Ananda Temple
Myanmar, Bagan

Ananda Temple is one of the most beautiful and revered in Bagan. Locals say that "if you did not see the temple of Anand - you were not in Bagan." The temple was built in 1091, during the reign of King Chianzitt. According to legend, the king assigned eight monks who arrived in Bagan from the Nandamula Cave Monastery in the Himalayas to build it. Chianzitta, having heard their stories about the grandeur of the monastery, decided to build a temple in Bagan that surpasses the Himalayan beauty and wealth. Seeing the completed Anand temple, Chianzitta was so impressed by its splendor that he “thanked” the construction monks royally - he ordered them executed to exclude the slightest possibility of rebuilding the temple in any place other than Bagan. The temple is located in the center of a spacious square square, in the plan it has the shape of a Greek cross with four entrances oriented to the cardinal points. The central part of the temple has the shape of a cube, it is crowned by a gilded shikhara (pyramidal spire), mounted on a square platform consisting of four terraces. Each of the four entrances is made in the form of porticoes, crowned with small stupas. The facade of the temple is richly decorated with stucco, stone carvings, sculptures of mythical animals, decorative relief ornaments, Buddha statues. The architecture of the temple harmoniously combines Mons and North Indian styles, it is called the "architectural miracle" and Westminster Abbey of Burma. The interior consists of three vaulted corridors (high, but narrow), running parallel to each other along the four sides of the temple. Corridors lead to the central hall, in which 9.5-meter-high wooden Buddha statues, covered with gold leaf, are installed in huge niches. Buddha is depicted in a state of nirvana, the statue of Buddha Kassapa is located in the southern part of the temple, Buddha Kakusanda in the north, in the east - the statue of Buddha Konagamanda, in the west - Buddha Gautama. The original are the statues of Buddha Kakusanda and Buddha Kassap, the other two were damaged by fire and were replaced with new ones in the XVIII century. The uniqueness of the statues is that depending on how far and from which side you look at them, it seems that the Buddha changes his expression. The walls of the corridors and terraces are decorated with rows of terracotta tiles with scenes from Jataka, frescoes depicted on them, many of which are well preserved to this day, stone Buddha images installed in special niches (about 1000 niches in total). In 1975, as a result of the earthquake, the Ananda Temple was significantly damaged, but was completely restored and is now in excellent condition. Every year, during the full moon of Pyahto (usually December or January), a festival is held at Ananda Temple, during which, for three days, about 1000 monks continuously “sing” the scriptures. During the festival, thousands of pilgrims from all over the country come to the temple.