Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bagan, Ancient City of Myanmar- Page 3

Second day, the tiredness took effect. We took a long rest in the morning, and started our trip at lunch time. Our target, a group of temples at Minnanthu Village, 5 km south of Nyaung U.

Our tour guide cum driver brought us to Nyaung U for lunch. Then, we started our second sequence of temples walkthrough- Leimyethna, Tayokepyay, Thambula (built by a queen), Thon Zu (the only triple pagoda structure), Dhamma Yazika pagoda (the pagoda with 5 faces), and Pyat-Tha-Gyi for sunset. We took a quick stop at Gawdaw Palin before we headed back to our hotel at 6 pm. Many of these temples were not stated in map. We could never get to these temples without a local guide. Overall, the temples at Mannanthu are lesser compared to the temples around Old Bagan area.

Leimyethna means "four sides". Believed to be built by the prime minister of  King Htilominlo, the temple is well preserved, with the quarter for the monks, praying hall, and a few other structures were built within the compound of the temple. The temple was said to be "whitened" by the villages. The restoration of the temple was ongoing during our visit. 

Leimyethna is a small white temple. Frankly, the walkway with metal cover ruined the view of this ancient temple.

Other ruins within the compound of Leimyethna.

Thonzu means "three", thus Paya-Thon-Zu is the name for the three temples that joined together. All three temples are identical to each other. The building of this temple was taken place in late 13th century, and it was left unfinished when the whole kingdom was abandoned.

Thonzu is located just 200 meters from Leimyethna, with Tayokephay and Thambula just 200 meters away. More information about this temple is available at

Thon Zu is neither magnificient, nor attractive from the outside. Some web information stated that the interesting part of this temple is the mural drawn inside the temple. So, maybe you will have to go into the temple instead of looking at it from the outside.

Tayoke-Pyay, or pronounce as Tayok-Pye carries the meaning of "The king who fled the army from China". In fact, the intruders were came from Mongolia instead of China. Built by King Narathihapate (1256-1287), this is one of a few last temples built in Bagan.

Tayoke-Pyay in the rain. We didn't went into this temple because of the raining, and the temple looked dark inside. This was one of the temples which the upper level was still open to visitors, but it wouldn't be long.

It was built by a queen. That makes this temple unique among the others. Thambula, who was the consort of King Uzana built the temple in 1255 AD, one year before King Narathihapate succeeding the place of King Uzana. Although some historians are keen in debating the real name of Thambula (some said should be Thonlula), we found the only interesting part of this small single storey structure- its builder.

Located close to Tayoke-Pyay, Thon Zu, and Leimyethna, this small Thambula was built by Queen Tham Bula. You can see from the sign board that Thon Lula is written in bracket below Tham Bula. Interesting.

Dhamma Yazika
This pagoda is around 2 km south west of Minnanthu (at the middle of the road from Minnanthu to New Bagan).Dhammayazika means “Pertaining the King of Law”in Pali language. King Narapatisithu built the pagoda in 1198 AD to enshrine four holy relics from the King of Sri Lanka.The distinct part of this pagoda- it has 5 sides instead of normal 4. 

Dhamma Yazika was under restoration during our visit. We just took a short stay, about 10 minutes at the pagoda.

This pagoda is smaller than Shwezigon, and quite remote compared to the town-based Shwezigon in Nyaung U.

Surprisingly, the surrounding of the pagoda was nicely landscaped. Photos show the bells decorated with figures (left), and the walkway covered with flower trees.

Pyatthadar, or Pyatthada is a big monastery, and is believed to be the last big construction in Bagan. King Kyawswa (1287-1298) is believed to be the builder of this monastery. As most monasteries in Bagan were built in wood, it is believed that the builder of Pyatthadar wish to show his power by building it with bricks.

What we found interesting about this structure- the double cover design (or double-cave style) exhibited within the entrance. There are small stairs built for us to access to the rooftop area of the building. We came for the sunset, and again, rain crushed our hope. The nice view around compensate a little bit but not much. We didn't stay there for long.

By the way, the road to Pyatthadar turned muddy in the rain and we saw a few cyclist stuck in the middle of the road. Please take care if you are planning to visit the temple on your own.

Pyatthadar from the main road. The land around the monastery was barren.
We went through the narrow stairs lead to the roof of the monastery (upper left), and saw the structure topping the building (upper right). The double cover design of the entrance can be clearly seen.

North-eastern view from Pyatthadar. Dhammayangyi can be seen on far left, while Sulamani is the biggest temple figure 1/3 from right side. Thatbyinnyu and Ananda, both with eyes-catching golden spire can be seen far away. Please enlarge this photo by clicking on it.

Close up of Sulamani using telephoto lense.

Southern view from Pyatthadar, with Dhamma Yazika can be seen at the far center of the photo. The land was barren. Ancient temples are dispersed beyond this point. This site is definitely not as good as Shwesandaw for us to see the sunset. Please click to enlarge this photo.

Gawdaw Palin
We visited Gawdawpalin on our way back to our hotel. The temple was completed by King Htilominlo (1211-1231). For us, it is a shorter twins of Thatbinnyu with the whitewashed wall and golden spire resemble the architecture of Ananda. This temple is located beside Bagan Archaeological Museum. Saturated by the temples, we didn't went into Gawdawpalin.

Whitewashed temple structure from outside the compound. Compared to Thatbyinnyu, this temple is short by only a few meters.

Closer look on Gawdaw Palin.

Third Day, we were quite relaxed with only one place left in our itinerary- Bagan Archaeological Museum. That morning, we went for a stroll around New Bagan, went for lunch around 12:30 pm, visited the museum, and went straight to the airport. We will share more about the accommodation and transportation in Bagan in our upcoming post.

Bagan Archaeological Museum
We struggled a bit before we put this museum into our place-to-visit list. Why? First, the comments by reviewers, good and bad were sort of 50-50, plus, the entrance fee of USD5. However, we came out with the decision- since we had travelled far into the land of Bagan, and since we had whole day to dispose, so why not (we had decided earlier that we had visited enough temples and were not going for more)?

 The museum from the gate.

 The decoration of the museum.

Statue of the hunter in front of the museum, with Gawdaw Palin at the back.

The museum is big, with many items exhibited- replicas and the genuine objects collected from the temples in Bagan. The ground floor- main chamber of the museum contained the sculpture of the kings in Bagan, with four side chambers exhibiting the life in Bagan, the work of restoration, and the artwork in Bagan. Many replicas were exhibited in this level. The first floor- the right chamber contained the drawing and the dimension of the temples in Bagan, and the left chamber displayed all Buddha statues recovered from the temples.

By visiting the museum, no doubt we have understood more about the history and the people in Bagan. However, some down side which could be improved- many of the description was written only in Burmese language. The air conditioner was not well functioning as well, which made a few chamber quite deterring.

If you ask,is it worth to visit the museum? Then our answer is yes, but if possible, visit the museum first before going out to the field to look for the temples. Some of the artifacts displayed with the places of discovery might give you more hints on where to visit in Bagan.

We will write more on getting around Bagan soon, with more sharing on accommodation, transportation, and food.

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