Bagan – The House of Gilded Bells

Bagan or The Bagan Archaeological Zone is situated on the bank of Irrawaddy River, Myanmar. It is known as the main attraction of this beautiful country. This following writing will help you have more detailed information about the ancient city of Bagan.

History of Bagan

Today, it is confused that Bagan was founded in the 2nd or 9th century. Bagan was the capital and the political, economic and cultural center of the Pagan Empire from 1044 to 1287. With a vast number of religious buildings, it became the main site for religious and secular studies over the world. A large number of temples, pagodas and others structures were destroyed for some reasons. Many of them were restored and repaired by the gorvernment. However, some of them do not maintain their original architectural styles anymore. 

Myanmar Day Tours

Bagan in Myanmar with hot air balloons

Things to See and Do in Bagan

There are a couple of thousands temples, pagoda as well as monasteries in this old city. One of the most famous ones is Ananda Temple, a bell-shaped structure. The most outstanding highlight of Ananda is sikhara, the gilded top placed on the center of the building. On its highest point is a umbrella-shaped ornament. Moreover, each of five niches of sikhara has a Buddha statue. The smaller golden sikhara appear at each corner of the second terrace at the square central block. In addition, a lot of mythological lions are placed on the terraces to guard the Buddhist temple. Beside four 9m-high standing Buddha images, there are about 80 sandstone reliefs indicating the life of Buddha 2,500 years ago.

The entrance of Ananda Temple in Bagan 

Shwezigon Pagoda is considered as the oldest and most impressive structure of Bagan and an important pilgrimage place for Buddhists. At the main entrance is a big white mythical lion on the duty of guarding. The bell-shaped golden stupa is located on a square base which is 49m in length of each side and has a large gilded lion at each corner. The three terraces consist of scenes from the 547 Jataka tales and stories about Buddha. Especially,  at the third one, four small stupas are situated at its four corners. The stairways leading to the top of the terraces are guarded by Makaras, a Hindu mythologic animal. Furthermore, the pagoda includes a large standing Buddha image from the 12th century. The early history of the Shwezigon Pagoda are written in two pillars in Mon language from the end of the 11th century.

The outside of Shwezigon Pagoda 

If tourists want to explore the history of Old Bagan, Bagan Archaeological Museum is the best choice to see a large number of objects used during the last periods. It was set to work in 1998. Its two large storeys show a variety of ancient objects found in the Bagan temples and pagodas. Specifically, the first floor shows visual arts and coiffures of court ladies, the second displays objects relating to religious themes. Some remarkable items are Buddha statues up to 1,000 years old, Buddha carved plaques, ancient stone inscriptions, wood carvings, stone sculptures and copies of murals. A really important thing on display in the museum is the Myazedi inscription which is the oldest stone one in Myanmar and estimated to date back to 1113. Additionally, visitors can walk in the garden or have a chance to take a sight of the whole Bagan and its various monuments from the top of the flat roof of the museum.

The garden of Bagan Archaeological Museum 

Mount Popa is located in Mount Popa National Park and the home of the Nats, spirits of ancient ancestors. It rises about 1,500m above sea level. It is compared with an oasis in the desert because the mountain and surrounding area are green although the region is very dry. Biking to Mount Popa, you will see daily Burmese life in small villages. Travellers have to walk through 777 steps to reaching Popa Taungkalat, a monastery on top of the mountain. Many shops along the way sell numerous items including wooden handicrafts and local flowers. It is very easily to meet monkeys looking for food. If hiking at the peak of the mountain, tourists will have a great view of surrounding area including Bagan and Irrawaddy River.

Mount Popa in Bagan

There is a small night market and carnival in the middle of the peaceful city. Giong here, you will experience and see how the locals entertain. The concerts are held in the indoor stage with free ticket. The attractive thing is an eye-popping Ferris Wheel running on human strength instead of electricity or gas as others. It is hard to see this in many other countries.

Night market in Bagan

Bagan with special architectures, playful squirrels in some temples and horse drawn carrriages will make a lasting impression for visitors. Spend your time in the ancient city of Bagan.

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