Your base for exploring this tourist attraction is the heritage city of Bagan (formerly called Pagan). For travel information about Bagan, go to Bagan Travel Guide. To prepare for a trip to Myanmar, read also the Myanmar Travel Guide. Looking for budget accommodation? Use AsiaExplorers Budget Accommodation Guide, the no-frills website to cover your budget accommodation needs.
Ananda Temple, also called Ananda Phaya, is the most impressive and famous temple in Bagan. It is located to the east of the old city wall of ancient Bagan. Said to represent the endless wisdom of the Buddha, Ananda Temple was built by King Kyanzittha. According to the Glass Palace Chronicles, one day eight Indian monks arrived begging for alms. They told King Kyanzittha they had once lived in the legendary Nandamula cave temple in the Himalayas. Using special powers, they made the mythical landscape to appear before King Kyanzittha. The overwhelmed king immediately decided to build a replica of this snow-covered cave.
Ananda Temple, Bagan.
When Ananda Temple was completed in 1090, King Kyanzittha was so awestruck by its unique style that he personally executed the architect by Brahman ritual so that the temple could not be duplicated.
The central square of Ananda Temple has sides of 175 feet (53m) and rises in terraces to the crown 168 feet high. In the center of the cube are 4 famous standing Buddha images of 31 feet (9.5m) height. The base and terraces of Ananda Temple are decorated with a great number of glazed tiles showing scenes from the earlier lives of Buddha. In the western sanctum are life size statues of the temple's founder and his primate while in the west porch are two footprints of Buddha on pedestals.
Inside Ananda Temple are four large standing Buddha images in arched recesses on each side of a square central block. Two parallel ambulatory corridors run around the central block. There are three tiers of arched niches in the walls of the ambulatory corridors, as well as smaller niches in the upper wall to enshrine images of the Buddha, and reliefs of episodes from the Final Life. Light comes in through two tiers of arched windows in the outer walls as well as by dormer windows in the roof, so placed to illuminate the visage of the standing images.
The superstructure of the Ananda Temple consists of three levels of sloping roofs are followed by three receding terraces. Above this rises a mitre-shaped curvilinear tower closely resembling the sikhara or tower of the nagara temple of northern India. The central tower of Ananda Temple is horizontally grooved and has a lancet on each of the four sides in which are set a vertical row of five arched niches containing Buddha images. The shape of this superstructure is replicated in the corner stupas of the uppermost roof while those of the lower roofs have a bell-shaped dome.
Henry, our tour guide, ringing the bell at Ananda Temple for good luck.
Sights in Bagan
Bagan was one of the first capitals of an ancient Burmese empire. Today it is one of the world's major heritage sites. Click enter to view the sights in Bagan.