The Plain of Bagan in Burma was once the capital of several ancient kingdoms of Burma. By the end of the 1200s, built over 230 years there was supposedly 4446 temples on the plain next to the Irrawaddy River. Earthquakes, floods and thieves have left about 2200 temples and pagodas today.
Bagan or Pagan is one of two ancient religious sites in south east Asia, with the other being Angkor Wat. Hundreds of Buddhist temples, in a range of architectural styles, dot the plain beside the Irrawaddy River.
The Plain of Bagan covers an area of 47 square kilometres and is dotted with temples, pagodas and stupas. Most were built between 1000 and 1200 AD.Good views across the plain can be obtained from terraces on many of the temples.
Spires of Shwezigon Pagoda, which was completed in 1089 and is said to contain several hairs and bones of the Buddha. As a result it is a pilgrimage site for both ancient shamanic cultures and Buddhists.
Built between 1210 and 1234, Mahabodhi Temple is a smaller replica of the Bodhi Temple in India. It is completely coovered in small niches containing seated Buddha figures.
Ananda Temple was completed in 1091 by King Kyanzittha and reaches 51 metres high. It contains 4 great golden Buddha statues facing each of the cardinal points. The one shown here is the south-facing Buddha.
A young monk at Bupaya Temple on the banks of the Irrawaddy River.
Bupaya Temple was completed in 850 but was demolished by the 1975 earthquake. Since that time it has been rebuilt.
This statue is in Htilominlo Temple, which was completed in 1218. Inside are 4 Buddhas on the upper and lower floors.
Shwezigon Pagoda was built as one of the most important shrines: a place for prayer and reflection. Surrounding the pagoda are zayats (resthouses) and shrines.
Thatbyinnyu Temple is the tallest temple at 61 metres and was completed in the 12th century. It is 500 metres from Ananda Temple and one of the earliest double-storey temples.
Nagayon Temple bas built by King Kyanzittha and follows the same plan as Ananda Temple. It resembles temples from the Indian area of Orissa.
Gubyaukgyi Temple is an Indian-style temple that has some excellent examples of stucco work on its exterior walls.
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