Bagan and around

Bagan

This is “the” highlight of any journey to and through Burma. Unforgettable Bagan is one of the world´s biggest and most important sacred venues encompassing, at one time (as also reported by Marco Polo) there have been 12000 temples and pagodas on a territory of only 40 square km! With the advent of the 11th century and till the end of the 13th century, kings, generals and dignitaries spared no effort to have brick put upon brick, to built temples and pagodas one after the other with the solitary aim of favourably influencing their re-incarnation……

Bagan

Bagan

This is “the” highlight of any journey to and through Burma. Unforgettable Bagan is one of the world´s biggest and most important sacred venues encompassing, at one time (as also reported by Marco Polo) there have been 12000 temples and pagodas on a territory of only 40 square km! With the advent of the 11th century and till the end of the 13th century, kings, generals and dignitaries spared no effort to have brick put upon brick, to built temples and pagodas one after the other with the solitary aim of favourably influencing their re-incarnation. Religious fanaticism found its expression in unbridled building. Much has been destroyed during the intervening centuries – earthquakes, wars, thieves all contributed to the decay – yet what is left today is still more than enough to fill the brim of several days of intensive visiting. 20 temples and pagodas along the main tourist route are generally visited, but this can be adapted according to individual needs and preferences with the help of the available maps. A must are the visits to Shwezigon, Bagan´s only Golden Pagoda, and the caves used for meditation of Kyanzittha Umin with their wall paintings as well as Ananda Temple, named after one of Buddha´s disciples. Originally the name was derived from “ananta panna”, dedicated to Buddha´s infinite wisdom. The experienced traveller limits his daily intake to no more than 6 temples to avoid the “temple rally feeling”. Remember: Unforgettable sunrises and sunsets must be experienced atop pagodas as well. A stay of three days is ideal and for those who cannot get enough of Bagan, you can take an early morning balloon ride and have a birdseyeview of those inimitable treasures.

Mount Popa

Mount Popa

Amply a half-day´s excursion leads to Burma´s “Olympus of the spirits” – Mount Popa. Like a blossoming flower (Popa =flower) this volcanic plug towers the arid plain with its sugarpalm trees (Palmyra). A monumental covered staircase with 700 steps leads to the top and small Buddha temples crown the summit. Mount Popa is the centre of the Burmese nat-faith (nat means spirit). Nats, playing much the same role as saints in the Catholic Faith, are the guardians of mankind´s well-being. Mount Popa is the venue of all celebrations honoring nats.

Sale

Sale

In combination with the visit of Mount Popa we recommend Sale, a river trading post and market village. Of special interest: Lovely Yoke Son Monastery with its artistic and ornate teakwood carvings.

Pakokku

Pakokku

Pakokku, situated on the Ayeyarwady river banks opposite Bagan, has actually little of interest to offer. The only interesting site is Pakhangyi Monastery (approx. 20 km NE of Pakukko) which ranks among the country´s finest and oldest Buddhist teakwood monasteries.