The Bali administration will continue its campaign to convince UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to name Taman Ayun temple, the Pakerisan watershed and Batukaru park as World Heritage sites, a senior official said Thursday.
“Despite the long and arduous process, we will continue our efforts to campaign for those three sites,” Bali Cultural Agency head I Ketut Suastika said, adding that the administration was now preparing additional documents requested by UNESCO.
“It’s not an easy process since the UNESCO does not only carry out field inspections to see the actual condition of the sites, but it has also demanded the administration’s political commitment to protect and conserve the sites and their natural surrounding,” he said.
The administration started the campaign in 2002 and UNESCO’s team of experts has visited the sites several times since. The team is slated to carry out another inspection next September.
“In the upcoming visit the team will focus on the dynamic relationship between the sites and their respective surrounding communities,” Suastika added.
In Taman Ayun temple, the team will observe the existing relationships between the temple and the subak (traditional irrigation organization) in Batan Badung.
The rice-growing culture of traditional Bali has given birth to social structures and organizations that center on paddy fields, waterways and temples.
Alongside Desa Pekraman (customary village) and banjar (traditional neighborhood organization), subak emerged as influential players in this culture.
Built in the 17th century, Taman Ayun was the royal temple of the Mengwi Kingdom, once known for its military might and sphere of influence that spanned as far as Blambangan in East Java. Taman Ayun now serves as one of the major temples for the people of Badung regency.
The Pakerisan watershed flows along regions in Gianyar known as the center of political and cultural activities during the reign of Bedulu kingdom. Numerous archaeological sites and artifacts have been found in areas near the watershed. The Bedulu kingdom was conquered by East Java’s Majapahit kingdom military expedition in 14th century, thus ending the reign of the “Balinese” kings.
“In Pakerisan the team will observe the interaction between the watershed and two subak, three customary villages, three temples and an archaeological site,”
The interaction includes social conventions, written awig-awig (customary laws) and rituals observed by members of the subak and the Desa Pekraman in order to preserve the religious sanctity and practical functions of the watershed.
“The proposed Batukaru heritage site spans the territory of 15 different subak and the team will also carry out verification in this area,” Suastika said.
The final results of the verification process will be announced in June 2012.
“By that time we will know whether the UNESCO had affirmed these three sites as World Heritage sites or not. But we are quite optimistic that we will succeed,” he added.
Indonesia Tourism Industry Association Bali chapter head Ngurah Wijaya said the island’s tourism industry would get a significant boost if the three sites were announced as World Heritage sites.
“It will be a major boost for our efforts to portray the island as the world’s top destination for cultural tourism,” he stressed.