The amazing collection of temples in Bagan
Even though Cambodia remains my favorite country in South-East Asia so far, with Angkor Wat as one of its most amazing sceneries, I did like more the “rival” Bagan in Myanmar. It is not included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is less known and less well-maintained, but I felt it closer to what a temple or even more, a complex of temples, should make one feel: a sense of calm, peace, inner contentment.
Maybe it’s because it is a lot less commercial, with only few tourists scattered around a large area, or because there is no such “main temple” where hundreds of people gather at one time for sunrise or sunset or, simply, maybe it’s because you can easily do it without any guide or driver, in your own rhythm…
For those who have never heard about Bagan (I admit I didn’t before starting to read about “Top 10 Myanmar”), it is a place in central Myanmar, home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world with many dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. Apparently as many as 13000 temples and stupas once stood on this 42 km2 area and approximately 2200 remain today in various states of disrepair. Some are large and well maintained while others are tumbledown relics in the middle of the overgrown grass.
We visited the whole area by bike during one day and a half, with no pre-planned route or target. We reached places with no roads, so we just biked through the dry plain, we entered deserted temples full of silence, just like some petrified guardians of the time. It was a quiet day, with few words, few people, few necessities!