One of the most famous archeological sites in Southeast Asia, comparable to Angkor in Cambodia. It is located on the east bank of a bend in the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River in Mandalay Division. The Pagan region is bounded on the northeast by the village of Nyaung-U and on the south by Pagan New Town (Bagan Myothit). Over 2,000 pagodas, temples (pahto), umin (temples built to resemble caves), and other religious buildings, erected mostly during the Pagan (Bagan) Dynasty between the 11th and 13th centuries, are found within a 41-square-kilometer (16-squaremile) area, along with a roughly equal number of unexcavated and unidentified mounds. Most of the pagodas and temples are built of brick. Wooden buildings of the old palace of the Pagan kings, on the banks of the Irrawaddy, no longer exist.
   The most notable monuments include the Shwezigon and Shwesandaw Pagodas and the Manuha, Ananda, Dhammyangyi, and Thatbyinnyu Temples. Over the centuries, the Burmese kept many of these monuments in good repair. Modern archeological investigation began in the British colonial era. Gordon H. Luce did extensive research and writing on Pagan, as did the Burmese scholar Dr. Than Tun.
   An earthquake in 1975 damaged many of the monuments, but they were largely restored with the assistance of UNESCO, which has designated Pagan a World Heritage Site. The post-1988 military government has carried out ambitious alterations of many of the temples since the mid-1990s, which have been criticized for being unfaithful to their original design. Also criticized is a 60-meter (200-foot) concrete viewing tower, completed in 2005, which is seen as an eyesore by locals and foreigners alike. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) regards Pagan as a major center for international tourism, an important source of foreign exchange. According to journalistic reports, the SPDC has allowed the construction of a large hotel in the area.
   Pagan has long been a center for the production of high-quality lacquerware. In 1990, the government forced residents of the old village of Pagan, located among the monuments, to relocate to open fields, now known as Pagan New Town, causing them considerable hardship.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.


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