Top 10 Places in Bagan

Here is our Top 10 Places in Bagan :

1. Tharabar Gate

Tharabar Gate is the main gateway to the ancient Bagan city. It is the eastern gate of the old wall. It is now the only structure left of the old city built by King Pyinbya. It was built in 849 A.D during the 9th century. The western and northern part of the city wall were washed away by the river. There was originally twelve gates during that time. Tharabar is derived from the Pali term "Sarabhanga" meaning "shielded against arrows".

Although most of the structure is ruined. stucco carvings of the ogres can still be found. The gate is known to be guarded by spiritual beings. On the left is the side of the gate is the brother "Lord of the Great Mountain" and on the right side is the sister "Golden face".

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2. Ananda Temple

Ananda Temple is one of the four main temples remaining in Bagan. Ananda temple is considered to be one of the most surviving masterpiece of the Mon architecture. Also known as the finest. largest. best preserved and most revered of the Bagan temples. During the 1975 earthquake. Ananda suffered considerable damage but has been totally restored.

It is said to have been built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha. this perfectly proportioned temple heralds the stylistic end of the Early Bagan period and the beginning of the Middle period. In 1990. on the 900th anniversary of the temple's construction. the temple spires were gilded. The remainder of the temple exterior is whitewashed from time to time.

There is a legend saying that there were 8 monks who arrived one day to the palace begging for alms. They told the king that once. they had lived in the Nandamula Cave temple in the Himalayas. The King was fascinated by the tales and invited the monks to return to his palace. The monks with their meditative powers they showed the king the mythical landscape of the place they have been. King Kyanzittha was overwhelmed by the sight and had a desire for building a temple which would be cool inside in the middle of the Bagan plains. After the construction of the temple. the king executed the architects just to make the style of the temple so unique.

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3. Bu Pagoda

The legend says. the third king of Bagan. Pyusawhti (AD 162-243). got rid of the gourd-like climbing plant "bu" that infested the riverbanks. before becoming the king. He was rewarded by his predecessor. Thamuddarit. the founder of Bagan (AD 108) together with the hand of his daughter and the heir to the throne of Bagan. He then in the commemoration of his good luck built a gourd-shaped pagoda on the bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River.

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4. Shwesantaw Pagoda

King Anawrahta built Shwesandaw Pagoda after his conquest of Thaton in 1057. This graceful circular pagoda was constructed at the centre of his newly empowered kingdom. The pagoda was also known as Ganesh or Mahapeine after the elephant-headed Hindu god whose images once stood at the corners of the five successive terraces.

The five terraces once bore terracotta plaques showing scenes from the jalakas. but traces of these. and of other sculptures. were covered by lather heavy-handed renovations.

The pagoda's bell rises from two octagonal bases which top the five square terraces. This was the first monument in Bagan to feature stairways leading from the square bottom terraces to the round base of the pagoda itself. This pagoda supposedly enshrines a Buddha hair relic brought back from Thaton.

There are image housing at four sides. In them are hard stone images of Buddha in the posture of Jhana mudra. the intense concentration of mind posture. On the palms and soles of the images were incised eight petal lotus flowers. Below these images are stone slabs with grooves to let water go out. It is therefore assumed that lustral water was poured on these images.

The hti. which was toppled by the earthquake. can still be seen lying on the far side of the pagoda compound. A new one was fitted soon after tie quake. The Shwe Sandaw Pagoda was renovated as needed by the trustees of the Paogda with the help of the doners. So it now look likes a modern structure. During renovation 50 bronze statues of Buddha were discovered near Shwe Sandaw forest monk's monastery. These statues are exhibited at Archeological Museum.

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5. Shwezigon Pagoda

Shwezigon is one monument among the four main significant buildings of Bagan. Shwezigon was built as the most important reliquary shrine in Bagan. a centre of prayer and reflection for the new Theravada faith King Anawarahta had established in Bagan. The pagoda is standing between the village of Wetkyi-in and Nyaung U. It is a beautiful pagoda and was commenced by King Anawrahta but not completed until the reign of King Kyanzittha (1084-1113). King Kyanzittha was thought to have built his palace nearby.

It was known that. the Shwezigon was built to enshrine one of the four replicas of the Buddha tooth in Kandy. Sri Lanka. and it was to mark the northern edge of the city. The other three tooth replicas were enshrined in other three more pagodas. The second tooth replica went to Lawkananda Pagoda. a smaller pagoda to the south end of the city. Then the third replica went to Tan Kyi Taung (Tant Kyi Hill) Pagoda. a pagoda on the western bank of the Ayeyarwady River. The last one was enshrined into Tu Yuan Taung (Tu Yuan Hill). a pagoda on the summit of a hill 32 km to the east.

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6. Manuga Temple

The Manuha temple is on the right side of the main road going south from Bagan. and right in Myinkaba village. King Manuha's inscription says that it was built in AD 1067 about a decade after the Mon king was brought to Bagan. The name of the temple was given after the name of the captive King Manuha. Traditionally. Manuha was considered one of the earliest temples at Bagan. Legend says that it was built by a Mon king named. Manuha. who had been defeated and brought to Bagan as a captive by Anawrahta. In Bagan the kings and queens. the princes and princesses all built pagodas large and small.

Manuha the Mon king. detained in Bagan. also wanted to build a temple of his own. He did not have ready money in cash. so he sold his priceless Manaw Maya jewel to a rich merchant of Myinkaba and obtained six cartloads of pure silver. He used this to build the impressive Manuha Temple.

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7. Dhammayangyi Temple

Dhammayangyi Temple is one. among the four significant monuments of Bagan. Dhammayangyi Temple is the most massive structure in Bagan which has a similar architectural plan to Ananda Temple.

It was built by King Narathu (1167-70). who was also known as Kalagya Min. the 'king killed by Indians'. The temple is located about a kilometer to the southeast of the city walls directing Minnanthu.

After murdering his own king father. Narathu ascended the throne of Bagan and due to that. he built this temple. It is said that Narathu oversaw the construction himself and that masons were excecuted if a needle could be pushed between bricks they had laid. But he never completed the construction because he was assassinated before the completion. It was said that he was displeased by the Hindu rituals and one of them who made those rituals was the Indian princess who was the daughter of Pateikkaya. So he executed her for such reasons. The princess's father wanted revenge for his innocent daughter and sent 8 officers in the disguise of Brahmans and assassinated Narathu in this very temple.

The interior floor plan of the temple includes two ambulatories. Almost all the entire innermost passage. however. was intentionally filled with brick rubble centuries ago. Three out of the four Buddha sanctums were also filled with bricks. The remaining western shrine features two original side-by-side images of Gautama and Maitreya. the historical and future Buddhas. The interlocking. mortarless brickwork at Dhammayangyi. best appreciated on the upper terraces. is said to rank as the finest in Bagan. Unfortunately the highest terraces and hidden stairways leading to them are now off limits to visitors.

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8. Thatbayinnyu Temple

Thatbyinnyu Temple is among one of the four significant monuments in Bagan. The temple is towering above the other monuments of Bagan. the magnificence in white which is the Thatbyinnyu takes its name from the Omniscience of the Buddha.

Built by King Alaungsithu (1113-1163). the Thatbyinnyu is a transitional temple. standing between the Early Style of the Ananda. half a mile to the northeast. and the Late Style of the Gawdawpalin. half a mile to the northwest. It is one of the earliest double-storeyed temples. but the arrangement is different from that of later double-storeyed temples. much as if it were still an experiment in the new form.

The plan of the Thatbyinnyu is not unlike that of the Ananda-square. with porticoes on all four sides-but the eastern portico projects further than the others. breaking the symmetry. This plan is followed in such later temples as the Sulamani and the Gawdawpalin.

Three receding terraces rise above each storey. ornamented with crenellated parapets and corner stupas. Above the terraces of the upper storey rises a curvilinear spire. surmounted by a slim. tapering stupa which takes the temple up to a height of 201 feet. The great height of the temple and the vertical lines of the ornamental features-the plain pilasters. the flame-like arch pediments. the corner stupas-give a soaring effect to the Thatbyinnyu.

The eastern portico has a central stairway guarded by two standing door-guardians. The stairway leads to an intermediate storey where a corridor runs around the central mass. Two tiers of windows along the walls make the interior bright and airy. but the walls are bare of painting except for some traces in the western portico.

Two stairs built into the thickness of the walls provide access to the terrace above the eastern portico. from where an external flight of stairs leads to the upper storey. Here. a huge image of the Buddha is seated on a masonry throne. A further flight of narrow stairs built into the thickness of the walls leads to the terraces above the upper storey.

The terraces of the Thatbyinnyu provide a good panoramic view of Bagan- of the green and brown landscape. the innumerable monuments. the broad Ayeyarwaddy river. and the distant hills to the east and west. To the southwest of the Thatbyinnyu. in a monastery compound. are two tall stone pillars with foliations in an inverted V pattern. They were the supports for a huge bronze bell of which the chronicles say:

"King Alaungsithu offered two great bells. one at the Thatbyinnyu and one at the Shwegugyi. They were cast of pure copper. 10.000 adula in weight. larger by far and nobler than the five great bells offered by his grandfather. King Kyansittha."

To the northeast of the Thatbyinnyu is the small gayocho or "tally" temple. To keep count of the bricks in the building of the Thatbyinnyu. one brick was set aside for every 10.000 used. and this small temple was built with the bricks thus set aside.

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9. Mt.Popa

Mt. Popa is about 50km away from Bagan. It takes about 45 minutes drive from Nyaung Oo Airport, Bagan.

Mt. Popa is an extinct volcano that is estimated to have erupted for the final time, over three hundred and twenty thousand years ago. However, popa’s attraction today lies not so much in its geological aspect, but more in its religious and mystical interests which are still prevalent. Popa is popularly recognized as an abode of many "Nats".

The main mountain originally had a circular crater, but the whole of the north-western side was blown away, probably by the final paroxysmal outburst, which suggests that the last eruption must have projected its discharge inclined to the sides of the volcano in that direction.

The present mountain is, therefore shaped like a horse-shoe, and it is possible to walk into the crater through the breach in the northern wall."Although the mountain appears to be a single peak from a distance, it is in fact a series of peaks; the highest points being 4981, 4801 and 4501 feet above sealevel. The main mass of Mt. Popa rests on a level plateau, roughly 1000 feet above the surrounding plains, and about 1800 feet above sealevel. The actual volcano rises about 3000 feet from this base.

On the extremity of the south-western slopes lies the extremely precipitous isolated peak known as the "Taung-ga-Lat". Some believe that this could be part of the main volcano, that was blown apart and landed as though plugged at its present location. Others theorize that it represents the infilled neck or plug of a subsidiary volcano.

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10. Tuyin Taung

Similar to Tantkyi Taung Pagoda, another famous pagoda in the Bagan region is the Tuyin Taung Pagoda. Tuyin Taung Pagoda was built during A.D 1059 by King Anawrahta. King Vizaraba from Sri Lanka donated one of Buddha's tooth relic and King Anawrahta duplicated with another one and embedded in the sacred place inside this pagoda.

There are 32 statues of elephants made in ratio to different directions at the base of the pagoda. It is an octagonal shaped designed platform on which the pagoda resides. Many years passed by but still the pagoda is maintained by time to time.

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