Bagan is one of the architectural wonders of the world. It lies on the east bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River and about 290 km southwest of Mandalay and 700 km north of Yangon. It was the capital of the first Myanmar Empire that flourished from the 11th to the 13th centuries AD. The founder of the Bagan Empire was King Anawrahta (1044-1077)
There were altogether 55 Kings, according to the chronicles of the Bagan Dynasty (11th and 12th centuries). Most of the pagoda- construction was done towards the later part of the dynasty when Bagan was at the height of its power and prosperity. During that period over 4000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.
The Bagan temple falls into one of two broad categories: the stupa- style solid temple and the vault-style hollow temple.
Bagan is also the center of Myanmar lacquer-ware industry.
Shwe zigone pagoda
The Shwezigone Pagoda is located in Nyaung – u is a prototype of Myanmar stupas and consists of a circular gold leaf-guided stupa surrounded by smaller temples and shrines. It was constructed by king Kyansittha of the Bagan Dynasty in 1102. It is the most venerable in this region.
Bupaya is so, a bulbous dome resembling the gourd fruit too, hence the name. It is located at a bend on the bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. It has been claimed to be the oldest in the region, dating from the 3rd century. The original one tumbled into the river in the 1975 earthquake. The present one is the newly built structure.
Apeyadana (Lovely Jewel) Templeconsists of a square basement surmounted by a stupa with a pronounced relic – chamber and a tall spire. On the inner faces of the walls are decorated with mural paintings representing gods and divinities.
Manuha Temple built in Myinkaba Village by captive Mon King Manuga in 1067 is one of the oldest temples in Bagan. It is a rectangular building of two stories housing three images of seated Buddhas and an image of Buddha entering Nirvana, Manuha Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bagan.
It signifies “Omniscience “. As it is the tallest, 61 m high, it overtops all other monuments and sits in the center. Temple was constructed by King Alaungsithu in the mid -12th century.
Bagan Archaeological Museum
The three-story museum has a collection of many items including the statues of Lord Buddha, votive tables, stucco pieces,terra-cotta cups and pots of Bagan Dynasty (11th -13th century).
Kyansistha Umin located near Shwezigone Pagoda is a cave like chamber, it is a low brick building half- underground and half-above. Some walls of inner corridors are ornamented with frescoes of different centuries from 11th to 13th.
The Tharabha Gate dating back to 1020 is the only surviving gate of Bagan Dynasty. The gate is located to the east of the old city. It consists of two brick- walled shrines for two guardian nats, named Min Mahagiri and Hnamadawgyi Shwemyethna, who allegedly were executed by order of a king.
The Ananda Temple (completed in 1091) is a masterpiece of King Kyansistha and also the crowning achievement of the early style of temple architecture. It is said to be an architecture. It is said to be an architectural wonder in a fusion of Mon and adopted Indian style of architecture.
It is one of the Great Monuments, similar in plan to the Anada Temple. It was constructed to atone the guilt of King Narathu in 12th century who committed patricide, but it was never completed on account of his early demise. Dhammayangyi Temple is the most massive structure in Bagan.