‘Bagan wasn’t like this in 1995’, Buxton muttered as yet another huge tour group mowed him down, selfie sticks aloft. Back then, I had the ancient temples of the Kingdom of Bagan practically to myself. Now that Myanmar was firmly on the tourist circuit, we had to share this once forgotten archaeological wonder with thousands of others. I am convinced that there were more tourists climbing up the Shwesandaw Temple for sunset in 2016 than there were in all of Myanmar in January ’95!
Is it real?
The Burmese government has been renovating the temples for decades and as usual with Myanmar, this has attracted some controversy. In keeping with Buddhist traditions, it is considered disrespectful to leave temples and statues in a state of disrepair. However, most of the temples have been destroyed over the centuries by a series of devastating earthquakes and subsequent neglect. No one knows what the temples originally looked like so the Burmese have done their best to approximate their original state using the base and rubble as guides. This had led to conflict with world bodies such as UNESCO, who are loath to award World Heritage status to what amounts to modern recreations that … Read more