My Destruction of a Temple of Bagan

Burma's flag
Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan
December 23rd 2014
Published: January 15th 2015
Edit Blog Post

"Did I really just do that?" I thought to myself. Yep, I did. The sound of 12th century brickwork scraping across crumbled mortar and then clinking dully beside my foot was unmistakable - and the visible proof was undeniable. This was what happened as I manoeuvred myself to get in the best position for viewing the sunset atop one of the ancient temples of Bagan. It is for reasons such as this that I'm sure most ancient sites are cordoned off these days; however, I did my best to return the disturbed brick to its original position. After having somewhat successfully completed this task, I found my desired spot, the same one I would sit in for two consecutive late afternoons, reading my dodgy, hawker-bought photocopied edition of George Orwell's 'Burmese Days' (which I thought was a great read, by the way). The sunset which befell the scene before me was like watching a disc of gold become a molten puddle as it spread itself over the horizon. Between the melting sun and where I sat were roughly 4,000 other temples, some hidden beneath trees, others poking their hti's (pointy peak of the temple stupa) above the foliage, whilst the most impressive ones dominated sections of the landscape with their symmetry and scale.

This was why I had ventured to Burma. About ten years ago my eyes alighted upon a photograph of these temples when I was somewhere in Thailand and I had an insatiable desire to see this ancient plain of temples with my own eyes. It took a while (and some frequent flyer miles which were due to expire), but I finally got to take in the view. I exceeded my expectations no end when I took in the view from the vantage point of a hot air balloon! I had never previously been ballooning; however, Caroline had done so in Turkey and said it was worth every cent, so with her encouragement I paid up the (quite significant) sum and took to the air in time to see the sun make its first appearance for the day. Even though I had already wandered through the plains for a couple of days, visiting quite a few temples in the process, I didn’t accurately understand the enormous scope of this site until I saw it from above. In a little over 200 years, the Bagan kings had gone completely troppo over building temples for their new faith: Buddhism. Many tried to outdo their predecessor, whilst others employed brutal methods in order to get their temples built (such as killing the architects and mixing them into the mortar! I’m pretty sure that king ended up being assassinated and his temple, called Dhammayangyi, was never finished - yet it’s still the biggest one in Bagan!). Nevertheless, what was constructed in that short time was a phenomenal feat which must have impressed the Mongols when they turned up to sack the city as revenge for a couple of their envoys being killed some years earlier, which, in hindsight, probably wasn’t the best approach to foster diplomatic relations. Such an approach even manages to put Tony Abbott’s idle threat to ‘shirtfront’ Vladimir Putin into the shade…

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


15th January 2015

very cool!
Good pics! No doubt it was a great experience!
15th January 2015

re: very cool
Yep, it was like stepping back in time, seeing how life was when we lived in a handmade world. I didn't even want to blink because there was so much to see and absorb.
17th January 2015
The unfinished temple of Dhammayangyi.

Temples everywhere!
Very trippy seeing the temples from above. What a great adventure the balloon ride was!
3rd February 2015
Sunrise on a memorable morning.

Amazing adventure
As you say the numbers of temples is nearly unimaginable even after seeing them. Such beauty and grace. Thanks for the fantastic photos
4th February 2015
Sunrise on a memorable morning.

Thanks for reading!!

Tot: 0.036s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 12; qc: 21; dbt: 0.0056s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.2mb