Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Three sites in Bali nominated for World Heritage status

A team representing Bali World Heritage will attend a final meeting at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in the next few weeks regarding a proposal to give three sites on the island world heritage status.

One of the sites is a magnificent landscape of terraced rice fields with a traditional irrigation system in Jatiluwih, Tabanan. The others are Pura Taman Ayun temple in Badung and Pakerisan River in Gianyar.

A spokesman for Pura Taman Ayun, A.A. Prana, said regents of Tabanan, Badung and Gianyar would be part of the team.

"This is a final interview that will determine whether the three sites should be honored as world heritage sites," said Prana, who is also a businessman in the tourism accommodation industry.

He said the proposal to honor the three sites had been submitted to UNESCO in 2000.

He said even though Jatiluwuh had more than 300 hectares of rice fields and was 700 meters above sea level, it had always been well irrigated. Besides preserving the traditional irrigation system, the locals also grew organic plants in the area.

He said the Jatiluwuh agricultural site would be preserved by declaring it a green belt zone so it would not be converted into a residential or industrial area.

The second site is Taman Ayun Temple, which was constructed during the reign of Cokorda Sakti Blambangan, the founder of the powerful kingdom of Mengwi. Ayun means beautiful in Balinese.

The grand temple, built in the 16th century, is surrounded by a wide waterway with various floating flowers. Besides religious rituals, the temple also functions as an irrigation hub.

The third site is Pakerisan River in Gianyar. There are eight historical temples located along the river, including the famous Goa Gajah Temple and Pegulingan Temple.

Inside the temples lie statues of Hindu gods alongside Buddhist places of worship, representing the acculturation between Hinduism and Buddhism.

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