Proposing Parakrama Samudraya as a World Heritage Site
The International Tourist Guide Day was celebrated at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourist Guide Lecturers (SLINTGL) with an event centred around the proposal to have Parakrama Samudraya declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ingenious reservoir, considered the apex of Sri Lanka’s ancient irrigation system, was built in the 12th century CE in the then capital city of Polonnaruwa, located in north-central Sri Lanka.
Invitees to the Head Table:
President of SLINTGL – Dr. Mahesh Priyadarshana
President of Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) – Mr. Maheen Kariyawasan
Asst. Secretary General of UNA – Dr. Kamal Abeywardane
Director HR, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) – Mr. Mihira Liyanarachchi
Board Director, SLTDA – Mr.Thilak Weerasinghe
Director General, Central Cultural Fund (CCF) – Prof. Gamini Adikari
Students from University college Anuradhapura, Hiking and Trekking team, Officers from the Department of Archaeology, President of the Chauffeur Guide Association and 46 NTGLs.
Moment of Appreciation.
Theme Song of the SLINTGL.
Lighting the Oil Lamp.
Mr. Dodangoda invited the President of SLINTGL Dr. Mahesh Priyadarshana for welcome Speech and introduction of WTGD.
Speech by Treasurer of SLINTGL, Mr. Priyalal Malevirachchi.
Message of Chairperson of SLTDA by Director HR, Mr.Mihira Liyanarachchi.
Speech by President of SLAITO, Mr. Maheen Kariyawasam.
“Evolution of Water Management System from “Wapi” to “Samudra”, Mr. Indika Manawadu.
“Why Parakrama Samudra has to be declared as a World Heritage Site” by Mr. Sunil Gunathilake.
“Socio economic benefits of declaring Parakrama Samudraya as a World Heritage Site” Ms. Sasankaa Gunathilke.
Conclusion speech by Director General of CCF, Prof. Gamini Adikari.
Vote of Thanks by Treasurer of SLINTGL, Mr. Priyalal Maleviarachchi.
The Director General of the Central Cultural Fund promised to organize meetings at SLINTGL with the officials of the World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka for building up the mutual understanding between both parties.
The program ended successfully, commemorating the ITGD 2020 and proposing Parakrama Samudraya as a World Heritage Site. The request was handed over to the Director General of CCF and to the Asst. Secretary General of UNA, who are on the accreditation board of UNESCO.
Parakrama Samudra and its unique water management system as a solution for impacts of global warming. Let’s make it a World Heritage Site.
Theme for ITGD
2020- Tourist Guides: Contributors to Sustainable Tourism & Jobs
History of water management in Sri Lanka goes back to
8th century BC where primitive micro irrigation system appeared for the first
time. The first technically feasible tank was built by king Pandukaabhaya in
4th century BC and it is called as Abhaya wewa or Basawakkulama.
Building large sized
reservoirs had been started in the 1st century B.C. during the reign of King
Wasabha (67 – 111 BC). He has built 11 large reservoirs and two irrigation
canals. It was followed by many small and medium size tanks that built all over
the island. By the 3rd century, King Mahasen built 16 large reservoirs
including Minneriya,Kaudulla ,Kanthale, Nachchiduwa and Mahakanadharawewa in Anuradhapura. These huge reservoirs were
supported with a complex network of river diversions and miles long man-made
Kalawewa was built during the reign of king Dhathusena
in 5th century and the tradition of building lakes and water management
continued to the Polonnaruwa period where it reached to its climax.
During the Anuradhapura period, the lakes were built
based on the concept of “wapi” where the sole purpose of the lakes were to
provide water for the agriculture. The lakes became more sophisticated in
technology in the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great and the concept of
“Samudra” s evolved. A “Samudra” was versatile in contributing to the
protection of the capital of the kingdom, and most importantly to maintain the
water table at a higher level which enable the development of a self-sufficient
economy in ancient Sri Lanka. Simply, the Samudra concept was the unseen
foundation of the “granary and greenery of East”.
An awareness discussion on the menace of unauthorised guiding services was held at the Sri Lanka Institute of National Tourist Guide Lecturers (SLINTGL) on 02nd January 2020. Mrs. Kimarli Fernando (new Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority – SLTDA), Mrs. Chandani Werapitiya (new Director General of SLTDA), Mr. Upali Ratnayake (former Director General of SLTDA), Mr. Dhammika Kasthurimudali (Chief of the SLTDA Investigation Unit), Mr. Prabath Vidanagama (Officer in Charge of Tourist Police) and members of SLINTGL took part in the discussion.
Dr. Mahesh Priyadarshana, President of SLINTGL, started off the proceedings with a presentation on the history of SLINTGL and the current problems faced by its members, who are National Tourist Guide Lecturers, or NTGLs – the highest category of tour guides in the country, licensed by SLTDA to operate on an island-wide basis. Dr. Priyadarshana pointed out how the in-depth training received by NTGLs and the ongoing skills-development efforts of SLINTGL to further uplift the standards of its members are being undermined by unauthorised guiding services being offered in various parts of the country. During the question-and-answer session that followed, some members drew the attention of the authorities to how the image of the country is being tarnished by the misinformation provided by untrained foreigners who happen to guide certain tour groups.
The officials gave a keen ear to the grievances aired by the members of SLINTGL and promised to continue the dialogue with SLINTGL in the future formulation and implementation of regulations. The Chairperson explained how she intends to take positive measures to open up new vistas in the tourism industry, in keeping with the vision of the new administration of the country. The former and new DGs presented their intended plans of action meant for the betterment of the industry. The law-enforcement officials clarified the legal aspects of undesirable practices like illegal guiding and suggested a joint action plan to tackle such cases.
SLINTGL hopes that the new rapport with the authorities will lead to better co-operation, which will enable us to find common ground in the interest of the tourism industry.
A delegation of top ranking officials of SLINTGL had a fruitful discussion with the SLTDA Chairperson on 27th December 2019. Main topic of discussion was our position on unauthorized tour guiding. As a result, a written assurance was given to us, that our concerns will be addressed with a high priority. A meeting between the general membership and the SLINTGL officials will be arranged shortly, to discuss the issue further in detail.
Lesser Known Colombo, a three-day workshop about a novel way to discover the city based on a treasure hunt, was held for a limited number of SLINTGL members at Goethe-Institut Sri Lanka on 10th, 11th & 12th Dec 2019.
On the first day, Prof. Asoka Mendis de Zoysa and Capt. Sadath Rajapakse introduced the concept of a treasure hunt to the participants. After spending the second day in the field discovering hidden aspects of Colombo in a real treasure hunt, on the final day the participants did their presentations on the experiences and insights they had gained. Mr. Rakitha Karunaratne, Head of Language Department at the Goethe-Institut Sri Lanka, and other members of the staff there played a major role in the organisation of the event.
Going by the response from the participants and organisers, it was a resounding success. We hope to have more workshops like this in the future.