Bagan (formerly named Pagan) is an antique city nestled in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. Bagan is known as the ideal destination for a balloon trip over thousands of the magical temples. And if you’re long for a balloon trip like this, please travel to Bagan in Myanmar.
About Bagan in Myanmar
On the par with the well-known Angkor Wat of Cambodia, Bagan of Myanmar is one of the most glorious wonders of temples in the world. It is measured 16 square miles, located on the east bank of the Ayeyarwaddy. The destination owns more than 2000 awe-inspiring temples that can even amaze everybody. As ever, the must-see highlights in Bagan are the mind-blowing temples, and the most notable names are Ananda Temple, Bu Paya Pagoda, Shwezigon Paya, Shwe Sandaw Pagoda, Khayminga Temple, and Dhammayangyi Temple. In fact, the balloon trip over thousands of religious constructions and the “buried in the jungle” adventure trait are what many people cherish Bagan.
History of Bagan
Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan from the 9th century to the 13th century. During the peak of the kingdom, there were up to 10,000 Buddhist temples and monasteries on the plain of Bagan. Amongst these, there left only around 2200 religious sites, making up the impressive Bagan Archaeological Zone. The monuments in Bagan witnessed the 55 kings that ruled the region for centuries. The authentic history of the Kingdom of Pagan was supported by the epigraphic roofs which told it began from the reign of Anawrahta (1044 – 1077 A.D.) In 1057, King Anawrahta defeated Thaton and gave the Theravada scriptures back to his capital, with numerous Buddhist monks. Since then, the Mon monks influenced Bagan with their alphabets, religions, and scriptures. When it came to the 13th century, the Kingdom of Bagan begun to fall, which drove thousands of temples to be sacked by the vandals and invaders. Only some of the ten thousands of religious ruins were left. The later generations take these ruins for learning and worshipping.
What to See in Bagan
The highlights of Ananda Temple are the authentic stone museum and the best-preserved Buddhist site in Bagan. Historically, Ananda Temple was erected in 1090 under the reign of King Kyanzittha, in the design of the cruciform with multiple terraces. Regarding the structure of Ananda, it is the simple corridor temple. Here, you find the 554 glazed tiles on the base which tell life stories of the Buddha. Besides, the not-to-miss highlight is the four statues of the standing Buddha, and each faces one of the 4 cardinal directions (East, West, South, North). Such design embodies the unlimited wisdom of the Buddha. Coming to Ananda, people might also be impressed by the 80 frescoes which depict the early stages the Buddha’s life before gaining enlightenment. Due to the earthquake in 1975, Ananda Temple was later restored. And in 1990, its spires were gilded during the 900th-anniversary celebration.
Bagan Archaeological Museum
This museum is settled in the Old Bagan area, in the north of the destination. The builder of Bagan Archaeological Museum was U Sein Kho who was the specialist in the stone tablet field. The specialist did the collection tasks to gather lots of the ancient stone tablets around Bagan and brought them to the museum for display. The inauguration of the museum was in 1904, and it has been displaying numerous antique artifacts around and near Bagan. In 1998, the new Bagan Archaeological Museum was completed and opened to serve the visitors better. The museum now includes three stories with the octagonal base. Remarkably, the top floor is where to enjoy the captivating view of Bagan and the prehistoric monuments.
Bu Pagoda (Bu Paya)
The name of Bu Paya means “the pagoda with a gourd shape.” It is related to a legend about the 3rd king of Bagan, King Pyusawhti (AD 162-243) removed the gourd-like climbing plant (called “bu”) infested the riverbanks before he reached the throne. Then, to commemorate his good luck, the King decided to build the gourd-shaped pagoda on the riverbank of Ayeyarwaddy. Unfortunately, the authentic Bu Pagoda was destroyed due to the earthquake of 1975, and then it got rebuilt. The pagoda is impressive, and the view is fascinating.
The Town of Nyaung U
This touristy town is about 5km northeast of the Old Bagan. The town of Nyaung U is also the most populated region in Bagan, and with the presence of Nyaung U Airport today, this town becomes more crowded. As the town receives lots of visitors per day, the markets, hotels, and shops develop there much. In fact, both local people and the oversea holidaymakers come to this town for shopping and accommodation. Therefore, if you have the needs for either shopping or accommodating well, then Nyaung U is a place to go.
Shwezigon is located between Wetkyi-in and Nyaung U. The pagoda was finished by King Kyansittha (1084-1113). It was believed to enshrine one the four replicas of Buddha’s tooth from Sri Lanka (the other replicas are stored in TankyiTaung Pagoda, Lawkananda Pagoda, and TuyinTaung pagoda. Spiritually speaking, if a person agrees to visit and do homage to all of the four mentioned pagodas, he/she will receive good luck and prosperity in return. The interior of the pagoda is featured with the gorgeous wood carvings. There are also 4 shrines there, each of which contains the 4m-high bronze standing Buddha. Right in the gate, you see the massive lion statue.
Shwe Sandaw Pagoda
After the victory of Thaton in 1057, the Shwe Sandaw Pagoda was erected by King Anawrahta. The pagoda looks graceful in the circular shape. Here, people can expect to meet the statue of the 8-headed Hindu god, the mythical scenes of the Buddha’s life, the antique bell, the special stairways, etc. The other interesting trait of Shwe Sandaw Pagoda lies in the legend which says the pagoda enshrines the Buddha hair relic. From the terrace of the pagoda, it is fascinating to enjoy the fabulous sunrise and sunset over the whole Bagan. Therefore, people often come there for both worshipping and sightseeing.
Belonging to the antique Bagan complex, Khayminga Temple is extraordinary with several holy stupas. The temple itself was built in the 11th century that emphasized the relationship between nature and the historical religious monuments. So, traveling to Khayminga, people can expect to find the wonderful combination of the picturesque landscape and the sacred religious structure. The visit is interesting enough to bring you back in time when passing hundreds of the brick elements.
The wonders of temples in Bagan cannot lack the name of Dhammayangyi. It is Bagan’s most giant temple whose architecture looks similar to the Ananda Temple. The construction was built by King Narathu (1167-1170) who strictly appreciated this temple and placed a high demand on its completion. Nonetheless, this King was assassinated before the completion of the temple. Today, Dhammayangyi is notable for the brick rubbles, the Buddha sanctums, the shrine of Gautama and Maitreya Buddha, etc.
When to Visit Bagan
Whether you intend to see the Old Bagan or the New Bagan, it’s crucial to check out the weather condition, in general. People it is ideal to travel to Bagan all year round because the city doesn’t have a rainy season. In fact, Bagan is in the middle of the “dry zone” of Myanmar. It gets little precipitation due to the Rakhine Yoma Mountain Range in the west which makes the region sheltered from the rain. So, you are free to enjoy various outdoor activities in Bagan package tours, from biking to enjoying horse cart, boating, or having a balloon at any time of the year.
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