Bagan (formerly Pagan)Bagan, the country’s most classic sight, is a city of 3,000 pagodas on the Bagan Plains and is one of South East Asia’s greatest archaeological treasures. It was described by Marco Polo as ‘one of the finest sights in the world’.
Bagan has been a settlement area since the 2nd century. Bordered by the Irrawaddy River, this was Burma’s hugely wealthy, 13th century capital. Between Anawrahta’s conquest of Thaton in 1057 and Kublai Khan’s invasion in 1287 there were in excess of 13,000 temples. It was a tradition by royalty and noblemen to build temples to earn merit for the next life. The 11th to 13th century shrines, over an area of 42 sq km are the only remains of a once enormous city.
Some temples are still in use whilst others display old murals and interiors or have balconies affording stunning views on the plains below so are frequented by visitors to watch the sunset. Despite the vast amount of history and heritage Bagan has yet to make it to the list of Unesco World Heritage sites which is probably due to the fact that many of the temples and stupas have been sponsored for a rebuild rather than being renovated. The white plaques, resembling gravestones, indicate the sponsor but rather spoil the character of the stupas.
Bagan is also known for its quality lacquer ware.
A small temple, standing on a brick plinth, built in 1131, it is an example of Bagan’s middle period of temple building. There's a steep internal staircase to the upper level where you can see the view over Bagan.
Built in 1211 AD and standing at 50m high, it is one of the largest temples. It’s a double storied red-brick structure with plaster carvings on the arch pediments, frieze and pilaster. Inside, 4 buddhas face the cardinal points on each level.