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Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur

Factors affecting the property in 2002*
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Deterioration of the authentic characteristics of the property

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of capacity in conservation techniques;
  • Lack of management mechanism (including legislation);
  • Lack of monitoring system;
  • Lack of human or financial resources.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2002
Requests approved: 1 (from 1986-1986)
Total amount approved : 20,000 USD
1986 Installation of a drainage system at Paharpur (Approved)   20,000 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

Following alarming reports on the state of conservation of Pahapur from independent experts, the World Heritage Centre organized a reactive monitoring mission to the property in April 2002. The mission witnessed the completion of systematic removal by the authorities of most of the 1,000 original sculpted brick plaques, which had once adorned the lower levels of the vihara.  According to the authorities, most of the removed plaques were stored, but the mission was unable to examine them.  In place of the original plaques, elaborate new plaques including imaginary decorations created by the local artisans have been placed onto the vihara.  Moreover, the entire lower section of the original wall of the main vihara has been replaced by a new brick wall. The original mouldings and brick work can be seen in three minute areas.

According to the authorities, the removal of plaques and replacement by replicas in case of severe deterioration was an accepted practice within the original 1983 Master Plan.   The World Heritage Centre mission was informed by the authorities that the Representative of UNESCO's Division of Cultural Heritage, who originally managed the UNESCO International Safeguarding Campaign, approved all actions taken until recently. 

At the time of the preparation of this working document, the World Heritage Centre was seeking further information from the Division of Cultural Heritage and the authorities.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2002
26 COM 21B.37
Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur (Bangladesh)
The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined the state of conservation of the property, the findings and recommendations of the April 2002 UNESCO expert mission, new information provided by the State Party and ICOMOS;

2. While commending the authorities for their efforts to increase the protection of the property, expresses concern over the deterioration of the terracotta plaques and the structure and partial loss of authenticity of the property through the systematic removal and replacement of the 9th-century terracotta plaques which originally decorated the lower terraces of the Vihara walls;

3. Noting that a UNESCO mission will be organized in July 2002 to hold consultations with the authorities to enhance conservation, management and presentation of the property;

4. Requests the authorities together with the UNESCO mission to:

a) consider the nomination of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger in order to mobilize the significant international financial and technical resources for addressing the conservation challenges facing the property; 

b) elaborate an action plan to enhance long-term conservation and management of the site, and to remove the ascertained and potential threats facing the property;

5. Encourages the authorities to submit an international assistance request;

6. Requests the State Party to provide by 1 February 2003, a report on the state of conservation of the property for examination at its 27th session in June/July 2003.

The Committee may wish to examine further information that will be made available at the time of its session and take the appropriate decision thereupon.

Report year: 2002
Date of Inscription: 1985
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 26COM (2002)

* : 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.