The temple strewn landscape of the ancient city of Bagan in Northern Myanmar is the country’s titular tourist attraction.
Some 2,000 Buddhist shrines and temples rise from the broad, flat plains around the former royal capital of the Pagan Kingdom like ancient skyscrapers. The Pagan Kingdom rose to prominence under King Anawrahta during the 11th century. Over the next two hundred years the kingdom would continue to grow and consolidate the region into the country that British would later call Burma, and is now known as Myanmar. By the 13th century the Pagan Empire would rival the Khmer Empire in Cambodia.
At the height of the Pagan Empire’s influence and power, an estimated 13,000 structures populated the plains. Today, 2,000 mostly intact temples and shrines are all that remains of the once glorious empire.
Of the surviving structures in the former city of Bagan, Ananda Pahto is the most revered and active Buddhist temple in the area. Four massive golden Buddha images facing the cardinal directions are enshrined in the center of the temple.
Dhammayangyi Pahto is the largest of the intact temples on the Bagan Plains. Its unfished murals, and hallways stuffed with ruble indicate the entire project was abounded, or maybe purposely desecrated after King Narathu’s assassination in 1170. It’s believed the king commissioned the temple to atone for murdering his father and brother to seize the throne, and then later butchering one of his wives in a fit of rage.
Bagan is best visited between November and May with Myanmar’s cooler dry season. Warmer weather comes through the region with June and lasts through October. The second half of the year has increased chances of rain showers, which offer a welcome relief from the higher day time heat, and bring the copses of trees on the grassy plains around the city to a lush green hue.
The ancient temple city of Bagan is the crown jewel of travel destinations in Myanmar. No luxury tour of Myanmar would be complete without spending at least a day exploring the more than 40-squre-miles of temples that inhabit the plains.
Bagan is located in central Myanmar. It can be accessed overland from the city of Mandalay to the south.
Appropriate Attire :
Despite its age, Bagan is a thriving center of Buddhist worship in Myanmar. Guests visiting the thousands of Buddhist shrines and temples strewn through the plains should dress modestly in keeping with local traditions.