Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bagan - Cradle of Myanmar Culture

Ruined Bagan
Bagan, the city of ancient Myanmar kings, is the cradle of Myanmar culture. In Bagan, there are over two thousand pagodas. The ancient monuments consisting of temples, pagodas, stupas and others religious edifices are scattered in an area of 43 square kilometers on the plain along the Ayeyarwaddy River in cultural Myanmar.
Ruins of all sizes, some glorious temples like the Ananda and the Thatbyinnyu and graceful small pagodas as far as one’s eye can see. Bagan can boast of its richest archaeological sites in the whole of South East Asia.
Bagan itself is now only a village at the bend of the Ayeyarwaddy River. All the remains of the grand palace of King Kyansittha is now a vacant plot of land. The only feature which remains to show the traces of glory that was Bagan is the Sarabba Gateway. Nowadays, our government rebuilt the new grand palace of King Kyansittha near the Sarrabba Gateway.
According to the Myanmar chronicles there were small national groups and gradually Myanmar appeared. The Myanmar had founded a small settlement or kingdom of their own supporting and merging with the Pyus.
Myanmar together with the Pyus, Thets and other allied national groups felt themselves confident to build a fortified city of their own. Thus, Bagan came into existence at the fork of the Ayeyarwaddy River joint below its junction with its great tributary, the Chindwin River.
The new kingdom was at first not stable. There were frequent fights for the throne and changes of dynasties until the King Anawrahta emerged in 1044 A.D. His father had been forced to abdicate the throne to a usurper (Sokkate) and became a monk when Anawrahta was only child. When he came of age, he challenged the usurper to a single combat and killed him near Myinkaba. He offered the throne to his father. But the father declined.
Anawrahta strengthened his army by selecting and appointing for great heros (Kyansittha, Ngalone Letphel, Nyaun Oo Phi and Nga Thwe Yue) as military commanders. The kings and his four warriors led the army by wearing armour of gold and riding a demon horses. Anawrahta felt dissatisfied with the existing religion of the people in the kingdom. He did not like a mixture of Mahayana Buddhism and animism. He resented the enormous power and prestige of the Ari monks. He considered then depraved. At their juncture Shin Arahan arrived from Thaton and brought with him pure Buddhism. The ascetic and saintly person of Shin Arahan was in striking contrast with the Ari monks. Shortly after his arrival he converted King Anawrahta into Theravada Buddhism. The king politely requested King Manuha of Thaton for a copy of Theravada Buddhist Scriptures which he possessed.
The Mon King, Manuha, however, sent back a rude reply. This led to the resentment of King Anawrahta an made him march towards Thaton together with his great commanders and mighty army. He besieged the city of Thaton. After three months of besiege, King Manuha yielded to King Anawrahta. Anawrahta brought back to Bagan, not only the copy of scriptures, but also Manuha as captive and also members of his court, monks, scholars, scribes and artists.
In Myanmar chronicles mention is made of Anawrahta’s conquest of some neighbouring countries. His principle aim was to unite the geographic region of Myanmar into a single kingdom and then surrounded it with small kingdom paying tribute to him. Thus, he was the founder of the first united Myanmar Kingdom and also the first Myanmar Empire.
In making Buddhism as the national religion of the people of Anawrahta sought advice from Shin Araham whom he appointed as the primate of his empire. He was confronted with apposition from the Ari monks and so he handled it with skill. He come to some compromise with spirit worshippers. Thus, he was successful in making Buddhism the national religion of his kingdom became the majority of the people accepted it. As directed by Shin Araham, the monks went to the villagers, built monasteries and tought the people, not only religion but also reading and writing.

Some famous temples and pagodas in Bagan are:
Shwezigon Pagoda – Situated at Nyaung Oo, only three terraces of the pagoda were finished when Anawrahta was killed in 1077 A.D. King Kyansittha supervised completion of the structure in 1089 A.D.
Arnanda Temple – Built by King Alwungsithu (grandson of Kyansittha) in about 12th century. It is the tallest structure in Bagan.
Gawdawpalin Temple – Built by King Navapatisithu.
Gupyaukgyi Temple – Its famous Myazedi is scription was engraved in two stone pillars, each one featuring on its four faces the same text in four languages: Pali, Mon, Pyu and Myanmar. This stone inscription gives the date of ascent to King Kyansittha in 1084 A.D. This temple was completed by the King’s son, Rajakumara in 1113 A.D.
In addition to Shwezigon Pagoda, King Anawrahta also built three other prominent pagodas such as Tuywintaung, Tankyitaung and Lawkanander of which Tankyitaung Pagoda is situated on the hillock on the west bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River.
Thus, King Anawrahta was the first of the great temple builders and he made Bagan the center of Theravada learning. He invited scholars from Sri Lanka, India and the Mon country.
But there are historical record of several earthquakes in Bagan during the reign of King Narapatisitu (1174-1211 A.D) in 1286, 1298, 1644, 1768, 1774-1775 and 1838 A.D.
The earthquake of 8 July, 1975 was comparatively more severe leaving only a few monuments totally unharmed.
There is also a Bagan Museum. This interesting small museum had been shifted about thirty years ago to a new and modernized building along the road towards the Thiripyitsayar Hotel. It contains a large number of Buddha Images, Buddhist scriptures and other fine art works.
ref; Maung Khine Zaw, The Traveller
A Farmer in Bagan

A temple in the dawn

Local oxcarts in Bagan

Museum of Bagan

Ruined monastery and Bagan

Cowboys in Bagan

Ballooning in Bagan

Biking in Bagan

Dhammayangyi Pahto

Inside passage of  Dhammayangyi Pahto

Inside a temple

Tourist Horse-cart ride in Ancient Zone

Inside a temple

Decoration Statues

Inside a temple

Inside a temple

Inside of Manuha Temple

Mural Paintings

Stairways of a temple

Local family and Bagan

Local community in Bagan village

Mural Painting in Bagan
Bagan Temples and Toddy Trees

Way back home

Shwezigon Paya

Family holiday in Burma

Sunrise in Bagan
Burma has only recently opened its doors to tourism but is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting places to visit in South East Asia with stunningly beautiful scenery, fabulous cultural attractions and picture perfect beaches.
It is ideal for a family holiday as there are a wealth of activities that the children will love. Spend a day in the jungle learning how to look after an elephant; ride a ‘long-tail boat’ through the narrow channels of Inle Lake, watching the unique rowing style of the local fishermen; spend the night in a rural village giving your kids a wonderful opportunity to play with local children; join the pilgrims to watch sunset from the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the sunlight reflecting of the gilt stupas; hike into the hills around Pindaya, visiting hill tribe villages and enjoying stunning mountain scenery and relax in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and enjoy the idyllic views from Ngapali Beach.
The people are incredibly welcoming and will be delighted to see you travelling with your family. Walks through the market will take twice as long as friendly shopkeepers stop you to chat to your children and offer them sweets or cakes and nothing is too much trouble.
There are a wide selection of excellent hotels, many with swimming pools, which is invaluable when travelling with your children.
To summarize, if you like the idea of cycling along quiet roads that criss-cross a plain dotted with thousands of temples, stopping to admire the view from the terrace of a dilapidated temple whilst the children run off to explore, then Burma could just be your ideal family holiday!

Market day on the Inle Lake

Visiting to Village School

Visiting the classroom

Playing children at the Inle Lake

Biking in Bagan

Sunset at the Beach

Horse ride at the beach

Ballooning over Inle Lake

Boat ride in Inle Lake

Cruise to Mingun

Horse cart ride at the Innwa Ancient City

Relaxing on the boat @ Inle Lake

Floating at the U Bein Bridge during the sunset time

A family enjoying in Myanmar