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Myanmar to reopen some Bagan pagodas to climbing tourists

Ei EI THU The Myanmar Times Monday May 28, 2018

Some of the 3000 majestic pagodas in the ancient city of Bagan. Kaung Htet/The Myanmar Times

The authorities will permit a limited number of visitors to climb five pagodas in Bagan to view the sunrise and sunset starting in September, said U Aung Aung Kyaw, director of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum in Bagan.

“We have not decided yet how many people will be allowed to climb on the selected pagodas,” he said. “It will depend on the results of experts’ study of the strength of each pagoda that we selected for this year,” he said.

U Aung Aung Kyaw said Bagan authorities will select five pagodas with good structures and lesser heritage and architectural value from among the over 3000 ancient pagodas and temples at the historical site.

They will allow visitors to climb on five different pagodas every year so as not to put too much stress on these structures.

Bagan authorities called for a meeting next month of all stakeholders in Bagan tourism and an expert team to discuss details of the plan.

The result of the meeting will be reported to the Bagan Archaeological Management Committee, which is led by Mandalay Region Chief Minister U Aung Aung Kyaw.

“The final decision will be made by the committee,” he said.

In February, the committee banned climbing on all pagodas at the ancient site as a measure to preserve the structures and as it may be against the religious beliefs of the people.

However, many local vendors and shop owners were unhappy about the ban as it resulted in the decline of the number of tourists visiting the ancient site, thereby reducing their incomes.

Last month, the Nyaung-U district administrator appealed to the local development committee to reconsider the ban.

A fee can be collected from local and foreign visitors who want to climb the pagodas in order to pay for the maintenance of the pagodas, U Aung Aung Kyaw said.

UNESCO is conducting a year-long evaluation of the Bagan heritage area which has been proposed as a world heritage site, and the decision on whether to list it will be made next year.

From: THE MYANMAR TIMES (Myanmar) Monday May 28, 2018

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