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Historic Buddha carvings in dire need of restoration

The famous Akauktaung Buddha cliff carvings, which have overlooked the Irrawaddy River in Pegu Division for more than 150 years, are in dire need of restoration, according to the trustees of the popular pilgrimage and tourist site.

Noting that the stone-carved Buddha statues have been gradually deteriorating without maintenance or preservation efforts, Ye Myint Thein, a member of the Akauktaung trustee committee, said, “The site used to be known as the ‘One thousand Buddhas of Akauktaung’, but nowadays only around 370 remain. Some are in a decent condition but others have deteriorated too much.

“It is our desire to see this site conserved. Renovations are necessary.”

Trustee committee secretary Chit Ko Ko said a paved road is now being constructed for the convenience of visitors.

“We are currently building a visitor centre and laying a concrete road towards the waterfall along the way to the Pyinsawadi stupa,” he said.

Akauktaung means “Tax Mountain” and was so named as it was the point on the river where customs duties were collected from boatmen after the Second Anglo-Burmese War of 1852, which soon brought an end to Burma’s Konbaung Dynasty (1752– 1885).

Legend says that a boat of sailors were stranded close to the cliff and had to wait out a week-long storm of winds and whirlpools. The boatmen prayed for their lives and carved images of the Buddha into the rock while they endured the storm.