Daily Archives: February 19, 2015

exploring bagan by car: nyaung u & back to the central plain for sunset {part 4 of 4}

Thursday, February 19:  After leaving the Bagan Viewing Tower, my driver takes me to the Nyaung U area to visit the enormous gold-plated zedi, or stupa, known as Shwezigon Paya. It was built by King Anawrahta, who founded the Bagan Kingdom in 1044.   The King built it to enshrine several Buddha relics, including a “copy of the sacred tooth relic of Kandy in Sri Lanka. According to legend, the spot where the pagoda was to be built was chosen by a white elephant carrying the relic on his back. Construction started around 1059, the pagoda was completed at the end of the 11th century during the reign of King Kyanzittha” (Renown Travel: Shwezigon Pagoda).

Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

monks at Shwezigon Paya

monks at Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

Before Buddhism was introduced to Bagan, Burmese people were generally either Nat worshippers or alchemists, according to The Temple Trail: Shwezigon.  According to Wikipedia: nat (spirit): nats are spirits worshiped in pre-Buddhist Myanmar. They are divided between the 37 Great Nats and all the rest (i.e., spirits of trees, water, etc.). Almost all of the 37 Great Nats were human beings who met violent deaths.

King Anawrahta allowed the images of the 37 most highly venerated Nats to be put on the lower terraces of the Shwezigon Pagoda. The Nat images have since been moved and can now be found inside a small hall next to the platform. Nat worship is still very much alive in current day Myanmar (Renown Travel: Shwezigon Pagoda).  Below are some of the nats in the hut at Shwezigon Paya.

horseman at Shwezigon Paya

horseman at Shwezigon Paya

figures at Shwezigon Paya

figures at Shwezigon Paya

figures at Shwezigon Paya

figures at Shwezigon Paya

I walk all around the beautiful Pagoda, glowing in the late afternoon sun.

Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

Shwezigon Paya

I also get glimpses of some monks strolling around the pagoda.

monks at Shwezigon Paya

monks at Shwezigon Paya

Buddha figure at Shwezigon Paya

Buddha figure at Shwezigon Paya

The driver takes me back to the Central Plain to see sunset at Pyathada Paya, a 13th-century temple that has Bagan’s largest open terrace, perfect for sunset-viewing.  I can see the temples dotting the plain before me.

Central Plain of Bagan from Pyathada Paya

Central Plain of Bagan from Pyathada Paya

standing atop Pyathada Paya

standing atop Pyathada Paya

Central Plain of Bagan

Central Plain of Bagan

Central Plain of Bagan

Central Plain of Bagan

I chat briefly with a man from north of San Francisco who traveled two weeks in Thailand and two weeks in Cambodia before coming to Myanmar. Like me, he’s loving Myanmar so far.

temples on the Central Plain of Bagan

temples on the Central Plain of Bagan

As I’m watching the sun go down, I see a caravan kicking up dust on the plain.  As it gets closer, I can see the chaotic group consists of cattle, tour buses, cars, SUVs, motorbikes, horse-drawn carriages, walkers and bicyclists.  Yet another thing I love about Myanmar: the blend of the modern with the traditional and surprises around every corner. 🙂

Central Plain of Bagan

Central Plain of Bagan

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paintings for sale

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sand paintings for sale

Central Plain of Bagan

Central Plain of Bagan

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controlled chaos on the plains

controlled chaos on the plains

sunset on the Central Plain of Bagan

sunset on the Central Plain of Bagan

cattle drive

cattle drive

cattle & cars kicking up dust on the Central Plain

cattle & cars kicking up dust on the Central Plain

After sunset, the driver takes me back to my hotel.  I’m exhausted from this day of visiting 20 places: one village, one viewing tower, and 18 temples!  After settling in briefly at the hotel, I walk down the street to Mother’s House, where I enjoy a dinner of fried noodles with vegetables and a Myanmar beer.

IMG_5110

Mother’s House

Tomorrow, I plan to rent a motor scooter for the day to explore more of Bagan’s thousands of temples.

Categories: Asia, Bagan, Central Plain, Myanmar, Nyaung U, Pyathada Paya, Shwezigon Paya, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

exploring bagan by car: the central & south plains {part 3 of 4}

Thursday, February 19:  In Bagan’s Central Plain, we go to Dhammayangyi Pahto, a sprawling, walled 12th-century temple that is visible from all parts of Bagan.  It apparently has a cruel history.  It’s said that King Narathu built the temple (between 1167 and 1170 AD) to atone for his sins: he smothered his father, poisoned his brother and strangled one of his wives, an Indian princess, for practicing Hindu rituals.  The temple was never completed and many passageways are walled off today.

Dhammayanngyi Pahto

Dhammayanngyi Pahto

vendors at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

vendors at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

According to MyanmarBurma.com: Dhammayangyi Pahto, the king required that bricks were to be placed so tightly that mortar was unnecessary. If even a pin could be inserted between the bricks, responsible masons were either executed or had their arms cut off.

King Narathu was assassinated in 1170, perhaps by his father-in-law in retribution for the princess’ murder, and the workers stopped laying bricks. The inner passages of the temple are stoned in and some people believe that the workers filled them in with rubble on purpose after the king’s death.

Buddha at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

Buddha at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

According to Lonely Planet Myanmar, “others quietly argue the temple dates from the earlier reign of Alaungsithu, which would refute all this fun legend behind it.  It’s also likely that this bricking up of the passages was a crude way of ensuring the massive structure didn’t collapse.”

Buddha at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

Buddha at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

sleeping baby at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

sleeping baby at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

entrance to Dhammayanngyi Pahto

entrance to Dhammayanngyi Pahto

Buddha at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

Buddha at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

The western shrine “features two original side-by-side images of Gautama and Maitreya, the historical and future Buddhas.  This is the only Bagan site with two side-by-side Buddhas” (Lonely Planet Myanmar).

side-by-side Buddhas at Dhammayanngyi Pahto: Gautama and Maitreya

side-by-side Buddhas at Dhammayanngyi Pahto: Gautama and Maitreya

monks walk past the side-by-side Buddhas at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

monks walk past the side-by-side Buddhas at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

In the dark reaches of the temple, some of the stucco reliefs and paintings are still intact.

frescoes at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

frescoes at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

frescoes at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

frescoes at Dhammayanngyi Pahto

Gautama and Maitreya

Gautama and Maitreya

Next we head to Minnanthu Village, an agricultural village which specializes in sesame and peanut oil production.

Dhammayanngyi Pahto

a temple on the outskirts of Minnanthu Village

My driver drops me with a local guide, who takes me around the village.

my guide to the village of Minnathu

my guide to the village of Minnanthu

We walk around and she tells me how the village produces sesame oil and peanut oil, and makes jam from sour fruit.

It’s quite hot at this time of day, around 2:30 p.m. and it seems life in the village has slowed to a long extended nap.

walking through Minnathu Village

walking through Minnanthu Village

pretty entryway at Minnathu Village

pretty entryway at Minnanthu Village

my guide at Minnathu Village

my guide at Minnanthu Village

naptime in Minnathu Village

naptime in Minnanthu Village

still life in Minnathu Village

still life in Minnanthu Village

beasts of burden at Minnathu Village

beasts of burden at Minnanthu Village

drying nuts at Minnathu Village

drying nuts at Minnanthu Village

Minnathu Village

Minnanthu Village

colorful house at Minnathu Village

colorful house at Minnanthu Village

workshop at Minnathu Village

workshop at Minnanthu Village

The village is also known for its cotton-weaving.  My guide demonstrates the process.

weaving at Minnathu Village

weaving at Minnanthu Village

strands

strands of cotton

still life at Minnathu Village

still life at Minnanthu Village

As I head back to my driver, a guy with a scarf over his face buzzes into the village on a motorbike, kicking up a tornado of dust.  He is lost and asks my guide for directions.  Then he takes off in another cloud of dust.

Our next stop is Payathonzu, meaning Three Stupas.  It’s a complex of three interconnected shrines.  According to Wikipedia: Payathonzu Temple, the “interior of the temple contains frescoes, believed to be Mahayana and Tantric in style. However, the temple was not completed. The temple was recently renovated, with the completion of the three stupas atop the temple, which are lighter in color.”

Payathonzu Phaya

Payathonzu Phaya

vendors at Payathonzu Phaya

vendors at Payathonzu Phaya

No photography is allowed inside the shrine, but inside are white-washed walls and “vaguely Chinese- or Tibetan- looking mural paintings that contain Bodhisattva figures” (Lonely Planet Myanmar).

Payathonzu Phaya

Payathonzu Phaya

Just north of Payathonzu is Thambula Pahto, a square temple decorated with fading Jataka frescoes.  It was built in 1255 by Thambula, the wife of King Uzana.

Thambula Pahto

Thambula Pahto

Thambula Pahto

Thambula Pahto

Thambula Pahto

Thambula Pahto

Thambula Pahto

Thambula Pahto

Thambula Pahto

view of an adjacent temple from Thambula Pahto

Buddha at Thambula Pahto

Buddha at Thambula Pahto

The Jataka frescoes are intricately detailed and beautifully done.

faded Jataka frescoes at Thambula Pahto

faded Jataka frescoes at Thambula Pahto

Jataka frescoes at Thambula Pahto

Jataka frescoes at Thambula Pahto

Nandamannya Pahto, a small, single-chambered temple, dates from the mid-13th century.  It has fine frescoes and a ruined seated Buddha image; its murals are similar to those at Payathonzu and some art historians believe they may have been painted by the same artist (Lonely Planet: Myanmar: Nandamannya Pahto).

Nandamannya Pahto

Nandamannya Pahto

The temple’s mural of the ‘Temptation of Mara’ is its claim to fame; in the painting, “nubile young females (vainly) attempt to distract the Buddha from the meditation session that led to his enlightenment” (Lonely Planet: Myanmar: Nandamannya Pahto).  It was once thought to be shockingly erotic, but not by today’s standards.  Sadly, no photography was allowed inside the temple.

Iza Gawna Pagoda is our next stop, but I can’t find any information about it.

Iza Gawna Pagoda

Iza Gawna Pagoda

Iza Gawna Pagoda

Iza Gawna Pagoda

Buddha at Iza Gawna Pagoda

Buddha at Iza Gawna Pagoda

Buddha at Iza Gawna Pagoda

Buddha at Iza Gawna Pagoda

Iza Gawna Pagoda

Iza Gawna Pagoda

Iza Gawna Pagoda

Iza Gawna Pagoda

Buddha at Iza Gawna Pagoda

Buddha at Iza Gawna Pagoda

Finally, we head to the Bagan Viewing Tower, also known as Bagan Nan Myint Tower.  The tower was built to “provide a high-rise vantage point for the public without interfering adversely with the Bagan skyline and secondly to help preserve cultural heritage by providing an alternative viewing point to the tops of the crumbling ancient pagodas” (BaganMyanmar.com: Bagan Nan Myint Tower).

Bagan Viewing Tower

Bagan Viewing Tower

I climb to the top, where I have amazing views of the Bagan South Plain.  As it is after 4:00 in the afternoon and the sun is low in the sky, the views opposite the sun are the best for photos.

View of the Minnathu Village area from the Bagan Viewing Tower

View of the Minnathu Village area from the Bagan Viewing Tower

the South Plain of Bagan

the South Plain of Bagan

Tayoke Pyae Temple

Tayoke Pyae Temple

Tayoke Pyae Temple

Tayoke Pyae Temple

South Plain of Bagan

South Plain of Bagan

While atop the Viewing Tower, I meet Marsha from Baltimore, Maryland, who is here visiting with wealthy friends.  She is staying at the fancy resort, Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort Bagan, shown below. She talks on and on for quite some time about her friends and family, telling me all the details of her holiday.

Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort Bagan

Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort Bagan

After leaving the Bagan Viewing Tower at about 4:30, we head to the Nyaung U area to see Shwezigon Paya and then on to Pyathada Paya for sunset.

 

 

Categories: Asia, Bagan, Bagan Nan Myint Tower, Bagan Viewing Tower, Burma, Central Plain, Dhammayanngyi Pahto, Iza Gawna Pagoda, Myanmar, Nandamannya Pahto, Payathonzu, South Plain, Thambula Pahto, Travel, Village of Minnathu | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

exploring bagan by car: old bagan & the north plain {part 2 of 4}

Thursday, February 19:  After we finish our tour of the Myinkaba area, we head next to Old Bagan.  Our first stop is Bupaya on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River.  This small pagoda has a bulbous shaped dome, and is widely believed to have been built by the third King of Bagan (formerly Pagan), Pyusawhti, who ruled from 168 to 243 AD.  As the bulbous-shaped dome resembles a pumpkin or gourd, it was named “bu” which means pumpkin or gourd, and “paya” which means pagoda (Wikipedia: Bupaya Pagoda).

The main pavilion at the entrance is guarded by white and gold Chinthes, Burmese mythological lions.

Entrance to Bupaya on the banks of the Ayeyarwady

Entrance to Bupaya on the banks of the Ayeyarwady

In 1975, a severe earthquake caused the original Bupaya to fall into the Irrawaddy River.

Bupaya

Bupaya

guardians of Bupaya

a white and gold Chinthe, a Burmese mythological lion, guardian of Bupaya

The Pyu-style monument is modeled on an Indian style.  It was rebuilt after the earthquake as a gilded structure with modern materials.

Bupaya's cylindrical Pyu-style stupa from the 3rd century

Bupaya’s cylindrical Pyu-style stupa from the 3rd century

Buddha at Bupaya

Buddha at Bupaya

Legend has it that Pyusawhti, before he was King, managed to free the Bagan Kingdom of five nuisances, one of which was the infestation of the Irrawaddy river banks by the bu, a kind of gourd plant. As a reward he was given the hand of the King’s daughter. It is said that when he became King, he built the pagoda at the spot where the bu plant was eradicated. Buddhist relics were enshrined in the pagoda (Renown Travel: Bupaya Pagoda).

boats lined up on the banks of the Ayeyarwady - view from Bupaya

boats lined up on the banks of the Ayeyarwady – view from Bupaya

Buddha at Bupaya

Buddha at Bupaya

another guardian at Bupaya

another guardian at Bupaya

My driver takes me next to Mahabodhi Paya, modeled after the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India, which commemorates the seven sacred places where Buddha attained enlightenment.  The temple is built in an architectural style typical during the Gupta period, and contains a large pyramidal tower with many niches containing over 450 images of Buddha (Wikipedia: Mahabodhi Temple, Bagan).

Mahabodhi Paya

Mahabodhi Paya

Mahabodhi Paya

Mahabodhi Paya

On the ground floor is a Buddha image with the right hand in earth-touching posture (BaganMyanmar.com: Maha Bodhi Temple).

Buddha at Mahabodhi Paya

Buddha at Mahabodhi Paya

I didn’t take pictures of all the weeks of the Buddha’s enlightenment, but here are a couple:

  • “The Second Week, Buddha Gazed Intently Without Winking On Animisa At His Throne Under the Bodhi Tree.”
  • “The Fourth Week, Buddha Spent In The House Of Gems, Ratanag’hara, N.W. Of The Bodhi Tree, Meditating The Abidhamma.”
  • “The Seventh Week, The Two Merchants Tapussa and Bhallika Offered The Rice Cakes and Honey To The Buddha Under The Rajayatana Tree At The End of The Seven Weeks.”

Mahabodhi Paya has hundreds of niches with Buddha statues in different postures – sitting, standing and reclining.

Mahabodhi Paya details

Mahabodhi Paya details

niches at Mahabodhi Paya

niches at Mahabodhi Paya

After we leave Mahabodhi Paya, the driver takes me to the Shwe Wah Thein Myanmar Handicraft Shop, telling me it’s a lacquerware workshop.  It isn’t a workshop at all but just a shop, so I walk quickly through.

Shwe Wah Thein Myanmar Handicraft Shop

Shwe Wah Thein Myanmar Handicraft Shop

Puppets at the Handicraft shop

Puppets at the Handicraft shop

We drive to the North Plain to see Htilominlo Pahto at this time. This temple was built around 1211 by King Htilominlo, also known as King Nadaungmya and several other names. It is made of red brick and stone and stands 150 ft (46 m) high on a low platform.

Htilominlo Pahto

Htilominlo Pahto

Buddha at Htilominlo Pahto

Buddha at Htilominlo Pahto

inside Htilominlo Pahto

inside Htilominlo Pahto

There are four Buddhas images on the ground floor that face the four cardinal directions.

Buddha at Htilominlo Pahto

Buddha at Htilominlo Pahto

niche at Htilominlo Pahto

niche at Htilominlo Pahto

flowers for the Buddha

flowers for the Buddha

offerings for Buddha

offerings for Buddha

Htilominlo Pahto

Htilominlo Pahto

This temple is referred to in Lonely Planet Myanmar as “vendor central” as there are scores of vendors here. I can’t resist buying some things: 3 pairs of cotton printed pants ($3 each!) and a life of Buddha fold-out accordion-like pictogram.

Vendor Central at Htilominlo Pahto

Vendor Central at Htilominlo Pahto

Vendor Central at Htilominlo Pahto

Vendor Central at Htilominlo Pahto

Htilominlo Pahto

Htilominlo Pahto

Behind Htilominlo Pahto is a monastery. I climb up with some other tourists for a great view of Htilominlo Pahto.

view of Htilominlo Pahto from the monastery out back

view of Htilominlo Pahto from the monastery out back

There are also some smaller temples in the North Plain that we can see.

view of some minor temples from the monastery

view of some minor temples from the monastery

view of Htilominlo Pahto from the monastery out back

view of Htilominlo Pahto from the monastery out back

me at the monastery out back with Htilominlo Pahto behind me

me at the monastery out back with Htilominlo Pahto behind me

After leaving Htilominlo Pahto, my driver takes me to have some lunch at a lovely open-air restaurant called Sarabha I, where I have a tasty lunch of cauliflower and snow peas.

After lunch we continue seeing the sights on the North Plain by heading to Ananda Pahto. This is the first of the great temples in Bagan, as well as being one of the largest and most beautiful.  It was built by King Kyanzittha around 1090-1105, after he was inspired by eight visiting Indian monks who told of their lives in the Nanadamula Cave in the Himalayas. After they described the cave in great detail during a meditative state, they subsequently built the temple.  It didn’t end well for the monks, however, as the king executed them so they wouldn’t be able to build another temple like it anywhere.  This insured the temple’s uniqueness (Sacred Destinations: Ananda Pahto Temple, Bagan and Wikipedia: Ananda Temple).

Inside Ananda Pahto

Inside Ananda Pahto

A small nut-like object held in the hand of the east-facing Buddha and in the hand of the figure below is thought to resemble an herbal pill, and may represent the Buddha offering dhamma (Buddhist teachings) as a cure for suffering (Sacred Destinations: Ananda Pahto Temple, Bagan and Lonely Planet Myanmar: Ananda Pahto).

figure holding a nut-like object

figure holding a nut-like object

the nut-like object, possibly representing a herbal pill

the nut-like object, possibly representing a herbal pill

Four impressive 30-foot-tall gilded teak standing Buddhas, facing the four cardinal directions, represent the four Buddhas who have attained enlightenment in the current world cycle.

The main purpose of the temple was to educate the people of the region in the religious beliefs of Theravada Buddhism in accordance with the personal beliefs of King Kyanzittha (Wikipedia: Ananda Temple).

gilded sitting Buddhas

gilded sitting Buddhas

Chinthe at Ananda Pahto

Chinthe at Ananda Pahto

Ananda Pahto is designed on a symmetrical Greek Cross plan (+).  Several terraces lead to a small pagoda at the top covered by an umbrella known as hti, which is the name of the umbrella or top ornament found in almost all pagodas in Myanmar (Wikipedia: Ananda Temple).

Ananda Pahto

Ananda Pahto

Ananda Pahto

Ananda Pahto

Finally, we leave the North Plain and drive back to Old Bagan to see Thatbyinnyu Pahto, Bagan’s highest temple, at 61 meters in height.

Thatbyinnyu Pahto

Thatbyinnyu Pahto

It was built in the mid-12th century during the reign of King Alaungsithu.  It is adjacent to Ananda Pahto. Thatbyinnyu Temple is shaped like a cross, but it isn’t symmetrical. The temple has two primary stories, with the seated Buddha image located on the second story (Wikipedia: Thatbyinnyu Temple).

Thatbyinnyu Pahto

Thatbyinnyu Pahto

Buddha at Thatbyinnyu Pahto

Buddha at Thatbyinnyu Pahto

at Thatbyinnyu Pahto

at Thatbyinnyu Pahto

the white boxy stories of Thatbyinnyu Pahto

the white boxy stories of Thatbyinnyu Pahto

I come upon a group of monks posing for a picture and I sneak a shot from the back.  When they disperse, I capture a couple of them walking into the temple.

monks posing for pictures at Thatbyinnyu Pahto

monks posing for pictures at Thatbyinnyu Pahto

monks at Thatbyinnyu Pahto

monks at Thatbyinnyu Pahto

Finally, we leave Old Bagan and head to the Central and South Plain.

Categories: Ananda Pahto, Asia, Ayeyarwady River, Bagan, Bupaya, Burma, Htilominlo Pahto, Irrawaddy River, Mahabodhi Paya, Myanmar, North Plain, Old Bagan, Sarabha I, Shwe Wah Thein Myanmar Handicraft Shop, Thatbyinnyu Pahto | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

exploring bagan by car: the myinkaba area {part 1 of 4}

Thursday, February 19:  This morning, I enjoy a buffet breakfast in the courtyard of my hotel, the Floral Breeze.  It’s a lovely spot with a pool and gardens, and luckily it’s not too hot at this time of year.

in the courtyard of the Floral Breeze Hotel

in the courtyard of the Floral Breeze Hotel

The pool at the Floral Breeze

The pool at the Floral Breeze

At breakfast, I see a couple of groups from yesterday’s 12-hour boat ride down the Ayeyarwady, and we acknowledge each other as having shared a common experience.

Outdoor breakfast dining at the Floral Breeze

Outdoor breakfast dining at the Floral Breeze

The Floral Breeze Hotel

The Floral Breeze Hotel

I hire a car from the hotel to take me to the most important temples in Bagan from 9 a.m. until after sunset.  The charge is 35,000 kyat, around $35.  Little do I know we will be on the go all day and I will stop at 20 temples.  I don’t mind because I want to make sure I see the most famous temples.  Tomorrow, I plan to rent an electric bike and ride in a more leisurely fashion through the plains.

Bagan’s kings commissioned over 4,000 Buddhist temples in a 230 year period ending in 1287 with the Mongol invasions. While the 11th- to 13th-century wooden buildings have long disappeared, the brick and stucco temples are all that remain of their grand city.  During this time, the region’s beliefs transitioned from Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist beliefs to the Theravada Buddhist beliefs that have since defined Myanmar. King Anawrahta, newly converted by a monk sent by Manuha, the Mon King of Thaton, took his religious beliefs to a feverish level, going on a building spree until “The First Burmese Empire” was created (Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma)).

Historians disagree about what caused Bagan’s rapid decline in the 13th century.   Some believe it was the Mongol invasions sent by Kublai Khan, and others believe that threats from China sent Bagan’s rulers into a panic.  Frequent earthquakes, general weathering and neglect also contributed to the city’s decline (Lonely Planet Bagan).

Our first stop today is Nagayon Guphaya.  The main Buddha image is double life-size and sits under the head of a huge naga (dragon serpent).

Nagayon Guphaya

Nagayon Guphaya

Nagayon Guphaya

Nagayon Guphaya

Nagayon

Nagayon

Nagayon

Nagayon

Nagayon

Nagayon

My driver takes me to the entrances of the temples and leaves me to explore. He is wearing the male version of the longyi (skirt), called paso, with a button-down shirt and a suit jacket, a little too much for the rapidly warming day.  His teeth are quite horrible and stained as he is constantly chewing betel and spitting it out the window and onto the ground.

My driver today

My driver today

We go next to Nanpaya Temple. According to tradition, it was used as the captive Mon king Manuha’s residence.  Built of brick and mud mortar and surfaced with stone, it is square in plan with a porch projecting on the east face.  Like other earlier temples at Bagan, it has perforated stone windows to admit light into the building (Myanmar Tours US: Nanpaya Temple).

Nanpaya Temple

Nanpaya Temple

Flanking the sanctuary in the main building are four stone pillars. On the sides of each of them are carved triangular floral designs and the figures of the Brahma holding lotus flowers in each hand.

Nanpaya Temple

Nanpaya Temple

Nanpaya Temple

Nanpaya Temple

Manuha Paya sits in Myinkaba village.  Though it looks modern, it dates back to 1059.  It’s named after Manuha, the Mon King from Thaton, who was held captive here by King Anawrahta.

Nanpaya Temple

Manuha Paya

at Nanpaya Temple

at Manuha Paya

vendors at Nanpaya Temple

vendors at Manuha Paya

In the front of the building are three seated Buddhas.  They all seem too large for the small spaces that enclose them, representing the stress and endurance the king had to endure (Lonely Planet Myanmar).

Buddha at Manuha Paya

Buddha at Manuha Paya

Buddha at Manuha Paya

Buddha at Manuha Paya

Manuha Paya

a teak building beside Manuha Paya

In the back of Manuha Paya is a huge reclining Buddha with a smile on his face.  He is supposedly in the act of entering parinibbana (final passing away), showing that for King Manuha, death was the only release from his suffering (Lonely Planet Myanmar).

reclining Buddha at Manuha Paya

reclining Buddha at Manuha Paya

reclining Buddha at Manuha Paya

reclining Buddha at Manuha Paya

a reclining Buddha's feet at Manuha Paya

a reclining Buddha’s feet at Manuha Paya

Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Manuha Paya

We go next to Gubyauk Gyi, or Great Painted Cave Temple, built in A. D. 1113 by Prince Yaza Kumaya.  It’s a cave pagoda with a gold finial and a gold image of Buddha.  Inside, it’s very dark and gloomy, and there are richly colored murals painted on the walls that are thought to date to the time of the original construction.

When I go inside, a man holding a lamp takes me around the temple and tells me all the stories of Buddha that are painted on the walls. The stories are fascinating, as are the murals.

Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Stupa at Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Stupa at Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Stupas at Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Stupas at Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Buddha at Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

Buddha at Gubyauk Gyi (Myinkaba)

The man who told me the stories of the paintings in Gubyauk Gyi accompanies me next door to Myazedi, or the Emerald Stupa.

me at Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

me at Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

On a four-sided pillar in a cage between Gubyauk Gyi and Myazedi is the Myazedi Inscription.  Inscribed in 1113, it is the oldest surviving stone inscription of the Burmese.  The inscriptions were made in four languages: Burmese, Pyu, Mon, and Pali; they all tell the story of Prince Yazakumar and King Kyansittha. It is linguistically and historically significant because it shows the Pyu cultural influence on Bagan.  The Myazedi inscription serves as a kind of “Rosetta Stone,” allowing for the deciphering of the written Pyu language (Wikipedia: Myazedi Inscription and Lonely Planet Myanmar).

The Myazedi Inscription pillar

The Myazedi Inscription pillar

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

The man who has been explaining the murals’ and the Myazedi inscription’s significance shows me some Buddha images representing the seven days of the week. He tells me I should find the one representing my birthday and pour water over it, saying a prayer or a wish.  I pour water over the Tuesday Buddha.

I pour water on the Tuesday Buddha

I pour water on the Tuesday Buddha

From what I’ve read about the seven Buddha images, the Tuesday image should be a reclining Buddha, but this one isn’t.

the Tuesday Buddha

the Tuesday Buddha

Myazedi (Emerald Stupa)

Gubyauk Gyi

The man, who has been very kind and informative, and who speaks excellent English, asks me if I will come to his shop to have a look at his sand paintings.  Ah, now I know why he’s been so generous with his time.  He shows me the process of sand painting, and then asks me if I’d like to buy one of his paintings.  This is my first encounter with sand paintings, and I like them very much.  In fact, I buy one for 15,000 kyat, and then another for 12,000.  Later, as I see vendors galore selling sand paintings, I realize I jumped the gun and probably could have gotten them for a lot cheaper.  Oh well, the man really was great spending so much time explaining everything to me. 🙂

paint for sand paintings

paint for sand paintings

paint

paint

sand paintings

sand paintings

artist with sand paintings

artist with sand paintings

Now my driver takes me to Old Bagan to explore more of Bagan’s thousands of temples.

Categories: Bagan, Burma, Gubyauk Gyi, Manuha Paya, Myanmar, Myazedi (Emerald Stupa), Myazedi Inscription, Myinkaba, Nagayon, Nanpaya | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

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