Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Bagan - the city of 2000 +++ temples

One of the highlights of a stop in the World Heritage listed city of Bagan is to see the 'sea' of temples at sunset. Sadly due to a late flight into Bagan I missed it! I must say that I can't believe that the scheduling by the airline/travel company could be so BAD! The problem with flights in Myanmar is that the final internal 'arrangements' are only received on arrival into the country. You are 'in their hands'. So I was 'Not Happy Jan'!
In the late morning light - just imagine how much better at either sunrise or sunset!
Still I consoled myself in the knowledge that I would be taking a balloon flight over the temples in the very very early morning. After a 4.00 am wake-up call (aaagh!) this was then followed up 15 minutes later with another call to say that all balloon flights had been cancelled. There went another - and really - my final opportunity. The chance of a return to see them again is SLIM. Oh the joys of travel! Perhaps the best way to describe what I had missed is to quote from the booklet handed to me on arrival in Myanmar. "Bagan cannot fail to move you. Ask any visitor who has witnessed the sunrise or sunset across these fields of glowing temples." Well don't ask me!
Just one of a thousand clusters
It's sad to see so many of them collapsing, crumbling, disappearing with age and lack of care. But then one must remember that they were built in the 10th-12th Centuries! After a quick 'drive by' and a pleading request to stop so I could at least take some photos of all that I had missed, we spent the morning visiting the golden Shwezigon Pagoda - the most famous pagoda in this World Heritage city. It was  built in 1044-1077.
Shwezigon Pagoda - gold, gold, gold - not bad huh!

Some of the beautiful details
What I love about Pagoda's is not just their beauty but also the life that is happening in the forecourts. It's always busy, with people carrying offerings, listening to a monk 'lecture', having a picnic, being reverent - whatever age (from tiny tots to grandparents and everything in between). There is a sense of peace and calm - no jostling even when crowded. There is great respect. 
A monk addressing his followers
Who thank him by giving alms
The nearby Ananda Temple built in the early 11th Century sits in the arid plains. The architect created a white 'snow cave' containing 4 giant buddhas - 9 metres high facing each of the 4 points of the compass. After completing the design he was executed so he couldn't repeat his design! So much for religion!
Approaching the Ananda Temple (though the 'shopping mall'!)
One of the 4 x 9 metre high buddhas (I'd be smiling too dressed in that much gold!)
There's more to come - so until next time.....

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