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Sites Nominated for World Heritage: Bali

Bali is, without a doubt, a pristine island when you get away from the mayhem of the tourist strip of Kuta and travel around it. Beautiful beaches, rainforests, lush green jungle, towering mountains, a mystical culture and of course, beautiful people.

I was reading an article the other day about World Heritage Listings being proposed for three main sites on the island. Although the three chosen are worthy of heritage listing, there are so many other places worthy. Why not just Heritage list the whole island of Bali!.

Here’s the article from the Jakarta Post:

Three Bali sites nominated as World Heritage status
Rita A. Widiadana, The Jakarta Post, Gianyar

Indonesia has nominated three sites on the island of Bali for world cultural and natural heritage listings with UNESCO.

Herry Untoro Drajat, the director general for culture at the State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, told The Jakarta Post that the three places had outstanding historical and natural worth not just to the people of Bali and Indonesia but the entire world.

The Jatiluwih rice terraces in Tabanan regency, have been nominated, along with Pura Taman Ayun temple in Mengwi, Badung, and Tukad Pakerisan River in Gianyar regency.

Indonesia already has seven sites with heritage listings, including the seventh century Buddhist temple Borobudur, its neighbouring Hindu temple Prambanan, Sangiran prehistoric park in Central Java, Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java, rainforest areas in Sumatra and Lorentz national park in Papua.

Indonesia proposed the three new sites to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO several years ago.

“Members of the committee visited our nominees last November and will come to the sites again on Jan. 21 this year,” the director general said, adding that the winners would be announced in June.

The chance to snare world heritage status for Bali was a positive step, he said.

“We have already met the committee’s requirements and we are now preparing the master plan for preservation, management and monitoring systems at each site,” Untoro said.

Under the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Convention, any cultural or natural site with a world heritage listing is regarded as part of the legacy of every person around the world.

A key benefit of ratifying the convention, particularly for developing countries like Indonesia, is that it grants access to international technical, preservation and funding assistance, especially after damage due to natural disasters or war.

Bali’s Subak Jatiluwih rice terraces in Tabanan regency are a refined example of one of the world’s best agrarian systems.

In the past, Balinese farmers established multi-tiered rice fields, canals and terraced hillsides to grow rice. Subak is also home to a generations-old democratic and communal organization, the members of which abide by its rules in planting, irrigation and farming as well as religious rituals.

The rice terraces are Bali’s most precious legacy and must be preserved for future generations, says Agung Oka Astawa, the head of Bali’s Archaeological Agency.

“It is proof to the world that Bali has one of the most efficient farming systems on earth, despite the islands rapid social and economic changes,” Agung said.

Tukad Pakerisan or the “River of the Kris” (a traditional Indonesian ceremonial dagger) in Gianyar regency, some 50 kilometer north of Denpasar, is home to the remains of generations of Balinese societies, from its pre-Hindu Bronze Age to the golden age of the Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms between the 11th and 17th centuries.

Just a short distance from the famous art center Ubud, the areas along the Tukad Pakerisan and Tukad Petanu rivers, dubbed Indonesia’s “valley of the kings“, are regarded as the island’s richest archaeological zones.

Some of the most important discoveries at the site include the Goa Gajah (the Elephant Cave), Pura (temple) Gunung Kawi, Pura Mengening, Pura Tirta Empul, Pura Candi Tebing and Pura Tegal Lingga.

“These places of worship and monuments are of religious, historical and archaeological importance. They provide clear evidence of Bali’s pre- and historical periods,” said Made Suandra, the head of the Bali and West Nusa Tenggara Antiquities Agency. Preserving Tukad Pakerisan and Jatiluwih is a challenge, as the sites are also areas popular with developers wanting to build villas and luxury hotels.

Pura Taman Ayun, however, is a safe nominee. Built in the 17th century by the Mengwi kingdom, Pura Taman Ayun, or “Beautiful Garden“, is a perfect example of Balinese traditional architecture being blended harmoniously with Indian, Chinese and Western elements. It is currently under the auspices of Puri Mengwi and the local community.

If the nominations are accepted by UNESCO, these historical sites will be in the custody of the local, national and world heritage bodies and communities.