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.