Must See Bagan Temples: Between Kings and bricks
March 13, 2016
Must See Bagan Temples. We are located in Central Myanmar.
How to get there, best time and cost
I wrote everything about “how to get there, best time, cost and my personal experience” in my post “The Ancient Burmese Empire”. This trip is also included in my 110 day around Southeast Asia.
This text is focused on understanding more about the Must see Bagan temples on my personal opinion.
5th Position: Gawdawpalin Pahto
Being 60 m high Gawdawpalin is one of the largest and most imposing temple in Bagan. This site was built during the reign of King Narapatisithu and completed during the reign of his successor, Nadaungmyaand (13th century). Its name means platform where respect is paid, studies say that it is part of traditional ceremonials to honour royal ancestors. It is a brick masonry structure with stone reinforcement, barrel and diaphragm vaults cover the shrines and corridors inside the temple.The three lower terraces and four upper terraces are topped by a square tower.
Unfortunately, Gawdawpalin was near the epicentre of the 1975 earthquake, the tower was destroyed and the upper part was heavily damaged. About 40% of the exterior stucco mouldings are still in place but the highest terrace is still closed to visitors. What impressed me most is undoubtedly its huge structure that makes it look massive and imposing. Must See Bagan Temples.
4th Position: Nagayon
South of Myinkaba, Nagayon, was built at the end of the 11th century by Kyansitthar,it was supposed to be the Ananda Pahto prototype.The main Buddha image is twice life size and shelters under the hood of a huge dragon serpent (naga), that’s the reason of its name which means sheltered by a serpent. Paintings which decorate the main corridor are so beautiful and characteristic of the period of Kyansitthar. The central shrine has two smaller standing Buddhas as well as the large one.
This temple is skipped by most of tour guides but I personally think that it deserves a visit. It’s well preserved, elegant and one of the most ancient pagodas. Must See Bagan Temples.
3th Position: Mi-Ma Laung Kyaung
Even if I have chosen it within this Top 5 temples this is not considered a temple but a Monastery. It is believed that the temple has been built during the reign of Narapatisithu (1174-1211). Square in plan, it has multiple roofs crowned by a tall, tapering stupa. The temple stands on a rectangular platform which is ascended by a flight of steps and a nice set of Chinthe (Halflion/half-dragon) guards the stairway. The atmosphere impressed me, there was no crowd and it was awesome to see young monks walking and praying around the monastery. Must See Bagan Temples.
2th Position: Dhammayangyi Pato
It was probably built by King Narathu (1167-1170) over a three year period and this site is Bagan’s most massive shrine. It is also famous for its mysterious and cruel history. People said that King Narathu built the temple to atone for his sins: he smothered his father and brother to death and executed one of his wives, an Indian princess, for practising Hindu rituals. After his assassination, the inner encircling ambulatory was filled with brick rubble, as “payback”.
The Dhammayangyi, similar in its ground plan to the Greek Cross of the earlier Ananda Pahto, is a very large square single story pyramidal temple with six monumental ascending exterior terraces. It has also the largest Bagan collection of terracotta tiles.This incredible site remains one of the most unique and intriguing constructions on the Bagan plain, even if the temple’s bad karma may be a reason why it remains one of the few temples not to have undergone major restoration. Must See Bagan Temples
1th Position: Ananda Pahto
The Ananda Pahto was the first of Bagan’s great temples (1090-1105), and remains one of the finest, most beautiful and perhaps most photographed of all of Bagan’s architectural complex. It is a symmetrical masterpiece of Mon architectural style and, with some North Indian influence, reflects the transition from the Early to the Middle period of Bagan architecture.
The entrance ways make the structure a perfect Greek cross and each entrance presents a stupa finial. Look back as your enter to see the huge carved teak doors that separate interior halls from cross passages on all four sides.
Four impressive gilded teak standing Buddhas, facing the four cardinal directions, represent the Buddhas who have attained enlightenment in the present world cycle. The images facing north and south are contemporaneous with the building, while the east and west images replace figures destroyed by fire or temple thieves, hundred years ago.
For my opinion this is the most fabulous site in Bagan, apart from the main 4 impressive Buddha statues, there are hundreds of smaller statues which give a chance to study styles and influences over hundreds of years. Ananda Pahto is also the most preserved temple in Bagan. Must See Bagan Temples.
- Don’t get stuck with the thing that ruins your day, life is too short to be wasted in your crap. Smile and be positive because there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy, one of those is travelling.
Author of this post: Davide
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Wow what beautiful temples! Myanmar looks like such a beautiful country and now Bagan is the top of my list, thanks for sharing.
Thanks for you comment 😀
Impressive list. I have seen many images of Bagan but somehow all of them are taken from hot air baloons. Glad to see a closer look and extra details here. Myanmar s actually not far from my home town in North East India.
Well pretty easy to go there no?!?! Just get a quick visit helping local people as well, would be brilliant! thanks for your words
You’ve very well captured and given a gist of the stories of these temples! Definitely calls for a trip to Bagan. Is there some place where a larger size of these images could be available? Strictly for viewing purpose 🙂
Yes Awara, my laptop auhauhauh 😀 Do you need these pictures for your blog?!?! We can cooperate as well!! 😀
I wanna go there so much, it has always intrigued me as a country. Such an amazing culture! Fantastic post and inspiring pictures 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks for your words Adam, you should go there and explore this part of Myanmar! 😀
All these temples look amazing. Too bad about the back story to Dhammayangyi Pato. It sounds pretty tragic. Thanks for sharing, this gives everyone some good insight to plan a trip to Bagan.
thanks for your words, 😀
Myanmar really sounds and looks like a fascinating country. If I ever travel to Asia, this is one country that I would like to visit. It is just so much more interesting when not so many others are traveling there. 🙂
Myanmar is becoming really popular, especially after the last national elections; Myanmar now is freedom from fear, it’s time to visit this wonderful country!! 😀
Such an amazing country … Ever since I saw a documentary, I’ve been wanting to visit the country, but it hasn’t happened yet unfortunately. Thank you for sharing this and giving me new motivation to make it happen!
Yes Alina, there many things to do and see in this beautiful location! Myanmar is amazing, Bagan is unique! 😀
These are absolutely amazing! Bagan is definitely on my bucket list. There are so many temples there, your list really helps narrow down the best ones! Thanks for sharing.
So many temples to discover in every corner of this area!! Thanks for your comment
All the temples are beautiful! Great info about every temples as well. Like the readers above this is really helpful for those wanting to visit Bagan.
Thanks for your comment Christina; Bagan is one of the most undiscovered temple area in the world!! 😀
I have to say Bagan is on my bucket list. The pictures you took were amazing. By the way, is that the place that was struck by an large earthquake earlier this year. What a shame that the historical relics were destroyed.
Yes Phil, unfortunately some of the most important temples in Bagan were destroyed; anyway, Buddhists believe that that they gain merit through doing good deeds, like fixing pagodas, and will be rewarded in this life, or the next; thanks for your comment
Need to save up for that balloon ride!!! The temples look a bit similar to our Indian temples, you are right about the north Indian influence. Adding Myanmar to my never ending list of must see before I die!
Bagan has always intrigued me as a destination. I have always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride over the temples during the sunrise. It’s close to my country India and I hope to do that soon.
Wow, that’s a dream! I wanted to do the same but when I asked the price I quickly changed my mind (I think it was 250 US$). Anyway let me know if you do it or post something about your experience! thanks a lot for your comment 😀
Such a helpful post! Planning to visit bagan next year and u gave me ideas on which temples to explore. You got nice shots!
Thank you very much for your comment here!! Bagan is wonderful and I knew people that spent just 1 day there, well… that’s not possible!! 😀
Thank you for your comment!! Bagan is a must-see of Myanmar!!