Bagan was the most prosperous capital of the Pagan Kingdom during the 11th – 13th centuries. More than 14,000 terracotta temples were collapsed after wars and the earthquake in 1975 so now there are only more than 2,000 temples still exist. To explore Bagan, you should try these experiences.
Discover Old Bagan by bicycle, ox cart or on foot
One of the interesting things to do in Bagan is to explore the remote villages. They can be difficult to reach but you will be experienced many new experiences in your own way. For example, you are able to walk, bike or hire a horse cart to discover and admire the magnificent temples complex and monasteries in Old Bagan.
The temples in Old Bagan are quite close to each other and it is easy to take a tour to explore all of them. If walking allows you to stop at wherever you want, the bike will help you travel further places without consuming a lot of energies and horse cart will bring you a memorable experience.
On the way, you can stop at the temples to pray or visit Buddha but remember to take your shoes outside and dress politely. You also do not hesitate to ask locals when you have any questions or lose because many people in here can speak English. In addition, you can buy handmade or lacquer paintings to bring back as a gift.
Visit temples in Bagan
Let’s visit Manuha Pagoda to learn about offerings custom of Myanmar people. They have a large golden bell placed on the cement pedestal in the middle of the pagoda’s hall. Offering has long been a beautiful cultural feature of the people of Bagan.
The most sacred and important temple in Bagan is Ananda Temple which was built in 1105 BCE. It was severely damaged in the earthquake in 1975 but in 1990 it was restored and gold plated. The impressive thing of Ananda Temple is the huge four direction Golden Buddha Statue: Kakusandha (north), Konagamana (east), Kassapa (south) and Gautama (west).
Mahabodhi Temple is the next destination you should not miss. Its name and architecture are quite similar to Bodhigaya Bodh Gaya Temple in India but the gate of Mahabodhi Temple is gilded and locked by a special lock.
The highest temple in Bagan is Thatbyinyu Phaya with 61 meters high. It was built in the middle of the 12th century by King Alaungsithu. Standing on the top of the temple, you can see 360 view of Old Bagan.
Known as the “sunset temple,” Shwesandaw is perfectly place for admiring the sunset in Bagan. According to legend, the temple was built in 1057 BC by King Anawratha to store one of Shakyamuni Buddha’s eight hairs. In the sunset, the scene changes rapidly, from red to purple, and gradually disappears into the darkness.
In addition, Bagan has many other temples for you to visit such as Shwezigon, Shweguyi, Sulamani, Gubyaukgyi, Gawdawpalin, Bupayastupa, …
Conquer Popa Mountain and explore the villages
About 50 km from central Bagan in the South, Popa is the famous attraction of Myanmar. The mountain is known for its Taung Kalat Monastery on the top of a 737 meters high volcano. Visitors must go through 777 steps to reach the monastery. Mount Popa is over 1,520 meters high and is considered the house of NAT god.
After conquering Popa, you can visit the villages at the foot of the mountain. The people here are very hospitable so you can also stay overnight and enjoy a delicious dinner at their house.
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