The Most Significant Temples in Bagan, Myanmar

The Most Significant Temples in Bagan, Myanmar

Myanmar, Bagan
Bagan is an ancient city located in central Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), known for its incredible collection of Buddhist temples, pagodas and other religious buildings.

Bagan is an ancient city located in central Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), known for its incredible collection of Buddhist temples, pagodas and other religious buildings. The Bagan archaeological zone covers an area of ​​approximately 16 square miles and includes more than 2,000 temples and pagodas that date back to the 11th and 12th centuries.

Bagan's temples were built between the 11th and 13th centuries, when the area was the capital of an ancient kingdom. At the height of the kingdom's power, there were more than 10,000 temples and pagodas in the region, but many were destroyed by natural disasters and invasions over the centuries.

Bagan's temples were built of brick and stucco, with intricate carvings and detailed frescoes decorating the interiors. Temple designs vary from simple structures with little decoration to complex and ornate pagodas with thousands of varieties of intricate carvings and sculptures.

Some of the most famous temples in Bagan include Ananda Temple, Shwezigon Pagoda, Dhammayangyi Temple and Thatbyinnyu Temple. The Ananda Temple is one of the largest and best preserved temples in Bagan, with four standing Buddhas and impressive architectural features. Shwezigon Pagoda is one of the most revered temples in Bagan, with a stunning gilded stupa and impressive murals depicting the life of Buddha. The Dhammayangya Temple is one of the largest temples in Bagan, but it is also one of the most mysterious, and no one knows for sure who commissioned it or why. That Binnyu Temple is one of the tallest structures in Bagan and is decorated with intricate carvings and statues.

Visitors to Bagan can explore the temples and pagodas on foot, by bike or by electric scooter. Hot air balloon rides over the temples are also popular, especially during sunrise and sunset. Bagan is an important religious and cultural site in Myanmar and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.

Ananda Temple

The holiest and most important temple in Bagan contains four standing Buddhas facing the four cardinal directions. The Ananda Temple is called the "Westminster Abbey of Burma." A mixture of Mon and Indian architecture, it was originally built in 1105 AD and is one of four temples remaining in Old Bagan. The temple was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1975, but was restored with gilded spiers in 1990 in preparation for the 900th anniversary of its completion.
The name "Ananda" comes from the Pali word "anantapannya" meaning "limitless wisdom".
The Buddha statues are made of teak wood with gilding, and those facing north and south are considered original. Four Buddhas (from left to right):
Kakusandha – facing north
Konagamana - east side
Kassapa – south facing
Gautama - to the west

Shwezandaw Pagoda

One of the most popular places to watch the sunrise or sunset, this 5-story pagoda is located on the outskirts of Old Bagan and offers magnificent views of the plain. Originally built in 1057 AD by King Anavrata, the pagoda houses the hair of Gautama Buddha. Restoration work was carried out after damage caused by the 1975 earthquake.
Great care should be taken when climbing the very steep steps that line the walls of the building.

Shwezigon Pagoda

This stunning and photogenic gold leaf pagoda is located in Nyaung U town near the river and is said to house the tooth and bone of Gautama Buddha. Construction was started by King Anavrata in the 11th century and completed in 1102 AD by King Kyansittha. There are many interesting small temples and shrines around the main pagoda.

Thatbinyu Temple

The tallest temple in Bagan, reaching 61 meters (201 ft) in height and having a floor plan in the shape of an asymmetrical cross with gilded spiers rising from the corners of the terraces. It was built in the mid-12th century during the reign of King Alaungsitu and consists of two levels with a seated Buddha on the second floor. One of the four temples remaining in Old Bagan and located near the Ananda Temple.

Manuha Temple

This temple is named after its builder, King Mon Manuhi, who was held captive a couple of kilometers south of Bagan in Myinkaba. The temple is rectangular in shape, consists of two floors, with the top floor being smaller than the bottom, and contains three Buddhas sitting in awkwardly cramped positions, as well as an image of a smiling reclining Buddha entering nirvana, which is said to be created to highlight one's the king's discomfort at being a prisoner and that his only happiness will come only after his death. The temple is one of the oldest in the region, completed in 1067 AD, and although the 1975 earthquake damaged the roof and the largest seated Buddha, both shrines have been repaired.

Shwegugiy Temple

According to Pali inscriptions on stone slabs set in the interior walls, which detail the history of the temple, it was built in just seven months by King Alaungsitu in 1131 AD. With an image of a seated Buddha in a religious hall, surrounded by beautiful stucco work. The temple stands on a huge three-meter high red brick pedestal and is located near the Ananda Temple in Old Bagan.

Dhammayanga Temple

The largest temple in Bagan is located about a kilometer south of the Ananda Temple, near the Shwesandaw Pagoda. It was built by King Naratu, who came to power after the murder of his father and brother and reigned from 1167 to 1170 AD, and it is generally believed that he built this temple as atonement. Why the central part of the temple was walled up is unknown, but there is still access to four porches with Buddha images and an outer corridor.

Sulamani Temple

One of the most visited temples due to its excellent condition, large size and the fact that stairs lead to higher levels, offering magnificent panoramic views of the plain, especially at sunrise and sunset. Four Buddha images face outwards on four sides at ground level, and the interior has some of the best stucco decoration in Bagan. The temple was completed by King Narapati Situ in 1183 AD and restored to its present state in 1994 AD after being damaged in the 1975 earthquake.

Gubyaukgi Temple

Showcasing a fusion of Indian and Mon architecture, this interesting temple is located south of Bagan on the way to the Manukha Temple. It was built in 1113 AD by Prince Rajakumar after the death of his father, King Kyansitta. The temple is famous for its beautiful stucco work and 547 well-preserved paintings, each about forty centimeters in size, which tell the story of the previous lives of the Buddha, which wind around the temple in a clockwise direction.

Gavdavpalin Temple

This temple, one of the four remaining temples in Old Bagan, is located on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River and is the second tallest building in the area. It consists of two separate floors, the lower of which consists of three terraces and the upper of four terraces with a hollow religious hall. The temple was completed during the reign of King Htilominlo in 1227 AD and underwent major renovations after the 1975 earthquake.

Bupaya Stupa

The original Bupaya Stupa is believed to have been built in the 2nd or 3rd century AD and stood until the 1975 earthquake when it fell into the river and was destroyed. The current structure is a completely modern copy of the original's form. The new stupa was gilded and is still worth a visit, especially for its proximity to the Ayeyarwaddy River and its location in Old Bagan on a bend in the river where you can catch any breeze.

Source: visit-bagan

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