To help build capacity of the officials before the Cultural Heritage Bill is enacted, the officials of Department of Culture (DoC) on October 26 presented value assessment of the cultural landscape and rules and regulations developed for the sustenance of the sites.

In the two-day workshop titled ‘Cultural Landscape and Sustaining its Significance,’ a panel of international and national experts were present.

Value assessment included religious, historical and architectural features, which required site protection and plans for sustenance.

Architect with DoC, Jamyang Singye Namgyel, said that Gangtey valley in Wangdue was first developed by the first group of gomchens. “The settlement pattern of the village, the historical landmarks, the traditional drains and the land use pattern has enabled the survival and sustainable functioning of this system for more than 400 years.”

He added that the village also stands distinctively from its surrounding landscape.

Officials providing the management plan for Buli stated that Buli had a unique oral history about three brothers and the shifting of the existing lake in the village among others, which provided to the value addition of the village.

The discussion also highlighted the rules and regulations in the management plan to monitor the developmental activities.

Head of Conservation  of Heritage Sites Division,  Nagtsho Dorji said that although a certain lhakhang is protected, if the surrounding contradicts the lhakhang, the sense of sacredness would be lost. “Right now, the heritage buildings and other structures are almost the same across the country and it is nothing surprising.”

She added that it was the surrounding, environment, and the beliefs that are unique and have protected the country and people until today.

For Gangtey, the officials developed a building code under the rules and regulations of the management plan.

Jamyang Singye Namgyel said that the building codes developed were in accordance to the existing important features of the village such as roof style and alignment of the houses among others. “The building code is divided into rules that are mandatory and a set which are recommendations.”

He added that the rules for restoration and renovation of the old houses are to be implemented strictly as the houses in the village were a heritage.

Nagtsho Dorji said that the need for protection of the landscape heritage was realised while drafting the Bill. “We are not just talking about one or two lhakhangs, but about all the villages and entire landscapes that are a heritage and needs to be sustained.  Sustaining would mean providing guidance and managing the change that is needed in the village.”

The two-day workshop ended on October 26 with recommendations from the experts and architects.

Phurpa Lhamo