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Besakih Temple to Become a World Heritage Site?

Indonesian Government Tries to Add Tana Toraja and Pura Besakih to List of 690 World Heritage Centers by the United Nations.

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Mr. I Gusti Nyoman Anom, the Director General of History, Pre-History and Museums at the Department of Culture and Tourism, has announced that the Government is trying to have Bali's Pura Besakih Temple and Sulawesi's Tana Toraja declared World Heritage Sites by the United Nations in order to help preserve the unique physical and environmental qualities of the two locations.

Speaking at a coffee morning hosted at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Mr. Anom explained that the initial step on behalf of the Government is lobbying the local residents at the two sites, persuading them of the value of such a move. This, according to the Director General, is not an altogether easy process as local residents must first be convinced that the declaration of international status as a heritage site will not interfere with local religious and cultural traditions and practices centered around the sites.

Currently, Indonesia hosts 6 of the 690 World Heritage Sites formally protected under U.N. treaty. The existing sites and their year of acceptance into the program are:

The Komodo National Park (1991)

The Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java (1991)

The Borobudur Temple in Central Java (1991)

The Prambanan Temple Compound in Central Java (1991)

The Sangrian Early Man Site in Central Java (1996)

Lorentz National Park in Papua (1999)

Pura Besakih located on the slopes of Bali's Mount Agung is the most important temple of the Bali-Hindu faith. Estimated to have been first constructed in the 14th century, the temple complex houses 22 separate temples sitting at 3142 meters above sea level on the upper levels of Mount Agung - the "umbilical" of the Balinese cosmos.

Tana Toraja is located in the highlands of Central Sulawesi and home to the unique Torajan culture, widely thought to have descended from Indochinese tribes in the distant past. The Torajan people's tradition feature elaborate burial rituals involving animal sacrifice and entombment in specially made cliff side caves guarded by hand carved effigies of the deceased.

The United Nations have recently announced a new "sister site" program that will see Indonesia's Sangrian archaeological site twinned with another pre-historical site in Zhoukoudian, China. The program is designed to stimulate the exchange of expertise and experience between world heritage sites around the world.

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