The former Kingdom of Pagan in Myanmar

Wednesday, 24 October 2012 - 01:36 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Balloon over Bagan © flickr.com - nitsuga

Balloon over Bagan © flickr.com – nitsuga

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma (Myanmar). From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

Bagan, located in an active earthquake zone, had suffered from many earthquakes over the ages, with over 400 recorded earthquakes between 1904 and 1975. The last major earthquake came on 8 July 1975, reaching 8 MM in Bagan and Myinkaba, and 7 MM in Nyaung-U. The quake damaged many temples, in many cases, such as the Bupaya, severely and irreparably. Today, 2229 temples and pagodas remain.

Ruins of Bagan © flickr.com - Nicholas Kenrick Market Caravan © Kate Fitzgerald © flickr.com - lacest20 Dhamma-Yazaka Pagoda © Hybernator Bagan Plains at Sunset © Hybernator Balloon over Bagan © flickr.com - nitsuga
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Ruins of Bagan © flickr.com - Nicholas Kenrick
Many of these damaged pagodas underwent restorations in the 1990s by the military government, which sought to make Bagan an international tourist destination. However, the restoration efforts instead drew widespread condemnation from art historians and preservationists worldwide. Critics are aghast that the restorations paid little attention to original architectural styles, and used modern materials, and that the government has also established a golf course, a paved highway, and built a 61-meter (200-foot) watchtower. Although the government believed that the ancient capital’s hundreds of (unrestored) temples and large corpus of stone inscriptions were more than sufficient to win the designation of UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city has not been so designated, allegedly mainly on account of the restorations.

Bagan today is a main tourist destination in the country’s nascent tourism industry, which has long been the target of various boycott campaigns. The majority of over 300,000 international tourists to the country in 2011 are believed to have also visited Bagan. Several Burmese publications note that the city’s small tourism infrastructure will have to expand rapidly even to meet a modest pickup in tourism in the following years.

Read more on Air Bagan, Wikitravel Bagan and Wikipedia Bagan (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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