Bagan, the Land of History and Stunning Ancient Temples
Bagan is an ancient city located on the dry central plains on the eastern banks of the Ayeyarwady River and is 145 kilometers southwest of Mandalay.
It is one of the oldest and most impressive archeological sites in Asia. While on his travels, Marco Polo documented Bagan as "a gilded city alive with tinkling bells and the swishing sounds of monks' robes".
Bagan is home to thousands of temples stretched across the central Myanmar plains with many dating as far back as the 11th century. There could have been as many as 13,000 temples and stupas in the 42 square kilometer area at one time. Today, 2,200 of them remain.
The city was also the former capital of Myanmar starting in 874 AD. However, the title of capital city did not last long. Capital cities tend to move with the start of each reign. So, in 1057 AD, the new king King Anawrahta captured the Mon capital of Thaton and brought back the cultural artifacts, Buddhist monks and craftsmen to Bagan. This eventually transformed Bagan from capital city into Myanmar’s cultural center.
By the 13th century, Bagan became an important center for Buddhist studies, attracting scholars and students from the Thai and Khmer kingdoms and as far back as India and Sri Lanka. In the late 13th century, the city fell to the Mongols. It was perhaps sacked by the Mongols and eventually abandoned but continued to flourish as a place of Buddhist scholarship.
* * *
An interesting way to see the ancient temples is by balloon. Get a bird’s eye view of this marvelous ancient city with Exotissimo’s Balloons over Bagan tour. A spectacular view of this ancient city against the sunrise or sun set awaits as you glide through the Burmese air.
* * * * *
Published on 12/25/09