If you’re planning to go to Bagan in Myanmar to see the beautiful pagodas and the sunset and sunrise from the upper floors of the temples, you might get dissapointed. (Almost) all the stairs to the higher floors of the temples are closed. But why?
Preservation of the ancient pagodas
The Archaeological Management Committee of Bagan decided it was the best thing to do to preserve all the ancient pagodas. The earthquakes of 1975 and 2016 and the heavy rains of the previous years damaged a lot of the temples and their structure. Many of them have been restored over the previous years and some of them are still being renovated. But the committee decided it wouldn’t do any good to the structure if tourists were still aloud to climb the pagodas and closed them all.
As a second reason the committee also stated that climbing the pagodas would be against religious beliefs. But many locals doubt this. They say the stairs were built so people could climb the pagodas and go to the top. Not only foreigners climbed these temples, also the inhabitants of Myanmar did so they could admire the religious structure in all its glory.
Safety of tourists
The committee is also considering the safety of the people who climb the temples. It says that it is too dangerous and closing the entrances to the upper floors is in the best interest of all of us. Though it might be true that some pagodas aren’t safe enough to climb because of its damaged structure, locals say there are many pagodas that are strong enough and could be climbed without a problem, but the committee won’t take the time to investigate the temples to know which ones should be closed and which ones can still be open.
But an American tourist did die in November 2017 when she was admiring the sunset on one of the pagodas of Bagan and fell from the temple.
Although I can understand some of these reasons, I do find it a shame that they closed all the pagodas without any research or investigation. ‘Climbing’ the pagoda’s is a part of Bagan and even Myanmar, and not being able to admire the sunrise and sunset from these amazing constructions is a shame. Even the local people aren’t happy with the decision.
Reopening the closed temples
The committee is thinking to reopen a few temples. It considers a rotating system where maybe five temples will be open for a few months. When these months are over these temples will be closed again, but others will be opened so there wouldn’t be too much damage done to a few temples. But if and when it’s planning to do so is unclear.
The sunrise and sunset are beautiful, even watching them outside a pagoda. But… I did found a small pagoda where the stairs aren’t closed and you can admire the beautiful Bagan from the upper floor. Read this post to find out more about this temple and where you can find it.