July 11, Colombo: The Archaeological Advisory Board has decided to temporarily close the historic Rangiri Dambulla Cave temple complex for both local and foreign tourists for conservation and preliminary testing.
The Archaeological Advisory Board met under the patronage of Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam on Monday to discuss the conservation of archaeological sites and conservation of temples projects launched by the Central Cultural Fund.
It was decided to accelerate the conservation of the Rangiri Dambulla world heritage as it is facing imminent deterioration, the Education Ministry statement said.
Accordingly, it was decided to systematically conserve each of the five major caves in the temple complex one by one according to their priority.
Lengthy discussion was held on the development and renovation of some archeologically important Vihara in Dambulla.
The advices and suggestions will also be sought from local and international intellectuals in this regard.
The board members also focused on the recommendations made by the International Council on Archeological Monuments and Places of Reference (ICOMOS) and UNESCO and the reports of Professor Werner Smith, a prominent international conservation expert on archeology, and the reports by the local archeological experts.
It has been suggested to take following steps during the period of conservation:
-Assign the Officers of the Department of Archeology and Central Cultural Fund full time for the conservation work of Dambulla cave temple
-Invite all conservation specialists who are specialized in conservation of frescoes and utilize their efforts
-Instruct the Central Cultural Fund to fix equipment to measure humidity at the Dambulla Vihara on a daily basis.
-Advise the Central Cultural Fund to install nets or other covers to prevent the entry of wasps and other insects into the caves
-Estimate the number of visitors that can be present in the caves at one time and install automatic gates to control people entering the caves
-Install a proper lighting system and CCTV cameras
The Central Cultural Fund has also agreed to bear the total cost of the conservation work, said the Ministry of Education.
The Archaeological Advisory Board also decided to allocate funds for other activities of the Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple from Central Cultural Fund money collected through the issuing of tickets.