SOUTHEAST ASIA BUCKET LIST: TOP 5 BIRD'S-EYE VIEWED TEMPLES AND PAGODAS BAGAN
After the excitement and hustle of Bangkok and Hanoi, I longed for more serene surroundings, which brings us to Myanmar, and the revered city of Bagan, land of 1,000 pagodas. And while I loved the temples and wats of Thailand and Vietnam, it’s time for a fresh perspective, so we take to the air with Balloons over Bagan for this third installment of the Southeast Asian Bucket List, and my Top 5 Bird’s Eye Pagodas and Temples in Bagan.
1. SHWEZIGON PAGODA
In a land of glittering stupas, Shwezigon Pagoda is one of the most iconic in all of Myanmar. The main bell-shaped zedi is entirely covered in gold, with jewels embedded into the spire. This pagoda was definitely made to stand out from among the rest of the spires of Bagan, shimmering red and gold in the sunrise.
2. THATBYINNYU TEMPLE
If any temple was built to look like a large white Burmese castle, it’s Thatbyinnyu. Called “The Omniscient”, this temple is the tallest spire on the plains of Bagan, and can be clearly seen from miles away, if the other balloons will avoid blocking the view.
3. SHWESANDAW PAGODA
Perfectly symmetrical, Shwesandaw’s white stupa bends gently upward into the lightening sky like a pale lotus bud reaching for that first ray of sunlight. Easily visible will be Shwesandaw’s golden crowned spire, though we’ll need to be closer to make out the elephant-headed statues on the terraces.
4. DHAMMAYANGYI TEMPLE
Dhammayangi could be one of the pyramids of Egypt when viewed from a distance. This massive redbrick temple, though never completed, is the largest in Bagan. It was built with very tight, interlocking brickwork at the behest of the wicked King Narathu. I think I prefer to view this temple’s magnificence from afar, if only to avoid Narathu’s ghost, which legend holds still walks its halls.
5. MAHABODHI TEMPLE
While it’s a pale shadow of the India temple of the same name, Bagan’s Mahabodhi is still a unique contrast to the surrounding pagodas. Built to commemorate the Buddha’s attaining enlightenment, the perfectly square main structure and layered pyramidal white top certainly merits a closer inspection.
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