee examined the report of the Secretariat. The Committee expressed concern over the demolition of the 375-year old essential hydraulic works of the Shalamar Gardens, which had been carried out to enlarge the 4-lane Grand Trunk Road into a 6-lane motorway, as well as the completed football stadium built on the archaeological remains of Bhir Mound, the most ancient citadel site dating between 6th BC - 2nd AD within Taxila. In view of the ascertained threats undermining the authenticity and integrity of these two sites, the Committee requested the State Party to take urgent corrective measures to restore the hydraulic works at Shalamar Gardens, and to consider removing the football stadium negatively impacting upon the archaeological remains of Bhir Mound. The Committee requested the State Party to report on the actions taken for examination by the twenty-fourth session of the Bureau. Should the Bureau find that the World Heritage values have been compromised, it would recommend the Committee to consider inscription of these sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its twenty-fourth session, in view of the threats facing these sites.

Taking note of the need to elaborate a comprehensive management plan for both the Fort and Shalamar Gardens of Lahore, the Committee requested the World Heritage Centre to urgently organize a reactive monitoring mission by the advisory bodies to Lahore. The Committee requested that consultation on the proposals for protecting the Shish Mahal Mirrored Ceiling be undertaken by ICCROM with the national authorities, during this mission. The Committee requested the advisory bodies and the World Heritage Centre to report on findings and recommendations of the mission for examination by the twentyfourth session of the Bureau."