General

Watch dogs 1 map

Watch dogs 1 map

Watch dogs 1 map], the oldest temple in Bagan, and its guardian (Santhitathi) lives here, too.

Near the Santhitathi's temple are several large and interesting stupas, the last of which is the biggest, the Maha Vihara, also known as Maha Samudra, or Great Lake Temple [map].

At the back of the Maha Vihara is the Buddha's Tooth Relic. It's kept in a huge golden case that weighs more than 250 kg (550 lb) and is surrounded by gold bars weighing an estimated 50 kg (110 lb) apiece. This relic is kept on the top of a huge lotus, or amalaka, whose petals rest on the shoulders of a golden lion. The entire thing is surrounded by a huge gold statue of the Buddha. The statue, like the relic, weighs more than 20 tonnes.

At the northern end of the site, the New Rd Rd is named for its attractive Buddhist temple, the New Bagan, built in 1894 by a Burmese architect. In its grounds are some well-preserved stupas. It is also here that the New Rd Rd meets the old Bagan Rd.

Tip

Bagan's biggest draw is the sight of the vast and ancient temples, which are in a constant state of change and restoration. This also applies to the site's entrance fee, which is set by the government and varies annually. The site entrance fee has dropped considerably in recent years. You can get good discounts if you visit outside peak hours.

North of Bagan

Bagan is known as a sacred city for the Burmese, which has been the country's political capital since the early 19th century, but it's also home to the largest number of Buddhist shrines and monasteries in the world. The region north of the town is filled with dozens of monasteries and temples, including some that are hundreds of years old. The most spectacular is the huge Shwesandaw Pagoda, whose gold-tipped spire towers over Bagan. Its name means'stupa of the giant', and it is the largest single stupa in the world. It was constructed around the 9th century and is built entirely of wood and metal, there is no brick or mortar. It's sd to hold the ashes of Buddha himself.

At the top of the stupa is a gold-topped spire in the form of a lotus flower, housing the ashes of the Buddha himself. A monk sits inside, and a little red-faced buddha watches over visitors.

To get here, follow the mn Bagan Rd northwards for 7km (4 miles). The Shwesandaw Pagoda lies about a kilometre from the Bagan Rd.

The Bagan Royal Botanic Garden, just north of Bagan and about a 15-minute walk from the Shwesandaw Pagoda, is the home of over 2,000 species of flowers and plants from all over the world, and is open to visitors.

Around the Shwesandaw Pagoda are a series of temples and monasteries with their own distinct styles. Most of them are small and contn little that is of great interest to visitors. They include the Shwegugyi Pagoda, which contns the relic of the Buddha's left arm, and the Zu-U Shwe-Pon-Pyin Temple.

The former capital

At the eastern end of the site, in an area known as the Eastern Palace, are a few temples and shrines that are particularly interesting, if only because they were the capital of the ancient Burmese kingdom.

The Pahtodawgyi Buddha Temple ( [map] is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and contns a huge reclining Buddha of gold. This is one of the few places in the country that you can see a statue of Buddha that is complete with its own body odour. The temple is also home to some beautiful murals.

A little further east of the Pahtodawgyi Buddha Temple is the Nandawshwe Temple. Built around the 12th century, it is an ornate example of early Burmese architecture, with elaborately carved wooden pillars supporting a roof.

Around the Shwegugyi Pagoda

In front of the Shwesandaw Pagoda is a row of old Burmese-style houses, which are now occupied by various government offices and the local military barracks.

The area south of the Shwesandaw Pagoda is an open space filled with monastic buildings. This was formerly the home of the powerful Khwaja Digha Nikaya, or Holy Community of Bagan, one of the world's oldest Buddhist orders. It was founded around the 4th century by the famous Indian Buddhist scholar Asanga, and has been continuously occupied since. The order is split into smaller communities, each with their own rules and traditions. Visitors can enter one of these temples by paying a small donation.

South of here are the remns of two monasteries, Dhammyayayadaw Monastery and the Bagan Shwe Hta Michan Monastery ( [map], which are still in use. Both are connected by a maze of passageways.

A short walk south of the Shwesandaw Pagoda is the Shwegugyi Pagoda. This pagoda has a unique feature: its foundation was ld by a woman. It is sd that a woman offered Buddha a cup of her milk and this is where the Buddha asked her to build the temple on that spot.

Fact

In a city renowned for its Buddhist sites, it is worth checking out the Shwesandaw Temple. It was built in 756 by Shwegugyi, a prominent Buddhist woman who led the community in the area for 40 years and served as regent to the first king of the independent Burma. She is sd to have fed 100,000 people from the food she rsed from her own fields.

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