It's really hard to find an ugly spot in Bagan. With literally thousands of temples and pagodas on the plains, you are instantly transported to a time and place that commands appreciation. What remains is only a fraction of what once was. There's an unmistakably charming feeling to being surrounded by so many temples and pagodas. It's the kind of sensory overload most people may never experience, never venturing out far enough outside their comfort zones to have a true travel adventure, but the kind I wholeheartedly encourage.
Just thinking about the time and effort that was required to build these structures is mind boggling. What must life have been like 800 years ago, growing up and being immersed in a land so rich in Buddhist culture? How could you even think of anything else but religion in a place like this? How different must your view of the world had you been born in 13th century Bagan?
Sunset in Bagan is a magical time. If I had the time, I think I would spend a sunset at nearly every temple's terrace. The views get old slowly. For this particular sunset, I went to the popular Shwe Sandaw Pagoda. Looking out, the That Byin Nyu Temple dominates the scene with the nearby Shwegu Gyi Temple off to the right.
A few interesting facts about Thatbyinnyu Temple. For starters, it's the tallest structure in Bagan and was built in 1144. The name is one of the attributes of the Buddha, and means "Omniscience" which the Buddha attained when reaching enlightenment. But what I really found interesting about this beautiful temple? It has its own cave pagoda, which is known as a "Tally Pagoda." Supposedly, for every 10,000 bricks used in the construction of Thatbyinnyu, one brick was put aside to count the total number of bricks used in the whole structure. This "Tally Pagoda" was built of these bricks kept aside.
One of many incredible sunset views in Bagan.