Temples of Bagan
Over 2,200 Buddhist ruins vie for attention in the fields of Myanmar’s ancient city of Bagan. Each seems to whisper secrets of its past, never revealing the full story. With scattered records and few definite answers, Bagan remains somewhat a mystery to historians and visitors alike. Out of this mystery emerges legends and folklore. Take for instance the Dhammayangyi Temple, the largest remaining temple in Bagan. It echoes a gruesome past. King Narathu built the temple to repent for murdering his father, brother and a wife. The legend is that Narathu's wickedness was so perpetual that he chopped off the hands of temple masons for faulty workmanship. Then there is Ananda Pahto, one of the largest and best preserved temples in Bagan. The story goes that King Kyanzittha was so inspired by the tale of eight monks meditating in the Himalayas that he built the temple to emulate the scale and coolness of the mountains. To this day, Ananda Pahto dominates the temple fields of Bagan. In 2011, The Archeological Survey of India pledged money to renovate and restore the Ananda Pahto. These legends are about just two of Bagan's myriad temples that lie densely packed along the banks of Myanmar's Irrawaddy River.
For more than 200 years leading to 1287, Burmese kings commissioned over 4,000 Buddhist temples around Bagan – a building fest triggered by the region’s shift from Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism to Theravada Buddhism. At its peak, Bagan was a vibrant religious and cultural center. The exact cause of Bagan’s decline is contested, but a combination of invasions and natural disasters (most recently a 6.5 Richter scale earthquake in 1975) compromised original structures and drastically reduced the population. Despite the physical damage, Bagan still holds the world's most concentrated area of Buddhist religious structures. In 1990, in an effort to convert the area to an archeological zone and tourist destination, the government relocated all remaining inhabitants of Bagan to New Bagan. However, Bagan continues to woo visitors with ruins yearning to share tales of the past.
Most of Bagan’s temple grounds are quiet and open for exploration. There are minimal barriers between visitors and the ancient ruins, particularly at the less visited temples. A handful of temples draw tour groups. The others are either completed deserted or guarded by a watchman who, if befriended, is happy to unlock the gates for a private tour. Those visitors who brave the dark staircases and are willing to wander through narrow passageways are often rewarded with intimate places to view the plains. Bagan seems to take on different personalities throughout the day. As the sun ascends, it reveals layers upon layers of temples, beginning in a pink hue at dawn and glowing red in the mid-day heat. Dusk casts a golden spell on the brick ruins.
Unlike ancient sites that have long been explored, Bagan is relatively new to mass tourism and it is still possible to visit the temples of Bagan at a leisurely pace. For a bird’s eye view of the region, go on a sunrise hot air balloon ride.
Where to Stay
When to Go
You may also like:
- No live matches are in progress.
- Upcoming matchvs. IREZIM1st ODIFri, Oct 09, 2015Harare, ZimbabweIreland in Zimbabwe ODI Se...
- vs. SAIND1st ODISun, Oct 11, 2015Sun, Oct 11, 2015Kanpur, IndiaSouth Africa in India ODI ...
- vs. IREZIM2nd ODISun, Oct 11, 2015Sun, Oct 11, 2015Harare, ZimbabweIreland in Zimbabwe ODI Se...
Latest Photo Albums
Match abandoned without a ball bowled at Eden Gardens on October 8, 2015 More » India vs South Africa, 3rd T20 International
Indian speedster Zaheer Khan was born on October 7, 1978. Having made his debut in the ICC Knockout Trophy in 2000, the left-armer has since swung his way to tremendous success. We take a look at some images from his … More » Happy Birthday, Zaheer Khan
The West Indian six-hitter turned 36 on September 21, 2015. A look at some images from his colourful, and highly successful, cricket career. More » Happy Birthday Chris Gayle
Action images from the 3rd Test at Sinhalese Sports Club played between August 28-September 1, 2015. More » Sri Lanka vs India, 3rd Test
Ishant Sharma became the eighth Indian bowler to claim 200 Test wickets during the third and final Test against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club on September 1, 2015. More » Ishant joins 200 Test wickets Club
Kumar Sangakkara retires with 12,400 Test runs and 14,234 ODI runs. Who leads the tables among active players now? More » Now That Sangakkara's Retired, These Are The Leading Run Scorers in The World
The Sri Lanka legend was snared by India's Ashwin for the fourth time in his final Test series. [Report] More » Here Are The Pics From Kumar Sangakkara's Final Test Innings
Action images from the England vs Australia Test match. More » Ashes, 5th Test at The Oval
Born on August 13 in Rawalpindi in 1975, and the rightful inheritor of a proud fast bowling legacy, his initiation into Test cricket was characteristically eye-catching, when he bowled Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar off successive yorkers in the Asian Test Championship.
A successful World … More » The Rawalpindi Express
Action images from Trent Bridge, Nottingham. More » 4th Ashes Test