Friday, December 10, 2010

Bagan - Myanmar

Bagan (Burmese: pu.gam), formerly Pagan, is an ancient city in the Mandalay Division of Burma. Formally titled Arimaddanapura or Arimaddana (the City of the Enemy Crusher) and also known as Tambadipa (the Land of Copper) or Tassadessa (the Parched Land), it was the ancient capital of several ancient kingdoms in Burma. It is located in the dry central plains of the country, on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River, 90 miles (140 km) southwest of Mandalay.
Although an application was submitted, UNESCO does not designate Bagan as a World Heritage Site. The main reason given is that the military junta (SPDC) has haphazardly restored ancient stupas, temples and buildings, ignoring original architectural styles and using modern materials which bear little or no resemblance to the original designs. The junta has also established a golf course, a paved highway, and built a 200-foot (61 meter) watchtower in the southeastern suburb of Minnanthu.
The ruins of Bagan cover an area of 16 square miles (41 km2). The majority of its buildings were built in the 11th century to 13th century, during the time Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire. It was not until King Pyinbya moved the capital to Bagan in AD 874 that it became a major city. However, in Burmese tradition, the capital shifted with each reign, and thus Bagan was once again abandoned until the reign of Anawrahta. In 1057, King Anawrahta conquered the Mon capital of Thaton, and brought back the Tripitaka Pali scriptures, Buddhist monks and craftsmen and all of these were made good use of in order to transform Bagan into a religious and cultural centre. With the help of a monk from Lower Burma, Anawrahta made Theravada Buddhism a kind of state religion, and the king also established contacts with Sri Lanka. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Bagan became a truly cosmopolitan centre of Buddhist studies, attracting monks and students from as far as India, Sri Lanka as well as the Thai and Khmer kingdoms. Among many other works, Aggavamsa's influential Saddaniti, a grammar of the language of the Tipitaka, would be completed there in 1154. In 1287, the kingdom fell to the Mongols, after refusing to pay tribute to Kublai Khan. Abandoned by the Burmese king and perhaps sacked by the Mongols, the city declined as a political centre, but continued to flourish as a place of Buddhist scholarship.
Cultural sites
  • Ananda Temple, c.1090, built by Kyanzittha
  • Bupaya Pagoda, c.850, demolished by the 1975 earthquake and completely rebuilt
  • Dhammayangyi Temple, c.1165, the biggest temple in Bagan, built by Alaungsithu but never finished
  • Dhammayazika Pagoda, 1196–98, built by Narapatisithu (Sithu II)
  • Gawdawpalin Temple, started by Narapatisithu and finished by Nandaungmya, the superstructure destroyed by the 1975 quake and rebuilt
  • Htilominlo Temple, 1218, built by Htilominlo
  • Lawkananda Pagoda, built by Anawrahta
  • Mahabodhi Temple, Bagan, c. 1218, a smaller replica of the temple in Bodh Gaya, India
  • Manuha Temple, built by the captive Mon king Manuha
  • Mingalazedi Pagoda, 1268–74, built by Narathihapate
  • Myazedi inscription, c. 1113, described as the "Rosetta Stone of Burma" with inscriptions in four languages: Pyu, Mon, Old Burmese and Pali, dedicated to Gubyaukgyi Temple by Prince Rajakumar, son of Kyanzittha
  • Nanpaya Temple, c.1060-70, Mon style, believed to be either Manuha's old residence or built on the site
  • Nathlaung Kyaung Temple, mid 11th.C., Hindu deities "confined" to this temple
  • Payathonzu Temple, probably around 1200
  • Sein-nyet Ama & Nyima (temple and pagoda, 13th century)
  • Shwegugyi Temple, 1131, built by Alaungsithu and where he died
  • Shwesandaw Pagoda, c.1070, built by Anawrahta
  • Shwezigon Pagoda, 1102, built by Anawrahta, finished by Kyanzittha
  • Sulamani Temple, 1183, built by Narapatisithu
  • Tan-chi-daung Paya, on the west bank, built by Anawrahta
  • Tharabha Gate, c.850, built by King Pyinbya
  • Thatbyinnyu Temple, the tallest temple at 200 feet (61 m), 12th century, built by Alaungsithu
  • Tu-ywin-daung Paya, on the eastern boundary of Bagan, built by Anawrahta



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