Some 3000 temples and pagodas lie scattered around Bagan, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular destinations
Myanmar’s economic opening has brought many changes to its big cities. Its golden capital, Yangon, attracts foreign investment, while other destinations draw growing numbers of tourists. Bagan is the country’s best-known tourist site. Home to over 3,000 temples and pagodas built around the 13th century, Bagan covers some 42 square km along the Ayeyarwady River. This old city is a world wonder.
It costs just 10,000 Kyats (US$10) per day to hire a horse-drawn carriage. I met an experienced, friendly and funny coachman named Ko Zaw Win, who lives in Bagan and speaks good English. He told me that, long ago, Bagan was home to around 4,000 temples and pagodas, of which some 3,000 remain today. My guide led me through small villages and up to temples located on high hills. Along the way, we met lovely children running barefoot, Bagan women with thanakha powder on their faces, and workers in small pottery kilns.
unlike the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the most famous pagoda in Bagan is the white-painted Ananda Temple, which stands 52 meters high. The temple is nearly intact and a very good example of Myanmar’s ancient temple architecture. Ananda Temple is famous for four gilded wooden Buddha statues. Each statue stands 9.5 meters high and shows the Buddha in a different posture. Built by King Kyanzittha between 1090 and 1105, this temple has been renovated many times. Legend has it that the architect who designed the temple was killed by the king as soon as the temple was completed to preserve its uniqueness.
Shwesandaw Temple, also known as the Sunset Temple, is an ideal place to watch the sunset. At 5 pm, people flock to this temple. Visitors may be amazed to see photographers lugging heavy camera equipment up the temple’s narrow stairs. At sunset, visitors will understand this venues magic, as the hot red sun sinks below the horizon, its golden rays highlighting thousands of temple spires before everything fades into darkness. With no street lamps, we rode back to the hotel in darkness.
At five the next morning, my guide and his horse-cart appeared in front of my hotel. We traveled along unlit roads, armed with an electric torch. Our destination was a hot air balloon. Visitors can enjoy one hour-long flights that depart from the north and arrive to the south of the city. While the tickets are expensive, Ko Zaw Win assured me the ride was worthwhile. He was right. Sunrise over Bagan is breathtaking. Before 6 a.m, the temples lie in thick mist. As the mist clears, colorful temples appear against the red-basalt soil and nestled into thick jungle Gilded wood, red bricks and white paint glow in the morning light. The view is unforgettable. This was the journey of a lifetime
By Hai AuRead More