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Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple

Sri Lanka
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Pests
  • Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Other Threats:

    Continued deterioration of the paintings; General deterioration of the Golden Temple

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Newly (in 1999) constructed temple, alien to the World Heritage complex  (issue resolved)
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Impacts of tourism / visitors / recreation
  • Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses
  • Local conditions affecting physical fabric (Impact of water ingress and other natural forces)
  • Management systems / management plan (Lack of tourism strategy and interpretation)
  • Pests (Impacts of insect activity)
  • Others (Continued deterioration of the paintings; General deterioration of the Golden Temple)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 1 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved : 3,333 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

November-December 1994: ICOMOS mission to Sri Lanka; December 1998: ICOMOS Monitoring mission to Dambulla, Kandy and Galle, Sri Lanka; March 2015: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

The State Party did not submit the state of conservation report, which was requested by the World Heritage Committee in Decision 43 COM 7B.75 at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019).

In the 2019 Golden Temple of Dambulla Revised Plan of Management, submitted together with the State Party’s 2019 report on the state of conservation, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/561/documents/, the State Party undertook to address nine immediate (1 year) and thirteen short term (2-4 year) actions that address high priority conservation, interpretation and management issues, a number of which have been highlighted by the Committee at its previous sessions, including;

  • Exploring suitable solutions for the property’s various conservation issues and submitting documentation;
  • Implementing necessary research and planning tasks leading to the finalization of a comprehensive Visitor Management Strategy, adopting a balanced approach to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), its role as a pilgrimage site, its conservation requirements and the needs of visitors;
  • Exploring actively means to ensure the transmission of traditional knowledge and skills for wall painting and sculpting.

The ICOMOS Technical Review was provided in September 2020 to the State Party on the Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple Management Plan (2019-26), which was received on 8 November 2019.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

In the absence of a report on the state of conservation of the property, progress achieved by the State Party towards implementation of the 2019 revised Management Plan cannot be evaluated. Notwithstanding the progress that has been previously reported, the property remains in a perilous state and significant efforts are still required to achieve sustainable conservation of murals and sculptures, transmission of traditional knowledge and skills, and an appropriate balance between the needs and interests of religious communities, pilgrims, tourists and the local community.

However, the 2019 Management Plan for the property clearly identifies issues within the property, many of them previously the subject of Committee requests, and proposes a prioritised action plan to address them. Once implemented, these actions should support an integrated approach that takes into consideration the conservation of the property and its use, the needs of pilgrims and other visitors, and the better transmission of knowledge of OUV to both groups. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to continue with the finalization of the actions identified in the 2019 Management Plan and to submit the solutions and reports arising from the immediate and short-term actions to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies.

The Management Plan gives medium-term priority (4-7 years) to developing a Tourism Management Policy and Strategy, which was previously requested by the Committee as a Tourism Management Strategy (Decision 42 COM 7B.16) and as a Visitor Management Strategy (Decision 43 COM 7B.75), while some of the component studies and actions in the Management Plan are given short-term priority (2-4 years). On the other hand, the State Party’s 2019 report on the state of conservation stated that a draft Tourism Management Strategy would be submitted in 2019, and that a pilgrim management system would also be developed by local experts, though this is not identified as an action within the Management Plan. The potential for confusion of these various requests and responses suggests that it would be useful to reiterate unambiguously the Committee’s previous request. It is therefore recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to finalise a Visitor Management Strategy, to include a Tourism Management Strategy and a Pilgrim Management Strategy, and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies.

The State Party should be requested to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, as previously decided in Decision 43 COM 7B.75. The mission should assess the state of conservation of the property, and in particular the implementation of the revised Management Plan, the ongoing work to document and conserve the property, progress with the Visitor Management Strategy and the proposed minor boundary modification to expand the property’s buffer zone, as previously requested.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.150
Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple (Sri Lanka) (C 561)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.75, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Regrets that the State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property by the deadline of 1 December 2020, as requested by the Committee in the aforementioned Decision;
  4. Welcomes nonetheless the efforts and progress made by the State Party to improve the overall state of conservation and management of the property;
  5. Urges the State Party to continuously implement the Revised Golden Temple of Dambulla Management Plan (2019-2026) with further refinement as recommended by ICOMOS through the Technical Review;
  6. Requests the State Party to submit the conservation approaches and related reports arising from the implementation of the immediate and short-term priorities identified in the 2019 Management Plan to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Urges again the State Party to finalize a Visitor Management Strategy, including a Tourism Management Strategy and a Pilgrim Management Strategy, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  8. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, as requested in Decision 43 COM 7B.75, to assess the state of conservation of the property, and in particular the implementation of the revised Management Plan, the ongoing work to document and conserve the property, progress with the Visitor Management Strategy and the proposed minor boundary modification to expand the property’s buffer zone;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the Committee at its 46th session.

Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.150

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.75, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku 2019),
  3. Regrets that the State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property by the deadline of 1 December 2020, as requested by the Committee in the aforementioned Decision;
  4. Welcomes nonetheless the efforts and progress made by the State Party to improve the overall state of conservation and management of the property;
  5. Urges the State Party to continuously implement the Revised Golden Temple of Dambulla Management Plan (2019-2026) with further refinement as recommended by ICOMOS through the Technical Review;
  6. Requests the State Party to submit the conservation approaches and related reports arising from the implementation of the immediate and short-term priorities identified in the 2019 Management Plan to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Urges again the State Party to finalize a Visitor Management Strategy, including a Tourism Management Strategy and a Pilgrim Management Strategy, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  8. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, as requested in Decision 43 COM 7B.75, to assess the state of conservation of the property, and in particular the implementation of the revised Management Plan, the ongoing work to document and conserve the property, progress with the Visitor Management Strategy and the proposed minor boundary modification to expand the property’s buffer zone;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the Committee at its 46th session in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Sri Lanka
Date of Inscription: 1991
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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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