The beauty of Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, also spelled Pagan, on the banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River, is the main tourist destination in Myanmar which is capital of the first Myanmar Empire. It is a place that feels older than time. Bagan is full of ancient architecture and ruins. Thousands of temples, pagodas, and stupas unfold across the dusty plains as if they have grown here organically from the ground for millenia. The sheer number of ancient structures is at once baffling and awe-inspiring. Tours Indochina

Bagan, Myanmar
Bagan, Myanmar

What makes the temples look romantic is the process of graceful ageing. There are no windbreaks and occasional whirlwinds spawn loose dust particles that sandblast the temples. This has eroded the stucco coatings of the temples to reveal the underlying bricks, reddish, and golden brown when bathed in sunlight.  It is a tough place to reach, and therefore you will have much of it to yourself. It makes for great exploration. You are free to take it all in without dodging flappy-hatted loons shuffling off of tourist buses.

Golden Shwezigon Paya, Bagan
Golden Shwezigon Paya, Bagan

Bagan is also a great place for beautiful local Art, such as Lacquer ware, Bamboo works and beautiful local made Cloth. The simplest structure starts with a stupa shaped like a chess pawn. It caches a tiny sacred piece of human remains, relics of the Buddha, or a simple commemorative votive piece. Some stupas have a single pierced niche housing a Buddha icon, which can be viewed by the devotee from the outside. As complexity kicked in, the niches became bigger and no longer fit in the stupa, so a cube block base was introduced to accommodate the enlarged niche which eventually became a cell. With the cube block casing the cell now fully defined, the stupa became its topping. Myanmar travel tours

Hot-air ballooning over Bagan
Hot-air ballooning over Bagan

In the morning, before it gets hot, is a particularly pleasant time to travel around on a rented bicycle or e-bike. It’s more of an overgrown village and lacks anything resembling a night scene, although it does have basic traveller amenities. Plan your partying somewhere else. There are many places to eat in Old Bagan serving the traditional Burmese dishes, especially noodle soup. Some of the buffets are excellent; for about USD1.50 you can eat to your heart’s content from dozens of different traditional dishes.

Bagan is hot most of the year. The best time to visit is between November and February. If you can, visit during a full moon, a popular time for local festivals. Come to Bagan and be enchanted by the beauty of the ancient City.

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