The monuments seem to overwhelm the landscape. There are about 2,000 of them covering an area of 16 square miles on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady in central Myanmar. They are in different sizes and in a bewildering variety of shapes. They are also in varying stages of preservation and disrepair. Some of them throb with life, visited by devotees, a few have become little more than piles of bricks.Tradition has it that Bagan was founded by Thamoddarit in the early 2nd century. But perhaps it would be better to date the Bagan of the monuments from its establishment as a walled city, with twelve gates and a moat, by King Pyinbya in 849.
The chronicles give a list of kings who reigned at Bagan from Thamoddarit onwards, with Pyinbya as the 34th king. But legend is inextricably mingled with history, and sometimes overshadow it, in the accounts of the kings in the chronicles, and it is only with the 42nd king in the list, Anawrahta, that Bagan emerges into the clear light of history.Myanmar is one of the most devout Buddhist countries in the world. Although the shades of the countryside vary from lush green to a golden, sunburnt yellow there is one color that shines brightly throughout the nation: the glittering gold of thousands of pagodas and temples. From the smallest village shrine set in the bough of a graceful old tree to the glory of the huge pagodas and temples of the bigger cities a journey through Myanmar is a non-stop succession of religious wonders. Yangon’s Shwedagon Paya, Mandalay’s Mahamuni Paya and Bagan’s plain of temples shouldn’t be missed, but there are also many other lesser-known Buddhist religious sites that will impress you with their beauty and spirituality.
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