The red-brick temples of Bagan

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What is often overlooked in the tourist information about Bagan is the strongly religious nature of this temple complex. Pilgrims come here from all over Myanmar, and their place of origin can be known by the colour/style of clothes they wear, and especially by their head dress. This is a holiday season in Myanmar so there were plenty of both local and foreign visitors.

The photo above was taken outside the Kubyauk-gyi Hpaya temple, a 13th century temple in the shape of the Mahabodhi temple in Boddhagaya, India. The walls and ceilings inside this temple were covered in murals of the Buddha, but photography was not allowed inside.

There are many ways to explore Bagan: we were driven around by car but these pilgrims had to pile onto the back of an open lorry. If we had stayed a few more days here, I think we would have hired an electric motorbike to take ourselves around. Or perhaps even have tried out one of these horse-drawn carts, although knowing where we were going would have been a problem. The written language here was indiscypherable to us. 

The photos below were taken a little distance from the Kubyauk-gyi Hpaya temple, and they include the Manuha and Nan Paya temples.

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This square-shaped building is a two-storey monastery, with very small windows. Villagers still farm on the land around these buildings, growing peanuts, sesame, squash and peas. The villagers were moved out of Old Bagan by the government and live nearby in New Bagan. December is in the dry season when the crops have been harvested and there is nothing to stop the red sand from whafting into the air. This makes for colourful sunrise and sunset views, but does make for sore eyes.

Here (below left) we see a leaning pagoda, the result of the 2016 earthquake. A close-up of the pagoda on the right shows some of the original plaster covering the brickwork underneath.

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© Helen Gray 2021