Bagan mystique – the ruins of Bagan, Central Myanmar – Part I

“There is a country far nobler than any, a land that brings joy to the heart; and it is called Bagan.” This was inscribed on stone in the 14th century by order of a queen of the Pyina dynasty. Says the beautiful picture book titled ‘Bagan Mystique’ by Ma Thanegi that tries to dissect the history behind the mystical ruins that lay scattered in the central plains of Myanmar for centuries.

Bagan is an ancient city and its existence was noted by Chinese travelers as early as 1225 CE. Decades of military rule had isolated Myanmar from the rest of the world and these structures remained somewhat a mystery while the neighboring Angkor Wat hogged all the limelight. That is until Myanmar opened for tourism in 2011 after the military dictatorship partially came to an end. As soon as the floodgates of tourism are open, Bagan started receiving millions of tourists each year to gape at these architectural marvels that have stood their ground through centuries.

A devastating earthquake of 1975 destroyed many of these structures. However, a mighty 2230 of these pagodas, temples, monasteries and cave pagodas remain according to a 1993 census conducted by the Department of Archaeology. These structures are scattered across 16 square miles and evoke an imagery of surreal mysticism. Details are patchy but inscriptions found in various temple complexes suggest that construction of the oldest structured happened in the late 11th century.

The mystical Bagan is slowly gaining prominence as tourists are trickling in. Here are some of the pictures from the trip. The pictures are just so many they couldn’t be contained in one post. I will post the next instalment very soon.

A monk in contemplation
A monk in contemplation

 

A sand painter
A sand painter
A temple complex
A temple complex

 

An ornate signboard
An ornate signboard

 

Ananda Phaya
Ananda Phaya
Fresco at Apayathana
Fresco at Apayathana
Dhammayan Gyi
Dhammayan Gyi
Cycling is a preferred form of transportation
Cycling is a preferred form of transportation to visit the ruins
An apsara at the Apayadhana temple
An apsara at the Apayadhana temple
Htilminlo at sundwon
Htilminlo at sundwon
Horsecarts in front of ruins
Horsecarts in front of ruins
Htilminlo temple from a distance
Htilminlo temple from a distance
Hundreds of years have had the telling effect on the structures
Hundreds of years have had the telling effect on the structures
Little monks in contemplation
Little monks in contemplation

 

Also read my story in the February edition of Outlook Traveller that is on stands now.

Like what you see? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

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