Two of the nine pagodas built by King Anawrahta on the Panlaung River in Kyaukse township during the Bagan period are in dire need of repair, a leading architect has told The Myanmar Times. Architect Tampawaddy U Win Maung said Magyitaw Shwegugyi Pagoda in Magyitaw village and Sawyel Shwegugyi Pagoda near Saw Yel village could soon be beyond repair unless urgent measures are taken. The Sawyel Shwegugyi should be given first priority, he said, as it still has original craftsmanship from the Bagan period. The pagoda, which is situated in a forest and is not well known, still has its original walls but 20 percent of the concrete floral designs on its roof have collapsed, he said. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the original designs are preserved rather than replaced.
The other pagoda, Magyitaw Shwegugyi, has suffered damage because the Panlaung River has eroded the riverbank on which it was built, U Win Maung said. He said that unless measures are taken to strengthen the bank, about half the pagoda will be lost into the river. There is always debate over how pagodas should be restored, U Win Maung said, and for the most part religious concerns have trumped preservation of original designs. “When repairing pagodas, people mostly consider it from a religious perspective. When the concrete is damaged, they never try to repair it – they just peel it off and put new concrete on. “This perspective focuses on renewal, while the cultural perspective is focused on preserving old things as they are. “Tamoat Shinbin Shwegugyi is the only one of the nine pagodas built by King Anawrahta in the Kyaukse area that has been maintained with a focus on preserving its original style.”