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The ancient city of the Bagan is the seat of civilization for early Burmese kingdoms and is home to thousands of ancient pagodas and temples. We have to agree with the Lonely Planet guidebook stating that Bagan is not only the most wondrous sight in Myanmar, but rivals Cambodia's Angkor Wat in terms of scope and jaw-droppability. All of the glorious sights can be attributed to a handful of kings as Bagan flourished only for a few hundreds of years.
It is very difficult to decide which temples to visit in Bagan. We've selected the following list of monuments because each of them represents a specific architectural style and a period in Bagan history.
Ananda pahto, built by King Kyansittha (1084-1113) in 1105 is a must for all visitors of Bagan, a masterpiece of Buddhist architecture. The king's reign was largely peaceful and as a great admirer of Mon culture, he pursued a conciliatory policy towards the Mon of the south. Thus Ananda temple follows Mon traditions, and although being seriously hit by the 1975 earthquake it has totally been restored since then. On the occasion of 900th anniversary of its construction celebrated in 1990s the temple spires were gilded.
Most monuments of Bagan don't have a specific name and can only be identified with their unique numbers. Pagoda No. 2100 belongs to these anonymous monuments, nothing is known about its founder or construction date. Again, the stunning panoramic view of North-Bagan especially at sunset from the terrace of the building is the real attraction.
King Anawrahta was a famous king of Bagan (1044-1077) who turned a small principality in Upper Burma into the first Burmese Empire. His troops ventured into Lower Burma and occupied the Mon kingdom of Thaton by 1057. Shwesandaw paya was erected just after his victory and became the center of his newly empowered kingdom.
Sulamani pahto is one of Bagan's most attractive temples with its two-storey pyramid-like brick architecture. It combines horizontal planes of the early period with the vertical lines of the middle. Founder of the temple was King Narapatisithu, ruler of Bagan from 1173 to 1210. Construction works started about 1181 and the temple got the name “Crowning jewel”. Like several other temples of Bagan, it was hit by the 1975 earthquake but was restored to its former glory since that time.