One of the most remarkable sights in South East Asia, the magic of Bagan has inspired visitors to Myanmar for nearly 1,000 years. The kingdom of Bagan has existed since the 8th century, but it only rose to glory as capital of the First Kingdom of Myanmar in the early 11th century. Ancient chronicles state that there were once 4,446 temples over its wide plains but today only around 2,000 remain.
What to see in Bagan?
This pagoda, first build by King Anawrahta and completed by King Kyansittha in 1087, is the first gold covered monument in Myanmar, becoming the prototype for later pagodas. The images of so called Nat (spirit) can be found within its precincts. The pagoda festival is held annually in mid October – beginning of November.
Cruciform structure with several terraces leading to a small pagoda at the top, this magnificent temple is one of the most surviving masterpieces of Mon architecture. Allowing natural sunlight inside the pagoda, there are four standing Buddha statues interpreting the eighty reliefs depicting the life of Buddha from his birth to his enlightenment. The pagoda’s festival, which is a big event drawing many pilgrims from all over the country, is held annually in February depending on the solar calendar.
Being the tallest structure of Bagan, this white stucco temple stands over 66 meter. It was built by King Alaungsithu in mid 12th century. Thatbyinyu was named from the Omniscence of the Buddha, and the landscape around it is a classic of central Myanmar, growing hardy vegetation including tamarind, acacia and neem.
Famously haunted, this massive temple was built by King Narathu in AD 1167. Although the temple isn’t fully completed, its finest brickwork displays are worth a visit.
What to do in Bagan?
HORSE CART RIDE
One of the nicest ways to explore the temples
According to experienced balloon pilots, Bagan is one of them most magical places in the world to do this activity. Watching to the sunrise from the heights and above thousands of temples is something that you will not forget easily.
SUNSET FROM THE IRRAWADDY RIVER
A picture is worth a thousand words:
The most famous craftwork in Bagan is its lacquer work, majestic pieces of art which are still done following the old traditional way.
What to do in its surroundings?
Located 50 kilometres away from Bagan, Mount Popa, an extinct volcano with a temple on top of it, is one of the main pilgrimage destinations in Myanmar. Monkeys are the visitors’ perfect companion when climbing the stairs all the way to the top.
This colorful old religious center is located 15 km south of Bagan. In between visiting the numerous ancient monasteries decorated with beautiful wood carvings, this compact town also offers colonial buildings. As for art lovers, the Yoke-Sone Monastery houses an interesting museum. The Sarsana Yaungchi Monastery has a large collection of ancient Buddha portraits and antique cabinets adorned with gold and silver paintings which are filled with a collection of 18th-century Buddhist scriptures inscribed on local palm leaves.
This quiet and traditional country town is located on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy river, 25 km north of Bagan. Reportedly being known for tobacco trading, this thriving market town is popular for handmade traditional slippers.