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Bagan & Environment

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Bagan

Established : 11th century AD
Location Latitude : 21' 10' N, Longitude: 94' 51'E
Temperature : Min 10 'C - Max 43 'C

Bagan is the capital city of the first Myanmar Empire and one of the richest archaeological sites in South-east Asia. Situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyawaddy River. The Magic of Bagan has inspired visitors to Myanmar for nearly 1000 years. The main tourist destination in Myanmar, Bagan is full of ancient architecture and ruins. Temples, pagodas, monuments, stone scripts, votive tablets, wall paintings, mural paintings, stuccos carvings can be found in many places in Bagan.

And also on par with Angkor Wat, Bagan ranks as one of the great wonders of the world with over 2000 awe-inspiring pagodas. This ancient city is dotted with thousands of ancient stupas and temples from different eras making it one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Asia. The breathtaking view of the brick temples, against the backdrop of an expansive plain of dust is unforgettable.

ANANDA TEMPLE

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The Ananda Temple is located in Bagan, Myanmar and a Buddhist temple built in 1105 AD during the reign (1084–1113) of King Kyanzittha of the Pagan Dynasty. It is one of four surviving temples in Bagan. The temple layout is in a cruciform with several terraces leading to a small pagoda at the top covered by an umbrella known as hti, which is the name of the umbrella or top ornament found in almost all pagodas in Myanmar. The Buddhist temple houses four standing Buddhas, each one facing the cardinal direction of East, North, West and South. The temple is said to be an architectural wonder in a fusion of Mon and adopted Indian style of architecture. The impressive temple has also been titled the "Westminster Abbey of Burma". The temple has close similarity to the Pathothamya temple of the 10th–11th century, and is also known as “veritable museum of stones”.

The temple was damaged in the earthquake of 1975. However, it has been fully restored and is well maintained by frequent painting and whitewashing of the walls. On the occasion of 900th anniversary of its construction celebrated in 1990 the temple spires were gilded. It is a highly revered temple of Bagan.

ANANDA OAKKYAUNG

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Ananda Oakkyaung Monastery is located in Old Bagan. It was built during A.D 1137. Ananda Okkyaung Monastery simply means Brick Monastery; and actually it is a small red brick building. This is situated within the compound of Ananda Temple. The inside walls are covered in 18th century paintings depicting Buddha’s life and elements of the history of Bagan. The paintings describe that the monastery was built by three brothers.

THATBYINNYU TEMPLE

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Thatbyinnyu 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. Thatbyinnyutanyan in Myanmar language, Sabbannutanana in Pali, omniscience is given further explanation in contemporary inscriptions as “knowing thoroughly and seeing widely.”

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.

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. 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.

GADAWTPALIN PAGODA

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This pagoda is take to be built between late 12th century to early 13th century. Also it was started by one king and ended by another. The first king to have started this construction was Narapatisithu and finished by King Nadaungmya (1211 to 1234). The name literally means 'Platform to which Homage is Paid'.

The earthquake of 1975 destroyed many precious historical monuments of Bagan including Gadawtpalin. After the quake, the reconstruction of this Pagoda was one of the biggest operation to be taken.

In plan the temple is somewhat similar to the Thatbyinnyu-cube-shaped, with Buddha images on the four sides of the ground floor, with several refinements. It features the use of full pediments over the windows and stairways that ascend through the walls rather than from within the central cubes. The top of the restored sikhara, which toppled off in the earthquake, reaches 55 metres in height. Gadawtpalin is considered the crowning achievement of the Late Bagan period.

SHWESANDAW PAGODA

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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.

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.

Before when people were allowed to climb up the terrace of the pagoda, it was a great spot to view the sunset of Bagan. But nowadays, to keep the ancient monuments in good shape, the stairways have been closed down.

BU PAYA PAGODA

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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.

This cylindrical Pyu-style stupa is said to be the oldest in Bagan. Bupaya was completely destroyed when it tumbled into the river in the 1975 earthquake, but has since been totally rebuilt. The distinctively bulbous stupa stands above rows of crenellated terraces. The view from the river is also a breath-taking one.

You can also hire a boat and take a ride in the Ayeyarwaddy River, to get a better view of the pagoda.

DHAMMAYANGYI TEMPLE

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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 executed 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.

MINGALARZEDI

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The Mingalarzedi Pagoda or the "Blessing Stupa" lies close to the Ayeyarwaddy River Bank. The Pagoda was built in 1277 by King Narathihapati. It was the very last of the large late period monuments to be built before the kingdom's decline, thus representing the final flowering of Bagan's architectural skills. It took six whole years to complete the construction of this great monument. Mingalarzedi is noted for its fine proportions and for the many beautiful glazed jataka tiles around its three square terraces. The smaller square building in the zedi grounds is one of the few Tripitaka libraries made of brick; most were constructed of wood, like monasteries, and were destroyed by fire long ago. Mingalarzedi's uppermost terrace is one of the highest points now accessible to visitors. Being the westernmost monument at Bagan, it's a particularly good spot for a panoramic afternoon view of all the monuments lying to the east.

MAHABODHI

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The Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre (MIMC) is a great example of one man's vision turning into reality. Venerable Bhikkhu Sanghasena established the Mahabodhi International Meditation Center in 1986 to offer both spiritual instructions as well as desperately needed humanitarian services to impoverished people in the remote land of Ladakh.

A dedicated team of social workers, teachers, doctors, monks, nuns, community leaders and care-providers have created an integrated community at Devachan in Ladakh which provides comprehensive care to all segments of society: children, elderly, special needs individuals, monks & nuns, the sick, as well as those seeking spiritual development. The community has become a model for the region through sustainable, ecological development. With the support of our sponsors we hope to be able to contribute our part to this goal by serving the people of Ladakh. You are most welcome to join us in this effort.

PAHTOTHAMYA

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Pahtothamya Temple is popularly held to be one of five temples built by the non-historical King Taungthugyi (931-964) referred to history. But some of the archeologists also mark that it was built by King Sawlu by the references of the wall paintings which dates back only to the 11th Century. King Taungthugyi was also known as Nyaung U Sawrahan. This temple was known to have been built like one of those in Thaton. Therefore. the temple compose of many Mon style paintings in the inside. But the temple was renovated during the reign of King Kyanzittha (1084-1113).

Pahtothamya temple has a long hall which lengthens towards the East. This monument has a harmonious proportion. having a height of 26 meter. 30 meter on the side and the hall has 17m of length. The interior of this single-storey building is dimly lit. typical of the early type of Pyu-influenced temples with their small. perforated stone windows. In its vertical superstructure and lotus-bud sikhara. however. the monument is clearly beginning to move forward from the Early period. The bell shaped principal stupa in the center was constructed differently entirely from other stupas. The main body has 12 angles. At the bases of the angles there used to be Nagar heads. Upon the main body is the relic chamber. on top of which are concentric rings of plaster moldings. The 1975 earthquake damaged the concentric rings which were now restored by the Archeology Department. In each of the four walls were installed five perforated brick windows. At the north and south devotional halls there is no such window. There is a spiral staircase built in the thickness of the north wall of the devotional hall. It leads to upper storey where there are small surrounding stupas. Inside the niches of these stupas are Buddha statues of plaster molding. They are the original works still unspoilt. The earthquake of 1975 damaged one original statue of plaster in the northern niche but it had been restored. Painting remnants along the interior passages may rate as the earliest surviving murals in Bagan. There are four smaller temples surrounding Pahtothamya Temple and inside theses temples are magnificent artistic Buddha Images.

THARABAR GATE

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Tharabar Gate is the main gate of the east wall and 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".

MYOE DAUNG MONASTERY

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The main monastery building, with an east-west orientation, is approximately 130 ft. x 115 ft. (40 m. x 35 m.). Most of its significant elements are from the pre-colonial Kon-baung period; some of the rooms apparently are later. Its glory and what should be a major claim to prominence lies in its numerous woodcarvings which are also mostly from the late Kon-baung period of the mid- to late 19th century.

The Myoe Daung complex actually contains two monasteries, numerous pyathats, pavilions, rest houses and ancillary buildings. The main monastery building, with an east-west orientation, is approximately 130 ft. x 115 ft. (40 m. x 35 m. Its glory and what should be a major claim to prominence lies in its numerous woodcarvings which are also mostly from the late Kon-baung period of the mid- to late 19th century.

BAGAN MUSEUM

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The Bagan Archaeological Museum was opened on 17th April 1998 in the world renowned ancient city Bagan, in Mandalay Division, Upper Myanmar. It is situated near the Gawdawt Palin Pagoda.

In 1976 the site to the south of Gawdawt Palin Pagoda was selected and designated for Archaeological Museum Compound in which an octagonal shaped museum building was constructed. In it were displayed very rare and fragile artifacts excavated from ruined Bagan monuments. Three big oblong sheds were built near it as annexure under which stone inscriptions and stone statues of the Bagan Period were displayed. It was called Archaeological Site Museum Bagan and was officially opened in October 1979.

SHWEGUGYI

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Shwegugyi means "the Golden Cave" in Myanmar. It is located in front of the royal palace and therefore also known as the "Nandaw Oo Paya" meaning the "Pagoda in front of the palace".

It was built by King Alaungsithu in 1140 A.D. There is a legend saying, that there was a huge block of brick about 12 feet high sprouted from the ground in response to the king's greatness of accumulated merit. So with the huge block of brick, formed the plinth in the formation of the temple. It was mentioned that the Shwegugyi was completed in 7 months and 7 days.

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