Monday, December 21, 2009

Indonesia proposes 3 Bali world heritage sites

Indonesia has proposed three natural and historical locations in Bali as possible world heritage sites in the upcoming 2010 selection process by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

Director General for History and Archaeology Hari Untoro Drajat said that the government is now preparing all the requirements needed to possibly make one of locations as a Unesco world heritage site.

The three include the Pakerisan Riverbed in Gianyar, traditional rice fields Jatiluwih and Taman Ayun Temple in Mengwi, Badung regency.

"The three sites have strategic value to safeguard Bali's culture, traditions and environment," Drajat said.

The 45.22-kilometer Pakerisan river irrigates 30 surrounding villages in Gianyar regency. The villages on each side of the river were among the earliest settlements in Bali.

"There are 30 historical sites along the Pakerisan Riverbed including the Tampak Siring water palace, the Tirta Empul Temple, the Gunung Kawi temple and Goa Gajah built between the 8th and 11th centuries B.C.," he said.

The Taman Ayun Temple is one of the relics from the Mengwi Kingdom, an historical royal dynasty in Bali, while the Jatiluwih rice fields reflect Balinese agricultural society.

The three clearly portray the lives of the Balinese people and their tradition and culture during the Tri Hita Karana era, which focused on harmonious relations between nature, the people and the Creator.

The three sites Unesco's are co vered by one nomination number (C.1194). "We really expect Indonesia to have three more world heritage sites. This can promote Bali in particular and Indonesia in general and globally" Drajat said.

Currently, Indonesia has three designated world heritage sites at Borobudur Temple, Prambanan Temple and at the Sangiran archaeological sites, all in Central Java.

The Indonesian government has also previously proposed Tana Toraja in South Sulawesi as a Unesco world heritage site.

Head of Bali Cultural Office Ida Bagus Sedhawa said that it was difficult to prepare the sites as world heritage sites. "We have to prepare the people to fully support the plan by preserving the present historical sites as they are. Meaning, they cannot build any physical construction on the sites, which is hard considering that the three places are top tourist destinations," Sedhawa said.

Another tough challenge might come from investors who acquire fertile lands and rice fields hoping for big profits while making way for construction projects. "We have a new master plan that can protect these areas from any development activities," Sedhawa said.

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