Bagan and Unesco

After the earthquake, Unesco came to Bagan in 1977 to lead the renovation. They stayed for 7 years until they had a falling out with the Generals. The Generals wanted to build new buildings to replace the old, while Unesco insisted that the old ones should be reconstructed. When the Generals went ahead with building new ones anyway, Unesco left. They have never been invited to return, the area is therefore not designated as a World Heritage site, and Mynamar gets no monetary help with the upkeep of this wonderful site. Now the Generals are building new stuppas everywhere. They find a footprint of an old stuppas or temple and build a new one on it, with no thought as to how the original looked. They just copy another one nearby. They use bricks and then put a concrete Buddha inside. These new stuppas stand glaringly apart from the old buildings, and no one pays them any attention.

Two hundred and twenty seven of the buildings have or had wall paintings inside. The vast majority have been lost, mainly due to erosion and to the effects of sunlight. But some buildings, which are darker inside, still have varying amounts of these paintings visible. We visit three of them that were restored by Unesco before they left, and are breathtaking. One is called the Cave because it so dark inside. It has many small chambers designed for novice monks to meditate in. All the walls and ceilings are hand painted and date back to the 13th century. Much of it has been lost, but there is still much to see and it is truly fascinating. We stay in the Cave for a long time studying the paintings, which were done by amateur painters, and represent their lives in the 13th century.

This entry was posted in Bagan, Caves, Stuppas, travel review, travelogue, Unesco. Bookmark the permalink.

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