Bagan, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Pagan. The various historical names for the city translate to “The City that Tramples on Enemies” – and to the especially fitting, “parched land” or “bronzed country”. On these dry plains in Upper Burma, cut through by the Irrawaddy River, 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were built from the 11th to the 13th centuries in an area equal to about 40 square miles. Today, the number of these monuments has been reduced to just 2,200 still standing.
Once home to up to 200,000 people, the city was replaced as the capital when the Myinsaing Kingdom dethroned the Kingdom of Pagan in 1298. Thereafter, as the people moved to the new capital, Bagan was reduced to a small town that would never regain its former status. Bagan and the Plain, continued as a pilgrimage destination that focused on a few of the larger and more preeminent monuments, leaving the rest to the effects of time, earthquakes and neglect.
Various restoration efforts have been sponsored by the governments over the years. Unfortunately, the most extensive of these in the 18th century and more recently, in the 1990’s, were not archeologically sound. And several hundreds of the ruined temples remain untouched.
All of the images in the post were taken from atop Shwesandaw Pagoda at sunset over several evenings. The Pagoda (in the first image above) affords breathtaking views in all directions – it was a great place to watch and capture the changing light and colors as the sun sank to the horizon. Really, what an incredible place.