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Ajanta Caves

India
Factors affecting the property in 1997*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Relative humidity
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1997
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1997**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1997

Currently, no buffer zones exist for Ajanta and Ellora. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has suggested that a radius of 5 km surrounding Ajanta be designated as a Green Belt to be administered by the Ministry of Forestry and ASI.  A radius of 1 km of the Elephanta island and its surrounding waters is a protected zone under the Ministry of Environment and ASI is the site custodian of 300 m2 surrounding the caves.

Entrances to Ajanta cave have sun-screen curtains to prevent direct sunlight from damaging their wall paintings. Fumigation for insect eradication within all Ajanta caves and PVA treatment on the wall paintings are being conducted. New grid doors and windows are being installed as preventive measures against entry of bats and birds.  ASI is investigating sources of water seepage at Ajanta and an expert meeting will be held in 1998. Currently cracks are being filled with cement but other options need to be found.  Regulations permit entry to 40 visitors in each wall-painting cave at a time.  However, in reality, there is no visitor-control and approximately 100 people enter each caves at once.  Removal of bats, vegetation and fungus was completed in one of the 34 Ellora caves recently and programmes for carrying out similar work in other caves are being developed.  ASI is awaiting a geological survey report of Elephanta for considering future conservation measures.

Factors that affect all three sites are; (i) tree roots above the caves create cracks and increase water seepage into the caves, which leads to wall painting and sculpture damage and eventual structural instability; (ii) humidity increase within the caves caused by uncontrolled numbers of visitors which leads to fungus growth, attracting insects and eventually bats; (iii) inadequate security encourages vandalism and theft. 

Inadequate illumination at Ajanta could lead to irreversible long-term damage of wall paintings.  Phase I of the Ajanta-Ellora Development Plan, supported by a Japanese OECF loan, will be completed within 1997, upon which evaluation will be conducted before Phase II is implemented.  Reforestation of the Ajanta area within this plan could lead to ecological changes and possible insect population increase. 

Action Required

In view of the information provided by the Secretariat regarding the state of conservation of the Ajanta, Elephanta and Ellora Caves, the Bureau recommended a study be made on the means of vegetation control and selection of species to be planted to prevent soil erosion.  The Bureau also requested the concerned authorities to implement visitor control measures and to keep the Committee informed of  the developments of the OECF Ajanta-Ellora Development Plan and conservation plans at Elephanta.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1997
21 BUR IV.B.43
Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta Caves (India)

In view of the information provided by the Secretariat regarding the state of conservation of the Ajanta, Elephanta and Ellora Caves, and taking note with appreciation of the additional information provided by the Observer of India concerning the national and local efforts being made to safeguard these sites, the Bureau expressed its serious concern over the state of conservation of these sites, especially that of the advanced deterioriation of the wall paintings and insufficient visitor control at the site of Ajanta. In addressing the problem of water seepage, the Bureau recommended that a study be made on the means of vegetation control and selection of species to be planted to prevent soil erosion. While the Bureau commended the plan for establishing a visitors' museum displaying replicas of the wall paintings to decrease the number of visitors entering the Ajanta Caves, it requested the concerned authorities to keep the Committee informed of the developments of the OECF Ajanta-Ellora Development Plan and conservation plans at Elephanta and Ajanta, especialy in relation to the conservation of the fragile wall paintings in Ajanta.

Report year: 1997
India
Date of Inscription: 1983
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 21COM (1997)
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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