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Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha

Nepal
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Other Threats:

    Extremely harsh natural environment; Improve the drainage for the Temple

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Construction of concrete foundations at the Maya Devi Temple site in December 1998
  • Need for a site conservation plan
  • Extremely harsh natural environment
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Requests approved: 2 (from 2000-2001)
Total amount approved : 40,000 USD
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Previous deliberations:
Twenty-third session of the World Heritage Bureau - (paragraph IV.70)
Twenty-third session of the World Heritage Committee - (paragraph X.46; Annex VIII page 105)
Twenty-fourth session of the World Heritage Committee - (paragraph VIII.39; Annex X page 130)

International Assistance:

Technical Co-operation:    US$ 20,000 2000 Organisation of an International Technical Meeting for the Conservation, Presentation and Development of the Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini.

Main Issues:

  • Conservation method for the very fragile archaeological deposits and remains of the Maya Devi Temple exposed to natural elements since the large-scale excavation in 1996.
  • Need for non-destructive geophysical survey of archaeological remains unexcavated within the core and the buffer zone (i.e. the Sacred Garden) of the World Heritage site.
  • Need for garden landscape conservation scheme to ensure long-term conservation, presentation and development of the site.

New information:

  • Following the request of the World Heritage Committee, a UNESCO Reactive Monitoring Mission took place in April 2000 composed of two international experts in the fields of South Asian archaeology and heritage site presentation and development.
  • An ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission was also undertaken in June 2000.
  • The Recommendations of both the UNESCO and the ICOMOS missions were adopted by the Bureau at its twenty-fourth session, and transmitted to the State Party for examination and possible adoption. The authorities informed the Centre that all recommendations were adopted and implementation begun for the necessary actions to be taken.
  • Between 5-9 April 2001, an International Technical Meeting for the Conservation, Presentation and Development of the Maya Devi Temple was organised by the Centre, UNESCO Kathmandu, and the national authorities concerned. The authorities, in close collaboration with the World Heritage Centre, have commenced the implementation of some of the meeting’s Recommendations since 7 May 2001.
  • At the request of the national authorities received in May 2001, the Centre is organising an urgent mission by an international brick conservation expert to examine the structural character and stability of the remains of the alcove of the Maya Devi Temple.
  • Following the recommendation of the International Technical Meeting that a simple, non-intrusive “Golden Pavilion” shelter made of precious material should be designed and constructed to protect the Marker Stone, Nativity Image and Alcove Remains of the Maya Devi Temple, the national authorities are preparing a new design for the shelter, in close collaboration with the UNESCO international experts.
  • To assist the national authorities in carrying out the non-destructive geophysical survey for the core and the buffer zone, the Centre and the University of Bradford (U.K.) are mobilising experts and funds to assist the national authorities in commencing the work from August 2001.
  • The Centre has initiated the mobilisation of funds and technical expertise to elaborate and implement a sacred garden landscape plan adapted for the site’s character as a centre of pilgrimage in conformity with the Kenzo Tange Master Plan adopted by the State Party and support by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1978.
Action Required
The Bureau commends the national authorities for taking the necessary actions to temporarily suspend the development of the fragile Maya Devi Temple remains until the elaboration of guiding principles for its conservation, presentation and development. The Bureau takes note of the concluding recommendations of the International Technical Meeting and urges the State Party to continue the implementation of these recommendations. The Bureau requests the World Heritage Centre to continue its efforts in mobilising international technical and financial support to increase the capacity of the national authorities in carrying out the recommended actions. Finally, the Bureau requests the State Party and the World Heritage Centre to report to the 25th session of the World Heritage Committee on the progress made in their efforts to ensure appropriate conservation, presentation and development of the site.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Following the request of the Government of Nepal, the recommendations of the International Technical Meeting for the Conservation, Presentation and Development of the Maya Devi Temple (5-9 April 2001, Kathmandu & Lumbini, Nepal), and at the request of the Bureau, the Centre organized two technical missions by an international brick expert to examine the state of conservation of the alcove remains of the Maya Devi Temple. During the first mission in July 2001, the international brick expert witnessed the inundation of the Maya Devi Temple archaeological remains and examined the character and structural stability of the alcove remains. During the second mission in September 2001, the expert and the national authorities agreed upon a step-by-step preliminary plan of action to address the main issues which are (a) serious drainage problem, (b) shelter options for protecting the Maya Devi Temple, and (c) long term conservation and presentation of the Maya Devi Temple as both an archaeological property and pilgrimage centre of international significance.

The Centre also assisted the Nepali authorities in implementing the Non-Destructive Geophysical Survey being undertaken by the national site-managers in close co-operation with the University of Bradford Department of Archaeological Sciences team to identify the high and low sensitive archaeological zones within the core zone of the Lumbini World Heritage property. This activity, commenced in late August 2001, will continue until December 2001. The results of the survey and its analysis will be utilized to finalize the plans for the drainage system, “Golden Pavilion” shelter and conservation of the Maya Devi Temple and to plan a pilgrimage circuit within the core zone of the property.

The UNESCO Kathmandu Office informed the Centre that it has encouraged the co-operation of the World Food Programme (WFP), which may provide contribution in kind for the hundreds of workers who will be employed by the Lumbini Development Trust to complete the larger drainage system of the Sacred Garden of Lumbini in accordance with the Tange Kenzo Master Plan. This large circular drainage system is located along the periphery of the buffer zone, approximately 2 km away from the core zone and Maya Devi Temple. When the drainage canals are completed, it is expected that the dramatic rise and fall of the water table within the core zone will stabilize, reducing the negative effects to the property caused by capillary actions.

The Centre continued efforts in the mobilization of funds and technical expertise to elaborate a sacred garden landscape plan adapted for the site’s character as a centre of pilgrimage in conformity with the Kenzo Tange Master Plan adopted by the State Party and supported by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1978.

The full report of the two international brick expert missions and the interim executive brief of the University Bradford – Nepal Non-Destructive Geophysical Survey activity had not yet been submitted to the Centre at the time of the preparation of this working document. The findings and recommendations of these documents will be transmitted to the Bureau at its twenty-fifth extraordinary session. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
25 BUR V.235
Lumbini, Birthplace of the Lord Buddha (Nepal)

V.235     The Bureau examined the state of conservation of the site and noted with appreciation, the recent measures taken by the national authorities in close co-operation with the World Heritage Centre and the UNESCO Kathmandu Office, to address the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee, its Bureau, ICOMOS and the Centre. The Bureau commended the national authorities for taking the necessary actions to temporarily suspend the development of the fragile Maya Devi Temple remains until the elaboration of the guiding principles for its conservation, presentation and development. The Bureau took note of the concluding recommendations of the International Technical Meeting (April 2001) and urged the State Party to continue the implementation of these recommendations. The Bureau requested the World Heritage Centre to continue its efforts in mobilizing international technical and financial support to increase the capacity of the national authorities in carrying out the recommended actions. Finally, the Bureau requested the State Party and the World Heritage Centre to report to the twenty-fifth session of the World Heritage Committee on the progress made in their efforts to ensure long-term conservation, presentation and development of the site. 

The Bureau may wish to examine further information at the time of its session. 

Report year: 2001
Nepal
Date of Inscription: 1997
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(vi)
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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