Burma’s ancient city of Bagan offers unforgettable views, but visitors should remember to maintain a safe distance when visiting its temples.
Burma’s Ministry of Culture will soon be banning tourists from climbing Bagan’s ancient — and fragile — temples.
The temples and pagodas of Bagan are popular places for tourists to climb in order to get spectacular views, including of the hot air balloons that rise over the pagodas at sunrise. However, since the city hopes to become a World Heritage site by 2019, authorities are trying to keep damage of its ancient buildings to a minimum. So far, the city has been lingering on UNESCO’s tentative list.
According to The Independent, Bagan tried to impose a ban on climbing in February 2016 but quickly reversed the decision after some backlash. However, Burma’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is taking a keen interest in preserving the site. An actual date for when the ban will take effect has not been announced.
“They are very old monuments, and some could collapse at any time. Banning climbing is a necessary precaution to protect our cultural heritage,” said Thein Lwin, deputy director general of the Ministry’s Department of Archaeology, according to The Independent.
And hopefully the ban will keep tourists safe, too. Fragile structures could not only get damaged as time passes, but also pose a safety risk. Bagan is also located on a fault line and was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1975 and in 2016, so the renovations will help to protect from any preventable damage.
In lieu of the ban, the Burmese government is setting up “lookout points” on manmade hills in the area. Other upgrades to the area will include more effective security, improving access roads, and removing all billboards that block views of pagodas.
The view from the hills may turn out to be not quite as spectacular as from the pagodas, but it will help to protect a precious piece of history.