MyanmarAuthorities may soon allow visitors to scale some of its ancient structures.

Another U-turn? Bagan authorities reconsidering ban on pagoda access

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Bagan may soon allow visitors to scale some of its ancient structures.
Bagan may soon allow visitors to scale some of its ancient structures. Photo Credit: Soft_Light/Getty Images

Last July, the Bagan government had banned visitors from scaling its pagodas after earlier deciding in February to allow tourists to ascend its five largest pagodas.

In Myanmar, Bagan authorities are in discussion with local community leaders to once again allow visitors to climb on some pagodas, a member of a local heritage organisation said on Tuesday (April 24). 

Last July, the Bagan government had banned visitors from scaling its pagodas after earlier deciding in February to allow tourists to ascend its five largest pagodas.

“The Nyaung-U district administrator phoned me yesterday and said they are prepared to again allow people to climb on some pagodas,” U Naing Tun, a member of a local development committee for ancient heritage implementation, told The Myanmar Times on Monday. 

“He asked us when is the best time to reopen (some of the pagodas to the public),” U Naing Tun said.

The committee met with local people, including vendors, shop owners and the Myanmar Archaeology Association, on Monday to discuss the issue, he said. 

Local businesses have voiced their displeasure on the ban on climbing pagodas and temples, citing the loss of their daily income contributed through tourism. 

“They are sure to lift the ban on climbing at some pagodas and temples. We requested to reopen about 16 pagodas and temples that are strong enough for climbers, but we don’t know yet how many will open to the public,” U Naing Tun said. 

The committee sent a petition to the government to allow climbing on a few pagodas with strong structures soon after the ban took effect in Bagan. 

But U Aung Aung Kyaw, a director of the Department of Archeology and National Museum, said the plan to lift the ban has not yet been discussed with the department and that it had not “received any directive concerning the resumption of climbing on pagodas”.

U Aung Aung Kyaw said that if the ministry decides to re-allow climbing, it should choose the stronger pagodas and those that have less historical and archaeological value. 

UNESCO is currently conducting a year-long inspection of the proposed Bagan heritage area and the decision on whether to list it as a world heritage site will be made next year, according to Bagan officials.


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