Bagan is an ancient city with cultural and historical treasure that is located along the grand Ayeyarwady River, in the heart of Myanmar. Thousands of pagodas can be found in the city and you’ll be amaze taking sight to some sort of ancient buildings. The city is surrounded by colorful temples and open farmland, which makes you feel the holiness of the place. The temples and pagodas here can be dated from the 11th to 12th centuries. Today the city has largest area of pagodas, stupas and temples ranging from 2,200 to 4,000.
Aside from numerous temples and pagodas of Bagan, this city is also culturally rich having vast farmland occupied by the local farmers. They still use traditional farming equipments and ox drawn wagons, they have doing these techniques for ages. Seeing acres of farmland strewed between ancient temples is really a different thing experience. Taking a bike ride to explore the area is really fun to do where you will get a real sense of the mystifying structures and beauty of the farmlands. Apart from bike ride, other fun things to do are taking a pony cart ride to take you up and down the back alley ways of the city, wander the open land by foot and explore the temples at your own steps, and for a real treat, you could soar over Bagan through a hot air balloon ride.
Sunset is one of the main highlights of Bagan because during this time, the earth colored temples seems to glow as they reflect the deep red sunset. It is best to watch the sunset on the top of a tall pagoda, where you can see the other temples’ amazing look during that time. All you need to do is relax and breathe the fresh air while watching them vanish from your sight.
Some of the sites and temples that you might see inside and around Bagan are:
Ananda Temple – built in 1091 by King Kyan-zit-th, the third King. It is the holiest and the most important temple all over Bagan. It is located left side on the southern area of the Bagan-Nayung Oo Rd. just before the road heads to Tharaba Gate of Old Bagan. Ananda was derived from the word “Anantapannya” which means “boundless wisdom” in Pali. This temple houses the 4 Buddhas that face the directions of cardinal. It represents the four Buddhas who have achieved Nirvana.
Shwe-San-Daw Temple – is also known as the “sunset temple”, where foreign and local tourists gather here every evening to witness the wonderful Bagan sunset. This temple starts getting large crowd at 4:30pm. If you want to get a nice place or be on the top levels you must come here early as these levels are small and space is limited. The climb up is about a 5 minute-walk up through stairs and the steps get narrower and steeper near the top. This temple starts getting crowded as early as 4:30pm. Around the temple, there are plenty of vendors selling souvenirs, shirts, and drinks.
Temple of Shwe Zigon – is a gourd stupa gold pagoda that was built in 1087. It is the first monument built in Myanmar. Heading south, it is located on the northern area of the Bagan-Nyaung Road( right side ) right after passing by it’s bus station. Starting from the road to the compound, there is a long covered walkway with lots of souvenir stalls. Beware on the stall vendors as they are very aggressive in pushing their products onto you.
Mt. Popa – is a distinctive mountain in Popa that is also known as an extinct volcano and the house of the 37 spirits. Made up of old volcanoes that formed the northern off shoot of the mount Bago Yoma which occupied the central region. Standing 4,900 feet in height above the sea level. It is located about 65km away from the Ayeyarwady River.