Ananda Temple – The Legendary White-Snow Temple in Bagan
Ananda temple is a long-lasting and large religious monument. It is also known as the finest, largest, best preserved and most revered temples of Bagan. In spite of having existed in a long history, the temple architecture has been almost completely preserved. It is said to be an indispensable symbol for Bagan travel.
» Etymology of Ananda Temple
The name of the temple is originated from the Venerable Ananda, Buddha’s first cousin. It was once known as Ananta Temple, deriving from the phrase ‘ananta pinya’ in Sanskrit, which translates as “endless wisdom”.
» Ananda Temple is Associated to a Legendary Story
According to legend, in 11th century, 8 monks from India visited Bagan and were welcomed by King Kyansittha. They told about a legendary cave located on Himalaya Mountain with a prospect about a very beautiful temple in snow. King Kyansittha was so impressed by it that he commanded to build the Ananda temple, a model of “temple in snow” among the barren land like desert of ancient Bagan, in 1091.
» Hisotory of Ananda Temple
The history of this wonderful temple is considered to be made by King Kyanzittha. The time of building this temple is believed to begin during the building activity of the Pahothanya in 1080 AD. The King Kyanzittha wanted to established and convey his doctrine to his people in a vivid visual format through the various unique iconographic depictions which were shown in proportional layout of the Ananda temple. It is also said that the King who founded this temple became a famous Buddhist architect.
» Ananda Temple Was Built in a Combinative Structure
The structure of temple is affected by architectural style of Northern India and Mon people. This is one of few temples in bagan allowing women to get close with the Buddha statues and plate golden pattern onto. Nowadays, Ananda Temple is like a museum offering all art forms in Myanmar such as stone and grout architecture, stone carving, murals, glass, earthenware, wood carving, etc …
The structure of the temple is in the form of a simple corridor with the total length from end to end of about 290 feet (88 m). At the centre of the terraces, the main part of the temple is in cube-shape with four standing massive Buddha statues. The four entrances are provided with teak wood carved doors in the interior. The base, sides and terraces are decorated with terra cotta tiles.
The external walls of the temple are 39 feet (12 m) in height. Each corner has a ringed pagoda.
The four standing Buddhas (pictured) adorned with gold leaf have a specific name: Kassapa , Kakusandha, Konagamana and Gautama. All the four images are made of solid teak wood and placed in the sanctum, called the “Buddhas of the modern age. Each image has its own typical feature.
One of the special features of the temple complex is plaques which depict jataka tales. They are made of glazed terra-cotta tiles which present stories of the jataka. Each plaque related to a specific story from Jataka tales.
In Bagan architecture, the stone sculptures, in the outer vaulted corridors, are believed to be unique. There are 1500 stone images inside the temple which are carved from a single rock.
Wall paintings inside the the temple have been white washed. Some of the paintings have been restored while some of the paintings are still in good condition.
» Other Structures in Ananda Temple
Ananda Oakkyaung monastery is placed within the boundary of the Ananda Temple. It is built with red bricks with paintings of the 18th century.
The only surviving gate of the ancient Bagan city is Tharabha Gate located in the southeast of the Ananda temple.
A museum is located close to the Ananda temple and it is a field museum in order to study and preserve artifacts.
» Ananda Temple Festival
Ananda temple festival takes place annual week during the month of Pyahto.
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