Lake­side sun­set view­ing hill pro­posed in Ba­gan

The Myanmar Times - - News - MAUNG ZAW maungzaw@mm­

SUN­SET view­ings in Ba­gan are about to get a new van­tage point.

For years, tourists have been clam­ber­ing on top of the an­cient pago­das to catch the iconic sight, and the ac­tiv­ity is reg­u­larly in­cluded as a “must do” on Myan­mar tourism lists. But scur­ry­ing up the sides of the old relics can cause dam­age, Ja­panese In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (JICA) As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor U Han Nyunt said yes­ter­day. To lessen the bur­den on the pago­das, JICA is hop­ing to ar­range a view­ing area next to Ko Mount Lake.

“Ko Mount Lake is in the cen­tre of Ba­gan’s an­cient her­itage re­gion and it is very con­ve­nient for watch­ing the sun­sets,” U Han Nyunt said.

To bet­ter en­hance views from the lake, the bank, which now stands at 2 feet high, will be raised to 4 feet.

He added that al­low­ing tourists to clam­ber on top of the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites “is not good for the pago­das in long term”.

Res­i­dents, the re­gional gov­ern­ment and the An­cient Cul­ture Depart­ment are all com­ing around to the idea of di­rect­ing tourists to the lake in Ph­war Saw West vil­lage, he said.

Pre­vi­ous at­tempts to cur­tail pagoda sun­set view­ing raised ire in the tourism in­dus­try. In Fe­bru­ary, the Min­istry of Cul­ture banned pagod­abased sun­set view­ings af­ter a pri­vate com­pany had con­ducted a show on top of a mon­u­ment, which al­legedly re­flected poorly on Myan­mar’s her­itage. The pro­hi­bi­tion was rolled back amid out­rage from tourists and tourism op­er­a­tors.

The view­ing-area pro­posal has re­gain­ing trac­tion fol­low­ing the dam­age im­parted by last month’s earth­quake. Cen­tred in nearby Chauk town­ship, the 6.8-mag­ni­tude quake dam­aged nearly 400 pago­das. Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have es­ti­mated restora­tion work could take one year.

The pro­posal will be sub­mit­ted to the gov­ern­ment in the next month and, if per­mis­sion is granted, the project will be com­pleted in two months – be­fore the end of the year.

“So, next tourist sea­son, lo­cals and for­eign trav­ellers will be able to take in the view from the bank,” U Han Nyunt said.

Project ex­penses will be cov­ered by the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment.

“If we watch the sun­set from the bank, it pro­tects the strength of pago­das and pro­vides ad­van­tages for res­i­dents,” said U Aung Aung Kyaw, di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of Archaeology, Na­tional Mu­seum and Li­brary in Ba­gan. “The trav­ellers can buy hand­i­crafts from the res­i­dents. Mainly, we must keep the bank of the lake clean.” – Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han

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