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Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple

Sri Lanka
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • 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

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
  • Lack of tourism strategy and interpretation
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 1 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved : 3,333 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 10 December 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, a summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/561/documents.  It provides information on the issues raised by the Committee at its 38th session. The findings and recommendations of the Reactive Monitoring mission carried out by ICOMOS in March 2015 are included below.

  • Management: The site management is based on a traditional management system, supported by a legal framework established during the British colonial period. Ownership of the property is with the Temple Authorities while the management should in principle be carried out jointly through mutual understanding with the Department of Archaeology. No formal arrangements exist to carry out regular meetings.
  • Conservation: Monitoring of the effects of humidity, temperature, light and dust has been commenced through the installation of data loggers. The data is communicated directly to the University of Peradeniya.
  • Funding: Fees collected at the entrance are allocated by the Temple Authority to the infrastructure of the temple, including services and roads.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

Since 2014, some progress with the management and conservation of the property has been made. Although not mentioned in the State Party report, the 2015 ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission was informed that a special committee for Dambulla with experts in different fields has been set up by the Department of Archaeology, and research on problematic issues has been carried out.

The Management Plan of 2010 has not been updated nor fully implemented. The lack of a clear management structure and clear lines of responsibilities was very apparent during the mission and prevented further discussions and insights into this issue. Therefore, it is of utmost urgency that the Management Plan be revised and updated and based on clearly defined governance and communication structures that sets out the interface between the State and Temple authorities, setting short-, mid- and long-term strategies for both Conservation and pilgrim/visitor Management, as well as budget planning.

Furthermore, a site management committee should be set up as a matter of priority and include representatives of the Government, Temple authorities and the local community, as well as experts, in order to improve the site management. This committee should meet on a regular basis to discuss and decide on all matters related to the conservation and management of the World Heritage property.

In terms of conservation, the Department of Archaeology (DOA) has commenced the analysis of problematic issues such as fungi, potter wasps, water leakage, cracks, discoloration of statues and paintings, as well as vandalism. Since this research has only commenced recently, more time is required to complete the research in order to identify appropriate solutions. A Conservation Strategy also needs to be developed as part of the revised Management Plan to address the conservation needs of the property.  It is recommended that the Committee invite the State Party to request technical assistance, if necessary, to support the conservation of stone and wall paintings, in collaboration with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies. The lack of a pilgrim/visitor Management Plan was apparent to the mission. Indeed, there was no control over the number of pilgrims/visitors entering the caves; there were signs of the vandalism to the property, as well as no restrictions on flash photography, causing further threats to the condition of the caves and the wall paintings. Therefore, the State Party needs to develop a pilgrim/visitor Management Strategy, as well as elaborate a policy prohibiting flash photography within the caves. In order to deal with vandalism, security checks should also be introduced at the entrance.

In light of the overall situation of the property it is recommended that the Committee express its serious concern about the apparent threats to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.46
Golden Temple of Dambulla (Sri Lanka) (C 561)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Takes note of the results of the March 2015 ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, and requests the State Party to implement the recommendations of the mission as appropriate;
  4. Expresses its serious concern about the lack of clear management structures and clear lines of responsibilities, and in particular the lack of implementation of the Management Plan which increases the problematic of conservation and pilgrim/visitor management of the property, and therefore strongly urges the State Party to:
    1. Establish a site management committee as a matter of priority, including representatives of the government, Temple authorities and the local community, as well as experts,
    2. Revise and update the Management Plan based on clearly defined governance and communication structures while incorporating traditional management systems, that sets out the interface between the State and Temple authorities, setting short-, mid- and long-term strategies for both conservation and pilgrim/visitor management, as well as budget planning, and to provide the draft to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies,
    3. Develop a Conservation Strategy, as part of the revised Management Plan, to address the conservation needs, develop a pilgrim/visitor Management Strategy to control the number of pilgrims/visitors allowed into each cave, as well as a policy prohibiting flash photography within the caves;
  5. Encourages the State Party, in collaboration with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to request technical assistance, if necessary, to support the conservation of stone and wall paintings;
  6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.46

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Takes note of the results of the March 2015 ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, and requests the State Party to implement the recommendations of the mission as appropriate;
  4. Expresses its serious concern about the lack of clear management structures and clear lines of responsibilities, and in particular the lack of implementation of the Management Plan which increases the problematic of conservation and pilgrim/visitor management of the property, and therefore strongly urges the State Party to:
    1. Establish a site management committee as a matter of priority, including representatives of the government, Temple authorities and the local community, as well as experts,
    2. Revise and update the Management Plan based on clearly defined governance and communication structures while incorporating traditional management systems, that sets out the interface between the State and Temple authorities, setting short-, mid- and long-term strategies for both conservation and pilgrim/visitor management, as well as budget planning, and to provide the draft to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies,
    3. Develop a Conservation Strategy, as part of the revised Management Plan, to address the conservation needs, develop a pilgrim/visitor Management Strategy to control the number of pilgrims/visitors allowed into each cave, as well as a policy prohibiting flash photography within the caves;
  5. Encourages the State Party, in collaboration with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to request technical assistance, if necessary, to support the conservation of stone and wall paintings;
  6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Report year: 2016
Sri Lanka
Date of Inscription: 1991
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
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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