HOW TO GET THERE
It takes about
one hour and twenty minutes to fly from Yangon to Bagan.
There are daily flights to Bagan from Yangon, Mandalay and
Heho. By overland, it takes 14 hours from Yangon and 7 hours
from Mandalay by coach. There is a regular train between
Bagan and Mandalay too. The newly constructed railway
between Mandalay and Bagan was unveiled in September, 1996.
Express trains from Yangon to Mandalay stop at Thazi, from
where it is accessible to Bagan by a 3-hour drive. There is
also a double-decker steamer service between Mandalay and
Bagan and the cruises " the Road to Mandalay"
operated by E & O Express, RV Pandaw 1947 operated by
Ayravata Cruises, and Irrawaddy Princess.
The gateway was built during the 9th century, by King Pyin
Pyar Min (A.D 846 -878). He built the fortress of Bagan with
12 gateways. The Tharaba Gateway was located on the east
side of the palace. It was used as the main gate to the
city. "Tharaba" meaning "The Gate which can prevent the
arrows of the enemy". The gate is guarded by Min Maha Giri
(the brother) and Namadaw (the sister) spirits on each side
of the gate.
The Tharabar Gate
Completed in 1090, Ananda Temple is King Kyansittha's
masterpiece and crowning achievement of the early style temple
architecture. The structural layout plan is that of a perfect
Greek cross with four huge Buddha images in standing position,
facing in four different directions, and a series of eighty
relieves depicting the early stages of the Buddha's life from
the Birth to His Enlightenment.
ANANDA OKKYAUNG MONASTERY
Is a small red Brick Monastery situated within the temple
compound of Ananda Temple. The inside walls are covered in
18th century paintings depicting Buddha’s life and elements
of the history of Bagan.
Over 66 meters high, and built by King Alaungsithu in the
middle of the 12th century, this white stucco building
overtops all other monuments as the highest pagoda on the
The Thatbinnyu Temple
Located slightly to the west of Thatbyinnyu and inside the
old city walls, is the only remaining Hindu temple in Bagan.
It was believed to be built during (A.D 931-964). In the
early days of Bagan, people used to believe in Hinduism, and
worshipped Vishu, Brahman and many other Hindu gods. This
used to be a place to worship those gods. But afterwards,
King Anawrahta brought Theravada Buddhism to Bagan with the
conquest of Thaton, and made the Hinduism vanish. It clearly
is one of the earliest of the Bagan temples.
Is a medium size early Pyu type brick masonry stupa. Its
date of construction remains uncertain. On the external
walls and each face had been carved in brick the ten
misadventures of Vishnu. These statues were placed upright
in niches decorated with the pilasters. The murals are
contemporary sculptures. The center of the temple is
occupied by an enormous brick mass surrounded classically
bricks. It is this mass which supports the dome and will
sikhara it. The name even of the temple is curious, it means:
"the temple where the spirits are confined" and
perhaps announces a relation with the nats, which had taken
refuge here, not being able to do it in a traditional
Standing on the high brick plinth, this temple was built by
King Alaungsithu in 1131 AD. The arch pediments, pilasters,
plinth and cornice molding are decorated with fine stucco
carvings, evident of Myanmar architecture of the early 12th
MYOE DAUNG MONASTERY
This temple was built by King Narapatisithu during the 12th
century. It is about 60 meters high with a fine view over
the ruins of the Bagan plains and the mighty Ayeyarwaddy
The GawdawPalin Temple
It’s the oldest and the finest monastery of that age. The
complex contains two monasteries, numerous pyathats,
pavilions, rest houses and ancillary buildings. Located in
the north of Old Bagan.
The Nat Taung complex actually contains two monasteries,
numerous pyathats, pavilions, rest houses and ancillary
buildings. The main monastery building, with an east-west
orientation, is approximately 130 ft. x 115 ft. (40 m. x 35
m. Its glory and what should be a major claim to prominence
lies in its numerous woodcarvings which are also mostly from
the late Kon-baung period of the mid- to late 19th century.
The museum run by Archaeological Department is situated near
the Gawdawpalin Temple. It has a collection of more than
2,000 items including Buddha statues, stucco pieces, terra-cotta
cups and pots. Open daily except Monday and public holidays.
Built by King Narathu during A.D. 1165 is Bagan’s most
massive shrine. Among the four extraordinary temples in
Bagan, Dhammayangyi is well known for the mass and thickness
of the temple.
Standing on the brink of the Ayeyarwaddy River, the Bupaya
Pagoda is a conspicuous landmark for travelers along the
river. This pagoda with bulbous dome resembling the ''Bu''
or gourd is a favorite spot for visitors to watch the sunset.
Is one of Bagan's premier temple attractions. The name
itself means Crowning Jewel or Small Ruby. It was the first
and most important temple of the late period (1170-1300) of
Bagan monument building. It was one of many temples and
stupas built by Narapatisithu. This temple is similar to
Htilominlo and the Gawdawpalin in architecture but with
better interior lighting. It stands beyond the Dhammayangyi
Temple. Important features of the Sulamani include its fine
brickwork and use of stone in both load-bearing areas as
well as on vulnerable external corner elements. The interior
was once painted with fine frescoes but only dim traces can
be seen today.
The Sulamani Temple
This monastery of Indian influence is situated southeast of
the Sulamani. This monastery of Indian influence probably
had around the timber structures, even a hall of ordination,
even a small palate.
Pyathatgyi is really the most interesting monastery if one
is interested in the last pagoda of Bagan, and with the
techniques of construction. It was perhaps the last great
construction of the dynasty of Bagan. The technique of the
vaults on corridors intersected from/to each other is
The last pagoda of the Bagan dynasty built by King
Narathihapatae (1256-1287). Started building in 1268, and
before it was finished, a prophecy arose that "once the
pagoda is finished, the Kingdom would be destroyed".
The King thus stopped the works for 6 years. He resumed
works in 1274. Ten years later, he had to run away from
Bagan to escape the invading Mongols.
King Anawrahta built this graceful circular pagoda in 1057.
The five terraces once had terra-cotta plaques showing
scenes from the Jataka. The pagoda bell rises from two
octagonal bases, which top the five square terraces. The
upper terrace of Shwesandaw Pagoda has become a popular
sunset-viewing spot. Try the place for sunrise.
Is a long low, rectangular brick structure, a little to the
west of the Shwesandaw Pagoda. The temple itself is not very
distinguished, but it houses the Shinbinthalaung Buddha
image made during the 11th Century. The temple in which the
Buddha image lies is about 84 feet in length, and the image
itself is 70 feet in length. The Buddha is in the position
of Parinibbana, the Decease, lying on his right side, his
cheek resting on his right hand.
Close to the Shwesandaw stands the Lawkahteikpan Temple -
small but interesting for its excellent frescoes and
inscriptions in both Myanmar and Mon.
NYAUNG PP & WETKYI-IN
It is a 13th century temple with a spire resembling the
Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya in India. This temple is known
for its wall paintings depicting scenes from the Jatakas (life
stories of the Buddha).
Built in 1211 AD by King Nadaungmya, the Htilominlo is one
of the largest temples of Bagan. It is a double-storied
structure rising 50 meters in height. This temple is noted
for its fine plaster carvings on the arch pediments, frieze
Dhammayazika Pagoda was built by King Narapati Sithu in 1198. At
first glance looking much like the famous Shwezigon, the
Dhammayazika is unusual because it has pentagonal terraces
instead of the usual square ones. Above the three receding
terraces, which are ornamented with glazed Jataka plaques raises
a bell-shaped dome, which merges directly into a sharply
tapering conical finial. On each of the five sides of the pagoda
there is a small temple. The temples themselves are of the usual
form, square in plan, with a porch for entrance, and surmounted
by terraces and a curvilinear spire.
NANPAYA AND MANUHA TEMPLE
Built by Mon King Manuha of Thaton, who was a prisoner of
war by King Anawrahta. Some say King Manuha used Nanpaya as
his residence during his years of exile in Bagan. The
quality of masonry in both of these temples is very fine.
The finest feature of the whole temple is the stone relief
carvings of the Hindu deity Bhrama in Nanpaya.
GUBYAULGYI TEMPLE (MYINKABA)
Was built during the A.D 1113, by Raza Kumar, the son of
King Kyansitthar and Queen Thanbula. The Gubyaukgyi Temple
is a fine temple in the Early Style, square, with a
vestibule in the east. The Gubyaukgyi is also noted for the
paintings, which cover the walls of the vestibule, the
corridor and the sanctum. These paintings are among the
earliest now extant in Bagan.
A portico in the north, paved with green glazed stones and
having niches holding stone reliefs of the Buddha, provides
access to the Nagayon. Within the temple itself, the central
shrine contains a huge standing image of the Buddha. Two
smaller images flank the main one. A corridor, also paved
with green glazed stones, runs around the central shrine.
Dim light comes in through the perforated windows of the
outer walls. The walls of the corridor have niches holding
stone sculptures depicting the Buddhas previous to Gotama,
as well as paintings showing scenes from the Jatakas and the
Final Life of Gotama Buddha.
This Pagoda built by King Kyanzittha in adoration for his
wife contains a seated brick Buddha that has now been mostly
covered concrete. However the true attraction lies in the
stunning paintings that cover the inner walls, most
representing images from Mahayana Buddhism, such as Brahma,
Indra and Vishnu.
Situated at the edge of the river, this large gilded Stupa
is one of the prominent visual landmarks of Bagan and can be
seen by all boats that pass along the Ayeyarwady River.
ASHE PETLEIK AND ANAUK PETLEIK PAGODAS
The two Petleik pagodas (the Ashe (Eastern) and Anauk (Western)
- belong to the 11th century and have been assigned to the
reign of Anawrahta (1044-1077). The Western pagoda is better
preserved and has a bell-shaped dome, with rings of moulding
at the middle and towards the base. An unusual feature of
the dome is the four deep niches at the cardinal points to
house images of the Buddha. A damaged bowl-shaped disc rests
on the dome in the Western Pagoda, while in the Eastern
Pagoda a box-like relic chamber occupies the corresponding
position. The finial, which rises above, is in the form of a
Masterpieces of lacquer ware have been the pride of Bagan
since the days of the Bagan Empire. It is still the main
industry of Bagan today and you can observe the making
process of lacquer ware from the beginning to the finished
products ready for sale at the shops. Lacquer ware like
bowls, boxes, trays and paintings are the best souvenirs of
Resting on a platform, the temple is square in plan, with
porches projecting on all four sides, and with the main
entrance in the east. The superstructure consists of
receding terraces, with crenellated parapets and small
stupas at the corners, surmounted by a curvilinear spire,
which is crowned by a stupa.
The name Phayathonzu Temple was given because the three
pagodas of the same size, appearance and height existed on
the same plinth. It is adorned with paintings of the 550
Jataka stories and ten other depictions plus small
Thambuddhay figures. The frescoes and architecture are
guessed to be of the late 13th century.
It was first built by King Anawrahta, the founder
of the First Myanmar Empire, and completed by King
Kyansittha in 1084. Shwezigon Pagoda is the prototype for
succeeding generations of pagodas in Myanmar. There are
green glazed plaques depicting scenes from the Jatakas. The
pagoda festival is held from late October till early
world's smallest photo lab in (Shewezigion Pagoda)
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© 1999 Myriam Grest Thein