Ba­gan tourism re­stricted

Af­ter last week’s earth­quake, the De­part­ment of Ar­chae­ol­ogy has es­ti­mated re­pair work will take one year to com­plete and pro­hib­ited vis­tors from en­ter­ing 33 pago­das, which are also off-lim­its for sun­rise and sun­set view­ings.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - EI EI THU eiei­thu@mm­times.com

AS the list of Ba­gan pago­das dam­aged by last week’s earth­quake con­tin­ues to grow, the De­part­ment of Ar­chae­ol­ogy, Na­tional Mu­seum and Li­brary said yes­ter­day that re­pair work would take at least one year to com­plete.

The 6.8-mag­ni­tude tremor, which struck on Au­gust 24, was cen­tred 25 kilo­me­tres (16 miles) west of Chauk in Magwe Re­gion.

U Thein Lwin, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the de­part­ment, told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day that vis­i­tors are pro­hib­ited from en­ter­ing 33 pago­das and are not al­lowed to climb to the up­per lev­els of those pago­das for sun­rise and sun­set view­ing.

“We have set the pro­hi­bi­tion pe­riod for one year. We will al­low vis­i­tors to enter and climb the pago­das again af­ter the ren­o­va­tion pe­riod,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Cul­ture and Reli­gious Af­fairs, the pro­hib­ited list in­cludes the pop­u­lar Py­athat­gyi, Sh­we­san­daw, Htilominlo and Su­la­mani pago­das. The in­ven­tory of dam­aged pago­das and tem­ples has also risen to 397 from last week’s count of 187.

The min­istry also re­leased a list of dam­aged pago­das in ar­eas out­side of Ba­gan, in­clud­ing 35 in Salay in Magwe Re­gion, five in Mrauk-U in Rakhine State and 13 in Sa­gaing Re­gion.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from lo­cal travel and tour com­pa­nies ex­pressed doubt that the tourism in­dus­try would be ad­versely af­fected by the earth­quake, with some even sug­gest­ing that the quake had boosted in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est in the an­cient pago­das. Pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw also said last week that there were plenty of un­dam­aged pago­das for tourists to see.

Daw Sabei Aung, manag­ing di­rec­tor of Na­ture Dreams travel and tours, said yes­ter­day that at least five of the pro­hib­ited pago­das were in­cluded on their tour pack­age list, but tourists have not com­plained about not be­ing able to go in­side.

“They un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion. We ar­range to visit vil­lages and of­fer other ser­vices in the Ba­gan re­gion, so the tourists have been sat­is­fied with our ser­vice,” she said.

Photo: Kaung Htet

Tourists pho­to­graph the quake-dam­aged Su­la­mani Pagoda in Ba­gan on Au­gust 25.

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