May 26, 2015

Bagan Temple Run Highlights

Rudyard Kipling got it right when he said that Burma (now Myanmar) is unlike any land you know about. I haven’t even seen the rest of Myanmar (yet) but standing on top of Shwesandaw Pagoda in Bagan, I can’t help but nod in agreement.

Bagan has the most stunning landscape.  It is an ancient city in the middle of Myanmar and has the largest concentration of Buddhist temples, stupas and pagodas in the world. Once there were over 13,000 of them, now only 2000 (more or less) remain, still remarkably immense.

While it’s highly unlikely that we visit all temples in the 3 days that we were there, here are a few that stood out for us:

Shwesandaw Paya
Built in 1057 by King Anawrahta to enshrine a hair relic of the Buddha and one of the taller pagodas in Bagan with 5 levels or terraces, efinitely not for those with the fear of heights.  It offers a great unobstructed view of the horizon which makes it a good sunset and sunrise spot.    

Location: Nyaung-U

Largest and widest temple in all of Bagan and a rather controversial one.  It was said to be built as atonement for his sins by King Narathu who came to throne by assassinating his own father and brother.  During his short reign he executed one of his wives, an Indian Princess for practicing Hindu rituals which led to his own assassination and was unable to finish construction of the temple.  

Location: Nyaung-U

This temple is hard to miss as it is 46 meters high.  Inside the 3-storey temple are 4 large Buddhas on the lower and upper floor, only the lower floors are accessible to visitors though.  

Location: Nyaung-U

Known as the "Crowning Jewel" it's brickwork is considered to be the best in Bagan.

Location: Nyaung-U

Considered to be the finest temple with Mon (administrative division in Myanmar) architecture in Bagan. It was badly damaged during an earthquake in 1975 but it is now fully restored and well maintained. 

Location: Old Bagan, Southeast of Tharabar Gate

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