Reliving Orwell’s Burmese Days in Katha Township
AUNG PHAY KYI SOE 18 OCT 2019
Tourists at the entrance of the house where George Orwell lived in Katha Township . Photo – U Nyo Ko Naing
KATHA, Myanmar – The Katha Heritage Trust, a local non-government organisation, has successfully converted into a museum the house once lived in by famous British novelist George Orwell in Katha Township, Sagaing Region.
The two-story wooden house has been an attraction among western tourists, thus the association formally decided to convert it into a museum on September 20.
“We want to share our knowledge about George Orwell with visitors. It’s our main purpose in converting the house into a museum,” Katha Heritages Trust Secretary U Nyo Ko Naing told The Myanmar Times.
The museum features three portraits of Orwell, one painting of the house, and a large photo of Orwell in the upper floor of the house. Currently, the township police commander lives on the ground floor.
The Katha Heritage Trust will try to collect Orwell’s books and other mementos from when he lived in Sagaing in 1926 with the help of The Orwell Society from England. There are also plans to restore the layout of the house and the space where Orwell wrote his novels upstairs.
“We implemented this effort on our own initiative and nobody is supporting our efforts with the museum yet,” said U Nyo Ko Naing.
Orwell, whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair, lived in the house between 1926 and 1927 while serving as a colonial police officer.
The house was built in 1890 and was used as the headquarters of the superintendants of police. In this house, he wrote his famous novel Burmese Days while serving in Katha as a assistant superintendant of police. He returned to London in 1927.
Many tourists from around the world are interested in walking tours based on Burmese Days, the author’s famous book, in the old town.
There are currently 26 guide boards in colonial-era buildings, road signs and maps showing tourists sites managed by the Sagaing Region government and the Regional Hotels and Tourism Department for the convenience of the tourists.
“I’m so pleased to see Orwell’s house in Katha converted into a museum because it will develop tourism in the town,” said U Aung Thu Oo, head of the Sagaing Regional Hotels and Tourism Department said.
“Katha, one of the six tourism zones in Sagaing Region, has many colonial-era buildings which are attraction to international travelers and visitors,” he added.
The George Orwell Museum is situated on Lanmataw Road, in Ward 4 , Katha Township. The house has its columns with crossed wooden column footings freely placed on the brick posts, rather than bolted or spiked.
There are at least one dozen heritage buildings and two dozen historical sites and locations in Katha Township, and the town often sees up to 300 tourists from around the world every month.