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.
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,