UNESCO has asserted that no reference was “ever made” to the delisting of the Golden Temple of Badulla, one of the eight World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka, during the recent visit of its Director-General Irina Bokova to the country.
Located about 175 km from Colombo, the temple was declared a World Heritage site in 1991. The cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the “largest, best-preserved” cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka, according to UNESCO’s website. It contains the Buddhist mural paintings, covering an area of 2,100 sq. m, and 157 statues.
There have been reports of concern over the state of conservation of the monument and in March 2015, the International Committee on Monuments and Sites, the UNESCO’s advisory body for cultural properties, had dispatched a reactive monitoring mission to assess the situation.
Responding to reports in sections of the media on the Golden Temple, the UNESCO on Thursday quoted Ms. Bokova as saying in her press conference in Colombo a few days ago that her organisation was “committed to working through dialogue” with the government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations made by the mission to improve the conservation and management of the site.
The Director-General, who went to three other World Heritage sites — the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya and Kandy’s Dalada Maligawa, which form part of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka — had also offered to provide capacity building and technical support to the government.