The Jewel of Myanmar – Bagan
My friend told me to visit Bulethi (also, Buledi). It seemed as if this red brick pagoda promised nothing special, looking as ordinary as the next temple. My travel buddy and I found it difficult to operate our e-bikes while navigating through the dusty road leading to the pagoda. We almost missed the pagoda because there were no signages. There are plenty of pagodas that look alike, so you have to look carefully. It was quite an ordeal getting to it. When we finally found it, I thought our troubles were over only to find out that we had to climb the narrow small and steep stairs sans handrails!
But come early evening, we saw the most poetic scenery of an orange sun setting on the plains while we perched beside a fellow traveler high up on the temple. Totally worth all that trouble! It was one peaceful scene that allowed me to clear my mind of worries. I just sat down on top of that small quiet pagoda, thankful for everything.
Shwenandaw wasn’t part of my go-to list but my guide-cum-horsecart driver suggested it when I asked for a less crowded spot for enjoying the sunset. I found nothing online about its history. The Pagoda is made of red brick as with most other pagodas. You have to climb a steep flight of brick stairs to the second level which is also the “rooftop”. It is on this level where I witnessed again another exotic sunset. This is my favorite pagoda – a simple one with no wall carvings but enough space to see the sunset casting a beautiful silhouette on the majestic Ananda and Thatbyinnyu and other smaller temples.
More Temples and Pagodas
There is a myriad of temples and pagodas to visit in Bagan. Here are some tips especially if you have only two or three days in the city. Shwezigon Paya is the closest pagoda from the touristic Nyaung U area. This Golden temple reminds me of Sule, Botahtaung and Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon city maybe because of the gold ornament applied all over the construction. Bu Paya is definitely a must visit if only because it has Irrawaddy River as a background.
Mahabody Temple is just five minutes away by horse cart. This fascinating temple has similar design and architecture to the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India. Shwegugyi Temple also has beautiful shape with beautiful view of Thatbyinnyu from the rooftop. Lastly, Htilominlo Pagoda has amazing horoscopes inscribed on the walls in order to secure the sacred site against damage or destruction.