This once splendid and glorious capital of the First Myanmar Empire is now a 42sq.km area along the east bank of Ayeyarwaddy River. This plain dotted with thousands of ancient pagodas, shrines, ordination halls and monuments which are now in all stages of decay were erected mostly from the 11th to 13th centuries A.D. Tradition carried by the local chronicles, has it that a long line of fifty-five kings ruled over this kingdom during the twelve centuries.
Now, It is the most amazing site in Myanmar as in every direction we look, we will see ruins of all sizes huge and glorious towards the sky, and small, graceful pagodas & temples stand alone in the fields. Some come with all manner of historical tales, while others are identified only by a number. Time, man and nature, particularly earthquakes, have taken their roll but the most important monuments have been restored to their original grandeur. So, we can be specified as one of the richest archeological sites in South East Asia.
The monuments have the distinct features according to their period.
The golden Shwezigon Paya in Bagan is one of the most significant religious buildings in Myanmar, for it served as a prototype for later stupas built throughout the country and marked an important development in the relationship between traditional Burmese religion and Theravada Buddhism.
Ananda Pahto was the first of the great temples at Bagan and is one of the most largest and most beautiful. This symmetrical masterpiece was built around 1090 AD by a king inspired by tales of visiting Indian monks, this perfect proportioned temple heralds the stylistic end of the early Bagan period and the beginning of middle period. In 1990, on the 900th anniversary of the temple’s construction, the temple spires were gilded. The entranceways make the structure a perfect Greek cross. 9.5 m of 4 standing Buddha image are placing at the main pillar of each entrance.
Dhammayangyi Pahto is the largest temple at Bagan. The paramedical temple features very fine brickwork and an intriguing history: said to be built by a wicked king, the inner ambulatories may have been filled with rubble by spiteful workers after his death in about 1170 AD. It is similar to Ananda in plan, but it is bigger. There are four main entrances but only the outer corridors are accessible as the interior is blocked by brickworks for unknown reason. It has large porticoes in the centre of all four sides, forming the shape of Greek cross. The top of the central stupa crumbled in 1975 by earthquake and the upper top portion was unfinished yet.
Nathlaung Kyaung Temple is only surviving Hindu temple in Bagan. Dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, the square brick temple was built in the 10th or 11th century, making it one of the earliest temples at Bagan.
Gubyaukgyi Temple (11th century mural painting): This early period temple is also of particular interest for the well preserved paintings inside. The temple is typical of the Pyu or Early Bagan style in that the interior is dimly lit by perforated window. The fine stuccowork on its exterior walls is in particularly good condition.
Nanpaya Temple was constructed in the late 11th century. The masonry work – sandstone block facings integrated over a brick core – is particularly fine. Perforated stone windows are typical of early Bagan architecture. In the central sanctuary the four stone pillars have finely carved sandstone bas-relief figures of four faced Brahma, the creator deity is holding louts flowers, thought to be offerings to a free standing Buddha image.
Bagan offers various beauties of the sunrises and sunsets from different monuments. The sunset cruise is also recommended to contemplate the glimpses of Bagan. Exploring the glimpses of Bagan. Exploring this magical land by bicycles or horse carts will be one of the memorable experiences of the trip. However we recommend to do such experiences in the morning by sunrise time or in the late afternoon by sunset time in order to run away form the heat.
Imagine floating over thousands year old pagodas and the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River, as the sun sinks slowly behind distant mountains. Balloons over Bagan affords visitors a unique opportunity to see this ancient kingdom, as it ever has been before. The sunrise and sunset champagne flights last just under one hour and take off daily from October through to the end of March.
The balloons are guided by gentle winds not exceeding 15 mph, allowing passengers a serene and peaceful bird’s-eye-view of ancient temples drifting by. Using his skills, the pilot is able to guide the balloon to a gentle landing on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River, or in an open field, where the crew and the celebratory glass of champagne will be on hand.
The balloons are provided by Cameron Balloons Limited of the United Kingdom, the world’s largest manufacture of hot air balloons, and the manufactures of the Breitling Orbiter. Commercial Passenger Ballooning enjoys the highest safety record of all forms of air transport. However, in line with the most established UK balloon operations. Balloons over Bagan carries third party and passengers liability insurance of USD 2 million, reinsured through Lloyds of London. The team is also fully trained in first aid. There are four balloons operating at the moment. When we book the flights, we need to inform the passengers’ full names and their weights. Please kindly take note that Balloons over Bagan will not fly children under the age of 8 years. A child under the age of 16 years will only be flown if accompanied by a responsible adult, and the child is over 4’ 6” tall (or 137 cm).
After realizing the archeological monuments, please relax your mind by playing golf at Bagan Golf Club, it is open from 6 am to 6 pm, and is 18 holes course. Even though it is situated in the dried area, the green is acceptable for playing golf. The golf-set, the buggies, the umbrellas, the trolleys, the shoes and all the equipments for golfing are available for rent or sale.
Popa is about 50 kilometers from Bagan. Mount Popa is also known as an extinct volcano and the adobe of the 37 spirits. The Mount Popa is a distinctive mountain in this region. It is an old volcano forming the northern offshoot of the Bago Yoma mountain range, occupying the lower central region. The mountain is 4900 feet high above the sea-level.
Because of its previous volcanic eruption ( the last time was over two thousands and five hundred years ago), the soil is fertile and there are lots of trees, vegetables and fruits. Thus it can be defined as “ Oasis of the Dessert”.
Once we get to the base of the Mt. Popa cliff, we have to walk up over seven hundred steps. Even though we are tired, once we get on the top, the charming landscapes will await to relax the mind and body.
Mt. Popa hosts two major "Nat Pwe", spirit festival, in the month of May/ June and other in Nov/ Dec as major pilgrimage destinations.
Salay is a colorful old religious center in Central Myanmar it is about one & half hours south of Bagan.
In between visiting the numerous ancient monasteries, adorned with beautiful woodcarving, you can enjoy the beauty of this compact city of colonial buildings, monasteries and pagodas.
Visit the famous monastery "Yoke-Sone-Kyaung'' which is a cultural heritage site in Salay, which in situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. It is famous with its spectacular woodcarvings and also it is the native town of the famous writer Salay U Pone Nya during the time of the Myanmar Kings. Salay Yoke Sone Kyaung was built in AD 1882. There are very beautiful artistic work woodcarvings around it and also ancient Buddha image, utensils of Yadanabon 19 century period, and the museum of Myanmar famous writer U Pone Nya in Salay Yoke Sone Kyaung.
Shinbin Maha Laba Man Paya is located in Salay, the largest lacquer Buddha Image in Myanmar, said to date back to the 13th Century.
Pakkoku is also known as Pakhangyi. It is slightly upstream of Bagan, but on other bank about 42 kms, the old town of Pakkoku was contemporary of Bagan. It preserved monuments of time and in particular its walls. The two old pagodas of Shwegu and Thiho-Shin are also centers of local arts and crafts where are held of many festivals. Many old tombs on both sides of the walls can be seen. There is also a small museum of the place. One will discover the sites Buddhist of 13th and 14th centuries post Bagan period. In the city close to Pakangyi of the large monasteries are in activity, Kyaungdawgyi and the monastery of the 254 pillars.