Bagan Renovations Nearly Complete Following 2016 Earthquake

By Thazin Hlaing 19 April 2018

YANGON — The extensive renovation of quake-hit pagodas in Bagan is nearly 80 percent complete, according to the Bagan branch of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library.

“We had to perform emergency restoration in the first stage. The second stage is the renovation, which we have completed about 80 percent. Next, we will carry out work to keep them durable,” said director U Aung Aung Kyaw of the department branch.

Affected temples and pagodas are categorized into three priority levels depending on the severity of damage and the heritage value.

According to the department, 36 were on the list of top priority, 53 on the list of second priority, and 300 were third priority. Renovations have been carried out on 302 pagodas, 28 are undergoing renovations and 59 have yet to be repaired.

The department aims to complete renovation work by 2020, said chief engineer U Soe Soe Lin of the Bagan branch.

With technical assistance from UNESCO, the Association of Myanmar Architects, the Myanmar Engineering Society, seismologists, and technicians from technological universities have also joined the renovation work.

“Technicians from UNESCO have set up guidelines, and also provided technical advice,” he said.

Some 389 pagodas and temples out of a total of 3,252 in Bagan were damaged by the powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 24, 2016.

Bagan, the country’s major tourist attraction, is home to pagodas and temples dating from the 9th to the 13th centuries— a period in which some 50 Buddhist kings ruled the Pagan Dynasty.

Myanmar’s initial application for UNESCO recognition of Bagan as a World Heritage Site came in 1996, but it was rejected due to poor management plans and legal frameworks under previous governments.

However, UNESCO has accepted Bagan as a mixed cultural heritage zone, which means that there is no need to relocate villages, hotels or guesthouses in the area.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.