A historic capital, Bagan, known as city of tour million pagodas, is the richest archaeological site in Asia. This enchanting city is situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy river about 193 km South of Mandalay. Once the centre of a glorious kingdom, ancient temples is the landscape as far as the eye can see. Today apart from spectacular sunset views and serene river cruises, Bagan is also the centre of the expanding Myanmar lacquer ware industry.
The town of Bagan (formerly spelled as “Pagan“). central Myanmar (Burma). situated on the left bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River and approximately 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Mandalay. The site of an old capital city of Myanmar. Pagan is a pilgrimage centre and contains ancient Buddhist shrines that have been restored and redecorated and are in current use. Ruins of other shrines and pagodas cover a wide area. An earthquake on July 8. 1975. severely damaged more than half of the important structures and irreparably destroyed many of them. The whole of the Buphaya Pagoda. for nine centuries a landmark for river-boatmen. tumbled into the Ayeyarwaddy and was carried off by the waters. The village also has a school for lacquerware. for which the region is noted.
Pagan’s importance lies in its heritage rather than its present. It was first built probably in AD 849 and. from the 11th century to the end of the 13th. was the capital of a region roughly the size of modern Myanmar. In 1287 it was overrun by the Mongols during their wide-ranging conquests. and it never recovered its position. though a little desultory building continued on Buddhist shrines.
Among these pagodas. there are four most famous pagodas which has the special features as follows :
- Dhu = Dhammayan (The thickest)
- Nyan = Thabinnyu (The Omniscient)
- Anu = Ananda (The most sculptural )
- Thakho = Shwezigon (The most powerful)
- Ananda Temple
- Shwesandaw Temple
- Shwezigon Temple
- Thatbyinnyu Temple
- Shwegugyi Temple
- Manuhar Pagoda
- Dhamma Yangyi Temple
- Sulamani Pahto
- Gubyaukgyi Temple @ Wetkyi-Inn Village
- Gawdaw Palin Temple
- Bupaya Stupa
- Mya Zedi
- Nan Myint Towel
- Tharabar Gateway
- Bagan Museum (Archaeological Museum)
- Sale (Sa –Lay)
- You can take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise through two companies in Bagan one is called Balloons Over Bagan, around US$ 320 per person and the other is called Bagan Ballooning, US$ 350 per person with less people in the basket. The two companies operate from October till April.
- E-bikes (electric bicycles) and e-scooters are available from many shops in town from 5,000-10,000 kyats for a full day. E-bikes can be found in New Bagan at one of the many shops from 4,000-8,000 kyats for 1 person. Deals can be made if renting for multiple days. These are a more pleasant option compared to a bike, given that it can get pretty hot (30-40°C at noon), roads are sandy and you can cover more distance. It’s also a good way to get out to sunrise and sunset spots. Quality and speed can vary greatly.
- Go on a horse and cart guided tour. This is many people’s favourite, and certainly the most romantic way to see the temples. Most drivers speak at least some English (it is worth checking before you agree the price), and will of course know good routes around the temples and some hidden gems. However, horses have to follow more well-trodden tracks than bicycles, so there are areas they cannot reach. Prices range from K15,000 to K25,000 for a day, depending on the season and where you hire the horse and cart from (New Bagan tends to be more expensive). Carts can be shared between two or, at most, three people.
Mt. Popa is about 50km away from Bagan. It takes about 45 minutes drive from Nyaung Oo Airport, Bagan. Mt. Popa is an extinct volcano that is estimated to have erupted for the final time, over three hundred and twenty thousand years ago. However, popa’s attraction today lies not so much in its geological aspect, but more in its religious and mystical interests which are still prevalent. Popa is popularly recognized as an abode of many “Nats” (spirits of ancient ancestors) who dwell in various parts of the mountain. In the days of old, it also used to be referred to as the “Mountain of Spirits”. The evidence of these beliefs is abundant in the form of “nat shrines”, leg- ends, rituals, ceremonial offerings, annual representative festivals, and the never- ending stream of pilgrims and believers in mysticism. Popa today is one of the most popular pilgrimage spots in the country. One would need to spend a sizeable amount of time in order to unearth the spiritual and legendary wealth of this sacred mountain.