A delegation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will visit Myanmar in October to inspect three ancient cities near the historical city of Pyay which have been touted for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
The three cities are Hanlin, Vishnu and Sri Ksetra, all located in the country’s Sagaing division and were all cities of the Pyu Empire, which is thought to be one of the first kingdoms to rule the country.
“The UNESCO delegation will examine whether the cities are up to the required standards, what conditions they are in and if they have been looked after by the respective organisations. The interest of local social organisations, the measure of their cultural value for the local people and how they plan to impart the knowledge of these places for the next generation will also be scrutinised,” said U Win Kyaing, head of Archaeology Technology Academy.
Local residents said if the cities were recognised as World Heritage Sites more tourists would flow into the region which would see more local products produced and improve the local economy.
UNESCO aims to “encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world, for sites considered to be of outstanding value to humanity,” and provides funding so that sites can be helped to be maintained.
Notable UNESCO Heritage sites around the world include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Angkor temples of Cambodia and Indonesia’s Borobudur temple. If successful, the Pyu cities would be Myanmar’s first sites that qualify for UNESCO status.
In 1996, Myanmar nominated eight sites for UNESCO status, including Bagan, Inle Lake and Mrauk U but they all remain on the organisation’s “tentative” list, with Bagan in particular failing to make the list due to unauthentic restoration of some of the temples.