Ananda Temple

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The Ananda Temple is an impressive 11th century structure, built some 300-400 years before the Italian renaissance was building anything like this. The external features have recently undergone extensive renovation with the help of experts from India. It is so large that I could not get it all in view with my camera lens. It is a highly revered temple and attracts everyone who comes to Bagan, and it is easy to see why. This white temple encompasses all the architecture and masonry skills available in the Pagan Dynasty and shows how powerful they must have been. So why is Bagan now deserted and powerless?  Well, the Mongols came in, slaughtered the people, but didn’t waste time trying to destroy the solid buildings. So, an empty city was left behind to decay. Nowadays though you will see plenty of evidence of restoration work, and the main problem seems to be of ‘correct’ renovation.


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Outside was a delightful tree, around which were the ‘birthday’ icons. And there were bells to strike and guardians to look over the four gates to the temple area.

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Inside are corridors lined with statues of the Buddha, and four huge standing Buddhas each facing north, south, east, and west. These are made of solid teak and are covered in gold leaf. You can get a sense of the size of these statues by looking at the visitors below them.

North facing - Buddha Kakusandha.                                       South facing - Buddha Kassapa.

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East facing - Buddha Konagamana.                                        West facing - Buddha Gautama.

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Of these four, the south facing Buddha up close (below left) looks severe, but from a distance (below right) it looks happy and is smiling at the viewer. When this temple was built, only the highest ranked in society could get close to the Buddha, so he was telling them he was unhappy with them! The poor folk could only see the Buddha from a distance, from which he was smiling on them.

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© Helen Gray 2020