1.         Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple (Sri Lanka) (C 561)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1991

Criteria  (i)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/561/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved: USD 3,333
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/561/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

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

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/561/

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;

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 Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

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.

Decision Adopted: 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.