Monks to be trained in conservation of Buddhist sites

Press Trust of India, Jan 17, 2005

New Delhi, India -- The growing pressure of tourism on Buddhist sites in India has stirred cultural organisations to train monks and local communities in heritage conservation by developing preventive conservation skills.

The project is a response to the fears expressed by monks in the Buddhist circuit that their heritage is threatened because of commercial interests which take over, when tourism comes in.

The traditional skills are fast disappearing and the infrastructure at the Buddhist sites is changed keeping in mind the commerical interests, they allege.

Thus, in order to strengthen the Buddhist traditions within the framework of the community, world cultural body UNESCO has tied up with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to preserve local traditions, crafts and architecture of these sites with the help of monks and other community members.

Following a successful three-year pilot project in Luang Prabang in Lao PDR where monks were made aware of local craft techniques needed in the maintenance of their monastries and murals and ways to conserve them, the cultural body has decided to implement the project in other regions of Asia where Buddhism is prevalent.

The Rs 1800,000 US dollar project 'Cultural Survival And Revival of the Buddhist Sangha' will concentrate on Cambodia, China, Laos PDR, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, India and Nepal. PTI