Dawn to Dusk from Pyathada Pagoda ~ Bagan Temples, Myanmar

Ananda Temple is flood-lit against the night sky, Bagan Myanmar

Bagan under Lights
It is still dark as we leave our hotel in Old Bagan. On the way to our sun-rise viewing point, we drive past the beautiful Ananda Temple, flood-lit against the night sky.

I’ve said it before (A Living Landscape)Bagan is a magic place.

And, it is amazing how much you can pack into a single day around Bagan – if you get up long before dawn, and return to your room well after dark.

The city served as the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan: the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later become Myanmar as we now know it. In the mid 9th century, it was the central power base of Burmese Buddhism under King Anawratha. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, especially, the kingdom flourished, and over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries were built. “It is estimated that as many as 13,000 temples and stupas once stood on this 42 sq km plain in central Myanmar…” They were lovingly decorated with paintings, carvings and engravings depicting stories from the life of the Buddha, and filled with flowers and fabrics and examples of Burmese crafts.

Many of the religious buildings were constructed of wood – and those buildings have not survived. Even those built of clay and brick have been damaged by earthquakes and the passage of time. Still, the roughly 2200 temples and pagodas that remain today in various states of disrepair are a magnificent sight dotted over the plains in the ever-changing light.

With the benefit of a small bus at our command, and a guide (Mr MM) to get us to the right place at the right time, Photo-Tour leader Karl Grobl, myself and my nine companions, crammed a lot of activity into our limited time.

We started our day before sunrise at Pyathada Phaya (also spelled Pyathadar, Pyathatgyi, or Pyatthada). Pyathada Pagoda is a popular viewing spot – especially at sunset – because its open terrace and upper deck allows a 360° panorama over the plains.

Bagan Predawn from Pyathada Pagoda

Predawn from Pyathada Pagoda
Pagodas on the Bagan Plains stand out against the pre-dawn sky.

View from Pyathada Pagoda of pagodas at dawn, Bagan

Sun Rising from Pyathada Pagoda
The skies are dramatic as the light creeps over the horizon.

View from Pyathada Pagoda of pagodas at dawn, Bagan

Pink Skies from Pyathada Pagoda
The light rises quickly…

Dawn from Pyathada Pagoda

Dawn from Pyathada Pagoda
… changing the appearance of the surrounding pagodas dramatically.

A burmese man stands against Pyathada Pagoda in the morning.

Our guide surveys the horizon from Pyathada Pagoda.

A man setting up a tripod shot,  Pyathada Pagoda Bagan

Tripod Shots
Mr MM watches as a group participant sets up a shot.

Laterite brick piles at the base of Pyathada Pagoda, Bagan

Pyathada Pagoda
At ground level, the ruins of the temples make wonderful surroundings. With more time, it would be interesting to explore the plains further on foot.

Bagan from Pyathada Pagoda

Pyathada Temple was started during the later period of temple building in Bagan. This huge, Indian-influenced pagoda features impressive arches vaulting over broad corridors and halls

Dark portrait of a Burmese man, Pyathada Pagoda Bagan

On the ground floor of the temple, we met the man who looks after the shrines…

Seated stone painted Buddha in a dark hall, Pyathada

Pyathada Buddha
… and the buddhas sheltered in the stone-arched vaults.

Head of a painted buddha in a dark cavern, Pyathadar (Pyathatgyi) Bagan

Pyathada (Pyathatgyi) Buddha

Four novices with begging bowls in the causeway, Shwezigon, Bagan

Four Novices
Once the sun was fully up, we drove off to visit the beautiful Shwezigon Pagoda. (See the Blog Post: Novices and Nuns) 

Burmese women seated on bamboo matting etching designs into lacquerware, U Ba Nyein Bagan

Etching Lacquerware
Our next stop was at a handicraft workshop, where high quality lacquerware is still produced in the traditional manner. (See the Blog Post: Etching U Ba Nyein Lacquerware)

Golden roof of Ananda Temple against a blue sky, Bagan

Ananda Temple
After lunch, we explored the fully-restored Ananda Temple – the “Westminster Abbey of Burma” –
(For the Blog Post, see: Ananda Temple)

Goats and Cows and Temple

Goats and Cows and Temple
… before watching the cow- and goat-herders bring their flocks home through the dusty fields.
(For the Blog Post, see: Plains of Bagan)

Shinbinthalyaung and Shwesandaw Pagoda on the plains of Bagan

Pagodas on the Plains
Late afternoon, we returned to Pyathada Pagoda to watch the light fade over the plains. Shinbinthalyaung and Shwesandaw Pagodas stand out from the flat lands in the late afternoon sun.

Cows on the Bagan Plains

Cows on the Bagan Plains

Dhammayazika Pagoda on the Horizon

Dhammayazika Pagoda on the Horizon
Golden in the afternoon light

Sulamani Temple in afternoon light, Bagan

Sulamani Temple

Towards the Irrawaddy River

Towards the Irrawaddy River

Tourists on the Roof

Tourists on the Roof

Across the Bagan Plains

Across the Bagan Plains

Sunset Over The Bagan Plains

Sunset Over The Plains

Moon sliver against a dark sky, Pyathadar Temple

Pyathadar Temple
Moon sliver against a dark sky,

Text: Happy Rambles, Ursula :-)

All too soon, it was too dark to see.

We turned on our flashlights and headlamps before making our way carefully down the ancient steps and heading home for the night, after a richly rewarding day.

‘Till next time,

Happy Rambles!

Pictures: 18September2012

  • Karl Grobl - August 15, 2014 - 2:19 am

    wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!
    By the way, in my most recent blog post about Battambang, I linked back to your excellent reportage on the Bamboo train, and in doing so I re-read and re-lived the fun we had that day! Cheers, KarlReplyCancel

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