1.         Taj Mahal (India) (C 252)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1983

Criteria  (i)

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/252/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1986-1994)
Total amount approved: USD 35,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/252/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 158,200 under the UNESCO/Aventis project “Preservation of Taj Mahal and other Monuments in Agra”.

Previous monitoring missions

2004: Joint World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

In 2003: Development project negatively impacting the World Heritage value of the properties of Taj Mahal and Agra Fort (‘Taj Heritage Corridor Project’). The project was suspended by the Indian authorities in 2004. 

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/252/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 24 January 2011 reports were submitted by the State Party on the state of conservation of the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort World Heritage properties. These reports provide brief overviews of progress at the properties, in response to Decision 34 COM 7B.68.

a) Integrated Management Plan

The State Party reiterates that a site management plan was prepared for the Taj Mahal in March 2003, and resubmits a copy of this plan along with the report noting that it should be considered as the framework for the integrated management plan for Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal that has yet to be prepared.

b) Visitor Facilitation Centre

The State Party reiterates its 2010 report that a common entrance ticket arrangement to allow tourists access to all Indian World Heritage properties has been introduced, and that it has moved the Taj Mahal ticket booking facilities to Shilpagram, 1km distance from the property.

The State Party reports that a proposal for the provision of Fatehpur Sikri visitor facilities at a Centre near Agra Gate, the deployment of heritage police, and the provision of a new tourist access road, in the northern periphery of the property, has been submitted. The report also states that a Fatehpur Sikri site museum is being established, and that the unauthorised shops within a 100 metres radius of the Dargah complex have been vacated, and were replaced by a new shopping and parking complex near the Gullstan tourist complex in 2006-07.

c) Progress on boundaries

The State Party reported that the requested information was provided by letter to the World Heritage Centre on 5 October 2006, and reiterates the property and buffer zone boundary.

d) Impact assessment study on new bridge over Yamuna River

The State Party reports that the proposed new bridge mentioned at the34th session of the Committee has now been constructed near the Strachy Bridge, at 2 kilometre distance from the property boundary. It connects the Taj Mahal with the tomb of Itimad ud Daula. The report states that it has no adverse impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, whilst improving tourist access to Taj Mahal from other important Agra monuments. No details of this project, nor any associated impact assessment studies were submitted in advance of its construction, as was requested to be done as a matter of urgency in paragraph 6 of Decision 34 COM 7B.68 (Brasilia, 2010).

e) Conservation

With the addition of succinct information covering the period 2010 – 2011, the State Party report provides the same brief textual and illustrative year-by-year summary of technical conservation and restoration work projects (including demolitions of modern appendages) carried out on the Taj Mahal property since 2004. This includes the provision of Door Frame Metal Detectors and barricaded queue arrangements at the Eastern and Western gates which lack sensitivity in design.

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

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Body are concerned that little further progress has been made in pursuing the agreed intentions of creating an integrated management plan for Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal, or of developing a separate plan for Fatehpur Sikri as agreed by Decision 31 COM 7B.80.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies also regret that the State Party did not provide any information in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and as requested by the World Heritage Committee, before a commitment was made to construct the new bridge. The State Party report acknowledges that this bridge facilitates traffic to the property and a comprehensive assessment should have been carried out on its impact on traffic and visitor management as well as on other aspects. It would appear that the bridge could lead to an increase in the already very high numbers of visitors (over 4 million a year) and that it is likely to have a negative impact on the visitor management of this comparatively fragile property.

The development of this bridge underlines the need for an integrated management plan that gives consideration to the wider setting of the property and its traffic and visitor management strategies as well as giving guidance on appropriate interventions for visitor management structures.

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.67

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decisions 31 COM 7B.80 adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) and 34 COM 7B.68, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Urges the State Party to continue progress in the development of an Integrated Management Plan for the Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort properties, and requests it to submit the plan when completed to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;

4. Encourages the State Party to continue progress in the development of a separate management plan for Fatehpur Sikri, and also requests it to submit the plan when completed to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;

5. Further requests the State Party to reconsider the inappropriate design and installation of the Door Frame Metal Detectors and barricaded queue arrangements at the Eastern and Western gates of the Taj Mahal;

6. Regrets that the State Party did not provide any details of the new bridge over the Yamuna river, nor a heritage impact assessment, as requested by the Committee, before any commitment was made in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

7. Expresses its concern at the apparent impact on visitor numbers that the new bridge could have and considers that an overall visitor management strategy which considers traffic management in the hinterland of the property needs to be developed urgently as part of the management plan for the property and Agra Fort;

8. Requests furthermore the State Party, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to ensure that impact assessment studies are undertaken for any other development proposal that could affect the properties, including the current visitors traffic access, and museum development proposals at Fatehpur Sikri, before any operational work commitment is entered into;

9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.