Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Bagan
To some extent, Bagan can be considered to be a hallowed ground of Myanmar since there are many temples and pagodas situtated here. Each temple or pagoda has its own story, though some stories here might not be similar to what we expect. Still, a place like this is always intruiging to whom interested in spiritual and culture aspect of Myanmar. And so here we are: Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Bagan.
* In terminology, “Pahto” means “temple” while “Paya” means “pagoda”.
1. Ananda Pahto
Ananda Pahto is believed to be built around 1090s during the reign of King Kyanzittha, and it needed to be restored during 1975 due to an earthquake. The temple is 170 feet-tall and it is considered to be the most well.preserved ancient temples in Bagan. What makes Ananda Temple so attractive not only because of its fame, but also its spiritual aspect. Inside Ananda Temple lies four 31 feet-tall statues of Buddhas who have ascended to the state of Nirvana, each faces at a different direction: Kassapa Buddha (South), Kakusandha Buddha (North), Konagamana Buddha (East) and Gautama Buddha (West). Of course, tour guide will gladely tell you the detail stories if you wish to know more.
2. Shwesandaw Paya
Shwesandaw Paya is a 328 feet.tall pagoda which is said to be built in 1057 by the King Anawrahta who founded the Bagan Kingdom. The story told that king Anawrahta invaded the Mon Kingdom of Thaton and he succeeded. He then brought the hair relics of Buddha and enshrined it in Shwesandaw Paya, hence the name “Shwesandaw” which means “golden holy hair”. The pagoda has a shape somewhat similar to pyramid with the bell shaped “stupa” on top. It is recommended to come here during the early morning since it has one of the best view spot in Bagan, excellent for photograph oppurtunity.
3. Thatbyinnyu Pahto
Thatbyinnyu Pahto is believed to be built around 1144 by King Alaungsithu. It is the tallest temple of all Bagan with 61 meters height. The special thing about this temple lies in its name itself: “Thatbyinnyu” which is Myanmar language for the word “omniscience”. Unlike predecessors temples built with one storey, Thatbyinnyu Temple was the one of the first temple to have two storey structure which formed the architectural foundation for later temples such as Sulamani, Gawdawpalin and Htilominlo temple (all have multi-storey structures). Also, another special trait about this temple is that it is one of the perfect place to see the original Myanmar architural and cultural styles.
4. Sulamani Pahto
Sulamani Temple, also known as “crowned jewel” or “small ruby”, is said to be built in 1181 by King Narapatisithu. Many people also thought of this temple to be somewhat more sophisticated than Htilominlo and Gawdawpalin temple. The story told that king Narapatisithu found a small ruby on the very ground that later on Sulamani Temple was built, hence the name “small ruby”. The temple also has pyramid.like structure with splendid architectures and ornaments.
5. Dhammayangyi Pahto
According to people’s belief, Dhammayangyi Temple is considered to be one of the four great Bagan monuments, alongside with Shwezigon Pagoda, Ananda Temple and Thatbyinnyu Temple. Dhammayangyi Temple said to be built as the atonement for King Narathu’s sin, which is also a tragic story. It is said that King Narathu killed his father in order to succeed the throne, then he killed his brother and even order execution one of his wives for her Hindu ritual conduction. The executed queen was an Indian princess. And so it is speculated that king Narathu was assasinated by eight man disguised as Brahmin priests under the order of the executed queen’s father (this explains the name Kalagya Min, means the “the king killed by the Indians”). To this day, some locals still think that this temple is haunted due to the sins of King Narathu.
6. Shwezigon Paya
Shwezigon Pagoda was first built by King Anawratha during the mid 11th century. However it was only finished until the reign of King Kyanzittha in late 11th century. Shwezigon Paya is told to be oldest “stupa” and its architecture has become the inspiration for later “stupas” (typically the “golden bell of Shwezigon” aspect which later on can be seen in most “stupas”). What interesting about Shwezigon Pagoda are its plaques which demonstrate previous lives of Buddha. However, these aspects alone are not the only reasons for Shwezigon Paya’s popularity, the pagoda is also famous for its 37 pre-Buddihsm nat statues (Nat can be explained as ancestor spirits of Myanmar people, are one of the important part of ancient Burmese religion before the arrival of Buddhism).
7. Bagan Archaeological Museum
Bagan Archaeological Museum was first built in 1902 and opened in 1904, later on after several changes and renovations, it was officially opened in 1998. For those who interested in the history of Old Bagan, this museum is an appropriate place to learn. Here lies many pieces and relics of Bagan, from reclining buddhas, statues to inscribed stone, and more… There are also model of 11th century village, and other major temples.
8. Gawdawpalin Pahto
Gawdawpalin Pahto is one of the grandest temples in Bagan, first built by the King Narapatisithu, later on completed by his successor, Htilominlo. This is a two-storey temple with 55 meters height, though the temple’s scale are pretty impressive compared to the others, its architectural style is not truly inspiring. That being said, Gawdawpalin Temple has a really inspiring story. It is told that during King Narapatisithu’s reign, the king’s pride was too great that he grown ignorant. He thought of himself to have more power and achievements on par with ancestors, or even surpass them. For this very reason, he was blind as a punishment. This punishment was only lifted after he atoned and paid respect to his forebears.
9. Htilominlo Pahto
Htilominlo Pahto is a 46 meters-height temple which has similar architectural style to Sulamani Pahto. It was built by the King Htilominlo, also known as Nadaungmyar or Zeya Theinkha. According to the old story, during the time King Narapatisithu needed a successor, his five sons stood in a circle surround a white umbrella in the center. Who was pointed by the umbrella will be chosen as the successor and at the time, Htilominlo was chosen and became the next king. The temple was built upon the spot where King Htilominlo was chosen and probably this is the reason why the temple shares the name of the succeeded king. On the outside, the temple has the carving of mystical creatures like ogresses, Makara sea creatures. Inside visitors will be able to see four great Buddha images located in each side of the temple.
10. Seinnyet Nyima Paya & Seinnyet Ama Pahto
Seinnyet Nyima Paya & Seinnyet Ama Pahto (some call as Seinnyet Sister Temples) are quite interesting since they are two temples stand together, said to be built by Seinnyet Queen sisters: Seinnyet Ama (as the “Elder Sister”) is a temple, while Seinnyet Nyima (as the “Younger Sister”) is a pagoda, both are believed to be built in 11th century AD. The temple has four entrances with the spire on top the terraces, ornamented with decorative scrolls. Ogre-heads, mythical bird and animal figures. On the other hand, the pagoda is a three-terrace stupa with the bell shaped top, ornamented with moulded bands and orge-head pendants.
- Source: Bagan Travel
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