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Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya

India
Factors affecting the property in 2012*
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses
  • Other Threats:

    Loss of character of the cultural landscape directly associated with the property and its outstanding universal value

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Lack of co-ordinated and integrated management system;

b) Loss of character of the cultural landscape directly associated with the property and its outstanding universal value;

c) Lack of protection under national legislation.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2012
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2012**

April 2005: Joint ICOMOS-World Heritage Centre mission; February 2011 Joint ICOMOS-ICCROM-World Heritage Centre mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

From 21 to 27 February 2011 a joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS monitoring mission visited the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010). The mission report and its recommendations are available online: https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/36COM/.

A report on the state of conservation was provided by the State Party on 1 February 2012. This report addresses the continuing efforts towards the definition of a buffer zone, and improvement of management cooperation, in particular with regard to pilgrim management and protection of the landscape setting. It further discusses the Committee’s requests to re-nominate the property as a cultural landscape and to increase its legal protection by listing it as a national monument.

a) State of Conservation of the property, in particular the Bodhi Tree

The State Party reports that the overall state of conservation of the property is satisfactory and that the Bodhi Tree had been attested as sound and healthy, following the latest report of the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, India,in January 2012. The joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS monitoring mission equally confirmed the satisfactory overall state of conservation and commended the State Party for its efforts, but at the same time also noted that the landscape setting remains vulnerable.

b) Buffer zone, setting and re-nomination of the property as a cultural landscape

Following the report of the State Party, the potential re-nomination of the property as a cultural landscape caused difficulties, predominantly as a result of the immense development pressure in the broader urban and rural setting. The State Party therefore proposes to further study the possibility of extending the property as a serial site, to include several other sites associated to the life of the Lord Buddha.

The joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS mission shared the concerns of the State Party with regard to a potential re-nomination as a cultural landscape and recommended adopting a two step approach. As the first step, the State Party would, on the basis of the present boundaries of the property, define an appropriate buffer zone and establish regulations for its protection as a matter of priority. Following this, further investigations concerning the feasibility of a serial extension to the property would be conducted, aimed at conceptualizing this serial approach as an additional means of wider landscape protection.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that the World Heritage Committee consider this approach, but note that once the boundaries for the new buffer zone are established, strict development regulations would need to be established and regional development plans would need to be revisited. They further recommend conducting capacity-building activities for all local stakeholders aimed at raising awareness for World Heritage management requirements and reversing the apparent misconception that World Heritage status is an obstacle to local development.

c) Site and visitor management

The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) is the responsible authority for the site management, and it works in close cooperation with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) whenever necessary. The State Party report outlines that the central management concern is visitor pressures from the steadily growing number of pilgrims. In a recent peak, the property was visited by more than 300,000 pilgrims within a mere 15 days on the occasion of the Kalachakra Initiation held at the beginning of 2012.

The February 2011 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM monitoring mission recommended that the State Party conduct a one-year study of pilgrimage patterns and visitor behavior to better understand the pressures and develop possible mitigation strategies. From this study, a comprehensive pilgrim management strategy should be developed.

d) Improving legal protection at the national level

As discussed with the State Party during the February 2011 mission and following a careful analysis of the pros and cons of a legal protection as a national monument, the State Party requested to retain the property’s special legal status, which is protected under the Bodhgaya Temple Act of 1949. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the current management coordination by the BTMC and its cooperation with the ASI and the State Government of Bihar on the basis of this Act are indeed successful. They further accept the position that the status of a national monument would cause legal and financial obstacles to the use and function of the temple as a living pilgrimage site. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies therefore support the pragmatic approach currently applied and suggest to strengthen and build up existing mechanisms and work within the legal framework already put into place through the State Government of Bihar so as to provide BTMC formalized status within the strategic management framework and Management Plan of the property. 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2012

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies commend the State Party for the efforts made and the satisfactory state of conservation of the property, including the sacred Bodhi Tree. They concur with the recommendations of the February 2011 mission that the landscape setting is still vulnerable and requires urgent protection through a balanced vision which integrates the requirements of conservation, pilgrimage and community development, and through the formal designation of an adequate buffer zone for the immediate setting as well as adequate protective regulations for the proposed buffer zone as a matter of priority.

As a mid-term strategy, a serial extension of the property to include other sites with outstanding associations to the life of the Lord Buddha could be envisaged. Based on the established buffer zone, the Management Plan and the regional development plans need to be revised. They would suggest that the State Party take effective steps to enhance coordination through existing institutional frameworks in the national and State governments to mitigate any future threats which may arise through uncontrolled or unplanned urban and rural development that may affect the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies support the pragmatic approach currently applied by the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) to retain the property’s special legal status, which is protected under the Bodhgaya Temple Act of 1949. Meanwhile, they recommend the State Party to conduct capacity-building activities for all local stakeholders concerned to raise awareness for World Heritage management requirements. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies further recommend conducting a study on pilgrimage patterns to identify the most significant pressures and develop mitigation strategies. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2012
36 COM 7B.61
Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (India) (C1056 rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2.   Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.70, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3.   Acknowledges the efforts made by the State Party to address the conservation issues at the property; and notes the pragmatic approach currently applied by the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) to retain its special legal status, under the Bodhgaya Temple Act of 1949;

4.   Also notes the results of the February 2011 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission, endorses its recommendations on the satisfactory condition of the property, including the sacred Bodhi Tree, and requests the State Party to:

a)  Ensure urgent protection of the vulnerable setting and the wider landscape through a balanced vision, which integrates conservation, pilgrimage and community development,

b)  Formally designate an adequate buffer zone for the immediate setting of the property and appropriate protection for the wider landscape,

c)  Identify, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies a two-step approach, firstly, an adequate buffer zone for the protection of the immediate setting as well as a regulatory framework for the protection of the wider  landscape, following as second step, a serial extension of the property to include other sites with outstanding associations to the life of Lord Buddha,

d)  Revise the Management Plan and the regional development plan in light of the proposed buffer zone boundaries and regulations; and conduct a study of pilgrimage patterns and visitor behaviour to identify the most significant pressures and develop, on this basis, a comprehensive visitor/pilgrims management strategy,

e)  Undertake capacity-building activities for all local stakeholders concerned to raise awareness of World Heritage management requirements;

5.   Encourages the State Party to submit the designated buffer zone as a minor boundary modification;

6.   Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Draft Decision: 36 COM 7B.61

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.70, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Acknowledges the efforts made by the State Party to address the conservation issues at the property; and notes the pragmatic approach currently applied by the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) to retain its special legal status, under the Bodhgaya Temple Act of 1949;

4. Also notes the results of the February 2011 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission, endorses its recommendations on the satisfactory condition of the property, including the sacred Bodhi Tree, and requests the State Party to:

a) Ensure urgent protection of the vulnerable setting and the wider landscape through a balanced vision, which integrates conservation, pilgrimage and community development,

b) Formally designate an adequate buffer zone for the immediate setting of the property and appropriate protection for the wider landscape,

c) Identify, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies a two-step approach, firstly, an adequate buffer zone for the protection of the immediate setting as well as a regulatory framework for the protection of the wider landscape, following as second step, a serial extension of the property to include other sites with outstanding associations to the life of Lord Buddha,

d) Revise the Management Plan and the regional development plan in light of the proposed buffer zone boundaries and regulations; and conduct a study of pilgrimage patterns and visitor behaviour to identify the most significant pressures and develop, on this basis, a comprehensive visitor/pilgrims management strategy,

e) Undertake capacity-building activities for all local stakeholders concerned to raise awareness of World Heritage management requirements;

5. Encourages the State Party to submit the designated buffer zone as a minor boundary modification;

6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Report year: 2012
India
Date of Inscription: 2002
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 36COM (2012)
Exports

* : 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”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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