The main tourist destination in Myanmar is Bagan. capital of the first Myanmar Empire; one of the richest archaeological sites in South-east Asia. Situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyawaddy River. The Magic of Bagan has inspired visitors to Myanmar for nearly 1000 years. Bagan covers an area of 42sq.km containing over 2000 well-preserved pagodas and temples of the 11th-13th century. The town of Bagan (formerly spelled as "Pagan"). central Myanmar (Burma). situated on the left bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River and approximately 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Mandalay. The site of an old capital city of Myanmar. Pagan is a pilgrimage centre and contains ancient Buddhist shrines that have been restored and redecorated and are in current use. Ruins of other shrines and pagodas cover a wide area. An earthquake on July 8. 1975. severely damaged more than half of the important structures and irreparably destroyed many of them. The whole of the Buphaya Pagoda. for nine centuries a landmark for river-boatmen. tumbled into the Ayeyarwaddy and was carried off by the waters. The village also has a school for lacquerware. for which the region is noted.
Pagan's importance lies in its heritage rather than its present. It was first built probably in AD 849 and. from the 11th century to the end of the 13th. was the capital of a region roughly the size of modern Myanmar. In 1287 it was overrun by the Mongols during their wide-ranging conquests. and it never recovered its position. though a little desultory building continued on Buddhist shrines.
Old Pagan was a walled city. its western flank resting on the Ayeyarwaddy River. It was the focus of a network of high roads by means of which its rulers could command a large region of fertile plains and could dominate other major Myanmar dynastic cities. such as Pegu. From the port of Thiripyissaya. further down the river. important overseas trade was conducted with India. Ceylon. and other regions of Southeast Asia. The walls of the old city. within which lies a substantial area of the modern town. probably originally contained only royal. aristocratic. religious. and administrative buildings. The populace is thought to have lived outside in homes of light construction closely resembling those occupied by the present-day inhabitants.