Posts Tagged With: Central Plain

exploring bagan by e-bike: sulamani pahto, goat & cow encounters, more temples {& the flip-flop debacle – part 2}

Friday, February 20:  After leaving Shwe San Daw Pagoda, I zip on my e-bike to the fabulous Sulamani Pahto, built in 1181 by Narapatisithu (1174-1211), and known as the “Crowning Jewel.”  It was built after filling the concave ground where the king found a small ruby; one translation of Sulamani is “small ruby.”.  With its five doorways and lush grounds, it is one of my favorite temples in Bagan.

It is here, when I take off my flip-flops to leave at the door, that I notice something doesn’t seem right about them.  They’re blue, alright, but they have flimsier and shinier straps than mine.  Upon closer inspection, I realize they are not nearly as nice as my Havaianas; in fact they’re not my flip-flops at all!   I immediately jump to the conclusion that someone must have accidentally taken my Havaianas and left theirs behind at one of the earlier temples I visited.  I’m so disappointed because these are not as good as mine, and besides, my Havaianas have taken me all over the world.  I’m strangely attached to them, although, after all, they are simply cheap rubber flip-flops.  They can be easily replaced.  But.  Probably not here in Bagan!

Sulamani Pahto

Sulamani Pahto

After my initial shock and disappointment, I leave the flip-flops, along with all the others left by visitors, and go into Sulamani Pahto to explore the wonders within.

Sulamani Pahto

Sulamani Pahto

The inside is like an ancient art gallery, with sprawling frescos from the Konbaung period, as well as traces of earlier frescos.

Buddha in Sulamani Pahto

Buddha in Sulamani Pahto

frescoes in Sulamani Pahto

frescoes in Sulamani Pahto

Sulamani Pahto frescoes

Sulamani Pahto frescoes

reclining Buddha fresco in Sulamani Pahto

reclining Buddha fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco & Buddha in Sulamani Pahto

fresco & Buddha in Sulamani Pahto

Buddha in Sulamani Pahto

Buddha in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

Sulamani Pahto

Sulamani Pahto

Buddha in Sulamani Pahto

Buddha in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

fresco in Sulamani Pahto

I spend quite a long time exploring the inside of this temple and then decide it’s time to move on.

Sulamani Pahto

Sulamani Pahto

When I go back to pick up my second-hand flip-flops, I do so with a pang of sadness and nostalgia for my lost Havaianas, now on someone else’s feet.  I can’t help but look around through all the flip-flops lying about to see if I can find mine.  I’m unrealistically hoping that whoever has my flip-flops will be on the same circuit as I am, and we will be reunited.  Foolishly, I think fate will bring us back together.  I also can’t help myself from glancing surreptitiously at the other tourists’ feet to see if they are wearing my Havaianas.  But what is the point?  Even if I do see some that look like mine, am I really going to accuse that tourist of making off with my flip-flops?

Sulamani Pahto from afar

Sulamani Pahto from afar

Off on my e-bike again, I find myself in the midst of a herd of goats on the move.  I stop the bike and take pictures of them as they kick up dust around me.

mingling with the goats

mingling with the goats

the goatherd

the goat-herd

Next, I make a brief stop at the Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple.

Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple

Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple

Buddha in Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple

Buddha in Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple

the temple minder at Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple

the temple minder at Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple

I stop briefly to explore Temple #820, about which I know nothing.

Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple

#820 temple

Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple

#820

On the road again, I’m nearly overrun by a herd of cows kicking up dust.

mingling with cows

mingling with cows

cows on the move

cows on the move

cows in a dust storm

cows in a dust storm

cows on the plains

cows on the plains

cow friends

cow friends

cows going the wrong direction

cows going the wrong direction

cows and Suliman Pahto

cows and Sulamani Pahto

Last views of Suliman Pahto

Last views of Sulamani Pahto

Farewell to Suliman Pahto

Farewell to Sulamani Pahto

It’s so hot, dry and dusty here on the plains of Bagan that I’m feeling quite congested, especially being on the e-bike where I’m creating a mini-dust maelstrom wherever I go.  It’s no wonder I see people all over wearing bandanas around their faces.  I am coughing and hacking away and my eyes are filled with dust.  A thin layer of dirt has settled all over my clothes and body.  By now, it’s 1:30 in the afternoon, and I’m hungry and thirsty.  Though I thought I would pass a lot of restaurants along the way, I’ve hardly seen a one.  Thus, when I find this little hole in the wall, I’m thrilled to take a seat and order a lunch of tomato salad, vegetable soup and a bottle of lime juice.

Lunch time

Lunch time

a hole in the wall for lunch

a hole in the wall for lunch

The tomato salad isn’t like anything I would have imagined, and the soup is rather tasteless, but that lime juice really hits the spot.

tomato salad and vegetable soup

tomato salad and vegetable soup

After lunch, as I have to head back down the long road to Old Bagan, I decide maybe I’ll stop back by the “many elephants temple” in the small hope that I will find my flip-flops there.  When I get to the temple, not a soul is in sight, but there, sitting in the dust near the entrance, are a pair of blue flip-flops.  My heart skitters with hope as I approach.  When I get to them, I see that, voila, they are my Havaianas!!  The universe has worked to reunite us, and I feel like we are meant to be together.  Nothing can separate us now. 🙂

But.  It hits me.   The fact that my Havaianas are there means that it wasn’t someone else who took off with my flip-flops, it was ME who took off with someone else’s flip-flops!  Ouch.  Since my Havaianas are here, all alone in the dust, that means the person whose flip-flops I took must have had to leave in bare feet!  I feel so bad!!  What can I do?  I leave the other person’s flip-flops there, take my Havaianas, and off I go, hoping that poor barefooted person will come back and be happily reunited with her flip-flops.

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of the flip-flops.  The story doesn’t end here. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Bagan, Central Plain, Myanmar, Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple, Sulamani Pahto | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

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