Myanmar wants Bagan listed as World Heritage site

Myanmar wants Bagan listed as World Heritage site

Preparations are underway to add the ancient temples and pagodas of Bagan to Unesco's World Heritage List, after three ancient Pyu cities became the first sites in Myanmar to join the list in June, Deputy Minister of Culture said Sandar Khin told the Upper House on Oct 30.

"Bagan cultural region is now being prepared for entry on the World Heritage List," she said, adding the process was laborious.

"There are so many rules for this," she said, explaining that these included administrative issues, border delineation and preservation.

Activities have to be taken before application and more work done after a site is included on the list, Sandar Khin said.

Bagan is located on a low-lying area along the Ayeyawady River in Mandalay. It comprises more than 2,200 temples and pagodas.

Bagan kingdom flourished between the 9th and 13th centuries and was the first to unify the regions that have become modern Myanmar. The area is one of Myanmar's main tourist attractions.

Sandar Khin made the announcement in response to questions from Major Myo Htun Aung about plans for including other cultural and historically significant sites in Myanmar on the World Heritage List.

Eight sites were submitted for the list in 1996, but shortcomings in the then-junta's applications have been blamed for the failure to have them included.

Once on the list, the more technical and financial assistance can be received to help preserve the sites, and the listings also help promote the sites as tourism attractions.

Myo Htun Aung noted that Myanmar was rich in cultural heritage.

He named seven beside the three ancient Pyu cities already on the list - Myauk-U, Pa-Da-Lin cave, Inle Lake, Min-Kun region, Mandalay, Innwa and Hantharwaddy. There are many more, the major said.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), the process to nominate Bagan to its World Heritage List began with an international consultation meeting in Bagan during Oct 10-12.

"The ancient archaeological site is at the top of the country's priority list for future World Heritage nominations. The meeting will bring together experts from around the world to discuss the future safeguarding of Bagan under the World Heritage framework with national and local stakeholders.

These inputs will be particularly timely in the face of accelerated development at the site caused by a boom in visitor arrivals and tourism-related investment," Unesco said in a statement.

Bagan houses the spectacular 11th to 13th-century ruins of more than 3,000 Buddhist temples and monuments spread over an 80 square km plain in central Myanmar. Myanmar nominated Bagan to the World Heritage Committee in 1996, but the submission process, which usually takes years, ran into problems with Myanmar's ruling junta.

Instead of getting the prestigious listing for Bagan, Myanmar succeeded in winning the first World Heritage listing for Pyu ancient cities in June this year.

Three ancient Pyu cities - Halin, Beikthano and Sri Khsetra - were added to the World Heritage List in June. The Pyu kingdoms flourished for more than 1,000 years, between 200 BC and AD 900.

The three cities are partially excavated archaeological sites.

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