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Shwegugyi temple in 360°
Shwegugyi paya is an example of Bagan architecture of the middle period of the empire. It was built by King Alaungsithu around 1131, who ruled from 1113 to 1167.
1. What to see
Name of the temple stands for “Great Golden Cave”, reminding us of the fact, that Bagan temples were erected as replicas of sacred caves. Since it is located just in front of the royal palace, it was also called as "Nandaw Oo Paya" meaning the "Pagoda in front of the palace". Structurally it is a two-tiered monument, a reminder of an age when monuments became airy and light. Inside there are seated Buddha-images and fine carvings.
2. Legend of the temple
Legend has it that once upon a time, a huge pile of bricks emerged from the plains of Bagan as a reward for the king's greatness of accumulated merit. Thus was the basement of the temple built using these bricks and the building was completed within 7 months and 7 days. Another legend says that King Alaungsithu was thrown out of his palace by his son when he became old and ill and finally died here.
3. When to see
The temples of Bagan can be visited from sunrise till sunset. Please note that terraces of popular sunset spots might get closed.
5. Nearby monuments
Pahto Thamya is a cave pagoda of early period of Bagan. Its name means „sons of the stupa”, referring to the fact, that its bell-shaped main stupa used to be surrounded by lots of small stupas along the terrace and at the corners. The main stupa is unique with its 12-angled layout. It concentric rings were damaged by the earthquake in 1975.
Nathlaung Kyaung is the only remaining Hindu temple in Bagan. It belongs to the earliest temples of the city since it was built either during the 10th or the 11th century. Historians consider its founder either King Nyaung-u Sawrahan or King Anawratha. As it was dedicated to Vishnu, it contained statues of the 10 Avatars of Vishnu out of which seven remained.
Thatbyinnyu is a magnificent 11th century temple built by King Alaungsithu. It was devoted to the Omniscience of Buddha, as its name suggests. Its rectangular-shaped layout with porticoes on each side follows Ananda temple with one significant difference: the east portico is larger and breaks the symmetry. Another interesting feature is that Thatbyinnyu temple is one of the earliest two-storey buildings in Bagan.
Gawdawpalin is the second tallest temple of Bagan, built during the 12th century. Construction works were started by king Narapatisithu and it was finally completed by his successor, Htilominlo. Layout of the temple resembles Thatbyinnyu temple that follows Ananda temple with one significant difference: the east portico is larger and breaks the symmetry.
Mahabodhi temple was built after the famous Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya, Bihar State, India, where Buddha attained enlightenment. The present temple in India dates back to the 5-6th century AD, while this one in Bagan was erected during the reign of King Nantaungmya in the 13th century. Its square-based pyramidal structure makes this temple completely unique compared to the bell-shaped stupas of typical Bagan temples.