Bagan

BAGAN

Bagan , formerly spelt Pagan , is believed to have derived from name Pyugarma , a race from whom Bamars have descended. Its classical Pali name is “ Arimaddana-Pura “ which means “ the city that tramples on enemies “. And its other names in Pali to its extreme dry zone climate are : Tattadesa ( Parched land ) , and Tampadipa ( bronzed country ). The Burmese chronicles also report other classical names of Thiri Pyissaya and Tampawaddy. Bagan with over 2000 well-preserved pagodas and temples of the 11th-13th century is the main tourist attraction in Myanmar and one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. It enjoys worldwide renown for the ancient pagodas , temples and religious buildings around it. It lies on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy river and covers an area of 42 Sq-Km. It’s about 180 km southwest of Mandalay and can be reached by air , by boat , by car and by train. The constructions of numerous pagodas , temples and other religious buildings are an irrefutable proof of the prosperity of the Bagan Empire ( first Myanmar Empire ).

The founder of the Bagan Empire was King Anawrahta ( 1044-1077 ). He broadened his domain from a small area in central Myanmar until it spreads beyond present-day boundary and introduced pure Theravada Buddhism to upper Myanmar with the help of a learned monk from Thahton ( Suvanabumi ) in lower Myanmar. Although King Anawrahta was the greatest king of Bagan dynasty , he was not the first king of Bagan. There are altogether 55 Kings in the Bagan Dynasty and he was the 42th King in that.The reason why there are so many pagodas at Bagan is because it was the capital of the first Myanmar Empire that flourished from 11th to 13th centuries AD. Another reason is that the rise of the empire coincided with the introduction into it of pure Theravada Buddhism from lower Myanmar. Bagan’s golden age came during the 12th century , a time in which in acquired the name “ the city of golden pagodas “. The civilization was supported by rice cultivation , made by highly developed system of irrigation canals. But, in the middle of the 13th century , the empire began to crumble. The Bagan Empire collapsed in 1287 due to repeated Mongol invasion ( 1277-1301 ). From that time onwards , its population was reduced to a village that remained among the ruins of the once grand city. In 1998 , the Village and it dwellers were forcibly relocated a few kilometers to the south of Bagan , forming “ New Bagan “ where one will find accommodation of cheap , quaint , clean hotels. Some people resides in Nyaung-U , north of old Bagan. The majority of native residents are Bamars. The present-population of Bagan and its vicinity is between 150,000 to 200,000. Bagan economy is mainly based on tourism. It’s also the center of Burmese lacquerware industry , which depends on tourist demand and much of it is destined for souvenir shops in Yangon and to send to the world markets. Moreover , the lacquerware-making process itself has become a tourists’ interest. Bagan with many pagodas and temples , dating back more than 1000 years of history is the most impressive and fascination place for tourists and one can arrange his sightseeing tour by car , horse cart , on E-bike. Also , One can enjoy a idyllic sunset boat trip on the Ayeyerwaddy river to view the beautiful sunset over Bagan.


GALLERY

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HIGHLIGHTS

Mt.Poppa

Mt. Popa is about 50km away from Bagan & It takes about one hour drive from 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 and it’s 1518 metres (4981 feet) high above sea level.
The Popa Taungkalat shrine is the favoured home of 37 Nats. “ Popa “ means “ Flower “ in Sanskrit & Mt.Popa means Mt.Flower. As it’s the main center of Nat Worship , Mt.Popa hosts two huge Nat festivals yearly , one beginning on the full moon of Nayun ( May / June ) and another on the full moon of Nadaw ( November / December ). Before King Anawrahta’s time , thousand animals were sacrificed to the Nats during these festivals , but this practice has been prohibited since the Bagan era.
Climbing up by 777 steps to the summit of Taungkalat gives you great pleasure and panoramic view of Mt.Popa surrounding area. When you are in Bagan , Mt.Popa is worth to visit for a while.

Salay

It is a lovely and rustic town about 32 km south of Bagan, The Sale Yok Sone Kyaung is entirely made from teak , the monastery is a major tour destination with magnificent teak carving figures, traditional motifs tell the previous life stories of Buddha-hood and folkloric of the local people during his many past life times. The travelers could see the rural life on the peanut plantation winged by palms trees to delimit the individual champs over the dry lands. Slay is seemed to be the most rustic town in Myanmar, very arid supported by the summer brooks to the east, only the monsoon that can provide water for the fields. The rest of the time it is sandy banks. The other attractive visits are scattered around the dusty plane such as U Pone Nya Museum, exhibits antique lacquer wares, wooden relief and a large standing gilded Buddha image and nunneries just near by the teak monastery compound. If the time permit, Tha-ta-na Kyaung (Keythar Monastery) is worth to visit where the Tipitaka texts are housed in the large red lacquered cabinets, the monastery was surrounded by the verdant tamarind trees and satellite pagodas white washed.

Pakokku

Pakokku is a prosperous trading town in central Myanmar, near Bagan. Located on the western bank of Ayeyarwaddy river and it is well-known for the production of Tobacco. Other than Tobacco plantation, it also produces palm sugar , thanakha ( Myanmar traditional makeup ) , longyis ( Myanmar sarong ) and blankets called “Anyar Saung”. In the olden days , Pakokku Blankets are very important role in Myanmar society. Pakokku is accessible from Mandalay by car and Bagan by ferry boat. After new river-crossed bridge ( longest Ayeyerwaddy River Bridge with 3.4 Km long ) , Pakokku is easy to access from almost every corner of the country.
Famous Shin Ma Taung Thanakha comes from nearby Pakokku. According to the oral history of the natives of Yesagyo and Pakhan, legend has it that during travels of Bagan King AlaungSithu on his royal barge he came to the Taung Ni hill, a little distant from Pakhan-gyi town, and his queen spilled Thanakha paste from her make-up box. To this day the Thanakha tree, grown in the areas around Taung Ni and Shin Ma Taung hills, is more blessed with the sweet aroma than those grown in other parts of the country.
With over 300,000 population , Pakokku is the biggest city in the western part of Ayeyerwaddy River. Main highlights in Pakokku are Shwegugyi Pagoda & Thihoshin Pagoda that Pagoda festival is celebrated annually at Nayon ( May / June ).

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