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Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple

Sri Lanka
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses
  • Other Threats:

    Continued deterioration of the paintings; New Buddha statue introduced at the entrance to the property

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Newly (in 1999) constructed temple, alien to the World Heritage complex  issue resolved)
  • General deterioration of the Golden Temple
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 1 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved : 3,333 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 6 February 2014, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, upon request made by the World Heritage Centre regarding the introduction of a Buddha statue at the entrance of the property and other issues related to the management and ownership of the property.

The State Party reports that while the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) has officially been responsible for its conservation and management since 1996, it could not intervene any more in the management of the property. Instead, since 1996, the management has been taken over by the Temple Authorities and this includes the management of entrance fees, infrastructure in and around the property, visitor facilitators, and conservation and restoration of 2100 m² mural paintings as well as 157 medium to outsized polychrome sculptures. 

The State Party enlists the current issues in the property as follows:

  • Poor working relationship and coordination between the Temple Authorities and the principal heritage management authorities;
  • Continued deterioration of the paintings due to no system of monitoring of the elements and features;
  • Misunderstanding and lack of confidence of the Temple Authorities on the approach to mural painting conservation by the principal heritage management authorities;
  • Rapidly decreasing traditional skill and the talent of the direct descendants of the Master Painters suggest that if this trend continues, the traditional knowledge of preparing paint using natural materials will also be lost in the near future;
  • The lack of focus in conservation and presenting attributes of the property;
  • Lack of maintenance plan for the elements which needs technical input by the Temple authorities;
  • Lack of statutory control of the buffer zone in the preservation of the property’s setting and inadequacy of the extent of the buffer zone;
  • Disruptive impact on the sanctity of the sacred space and spiritual activities of the devotees due to tourism;
  • Need for a strategy in site interpretation that does not destroy the sanctity of the site;
  • Restricted access to different spaces of the cave shrines.

The State Party reports that there are unauthorized and unacceptable new additions to the property which are beyond the control of the CCF.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

It is recommended that the Committee express its concern over the current situation in which the relevant authorities seem to encounter difficulties in conservation and management of the property.

In this context, It is also recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to invite a reactive monitoring mission to the property to carry out a thorough assessment on its state of conservation, including its management effectiveness ranging from conservation to visitor management as well as the appropriateness of a newly introduced golden Buddha statue at the site, as it is incumbent upon the State Party to ensure the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

It is recommended that the Committee also encourage the State Party to be involved in the management of the property, in particular on the management system that should involve not only the Temple authorities, but also the relevant authorities of the State Party. For this purpose, the State Party should explore in future the most appropriate way to manage this property, in particular issues related to the ownership, which might be separated from the management authorities.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7B.22
Golden Temple of Dambulla (Sri Lanka) (C 561)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add and WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add.Corr,
  2. Recalling Decision 21 COM VII.C.55 adopted at its 21st session (Naples, 1997),
  3. Expresses its concern at the current situation under which the property has been managed solely by the Temple authorities without any involvement of the relevant authorities of the State Party;
  4. Strongly requests the State Party to submit a state of conservation report as a matter of urgency and to invite an ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property to carry out the following:
    1. a thorough analysis on the current situation on how the property is being managed by the Temple authorities and the role of the State Party including any remedial meassures if necessary,
    2. a thorough analysis of the state of conservation of the attributes namely, overall interior, paintings, sculptures and the spiritual atmosphere with proposals to ensure their protection,
    3. make a series of recommendations addressing the issues related to conservation and management of the property, in particular on its structure, that should involve not only the Temple authorities but also the relevant authorities of the State Party as well as current status of the maintenance and monitoring procedures in place;
  5. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2015, a detailed report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the progress achieved in the state of conservation of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.
Draft Decision:            38 COM 7B.22

The World Heritage Committee,

1.         Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,

2.         Recalling Decision 21 COM VII.C.55 adopted at its 21st session (Naples, 1997),

3.         Expresses its concern at the current situation under which the property has been managed solely by the Temple authorities without any involvement of the relevant authorities of the State Party;

4.         Strongly requests the State Party to submit a state of conservation report as a matter of urgency and to invite an ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property to carry out the following:

a)         a through anaysis on the current situation on how the property is being managed by the Temple authorities and the role of the State Party including any remedial meassures if necessary,

b)         a throrough analysis of the state of conservation of the attributes namely, overall interior, paintings, sculptures and the spiritual atmosphere with proposals to ensure their protection,

c)         make a series of recommendations addressing the issues related to conservation and management of the property, in particular on its structure, that should involve not only the Temple authorities but also the relevant authorities of the State Party as well as current status of the maintenance and monitoring procedures in place;

5.         Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, a detailed report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the progress achieved in the state of conservation of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.

Report year: 2014
Sri Lanka
Date of Inscription: 1991
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(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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