There is one temple in Bagan which is highly recommended by guides and people there, it is Ananda Pahto, and there are good reasons why – it’s one of the largest, finest and most importantly, the most-preserved temple in Bagan. Coming from the road on the north plain this was the main temple on the east, outside the walls of Old Bagan. It’s very popular so the presence of the vendor stands leading to the Pahto’s main entrance is expected. Beyond them I marvelled at the beautiful white-washed temple with a golden corn-like stupa glimmering at the mid-day sun.
The cool wind gliding inside the multi-layered hallways of Ananda Pahto made exploring the vestibular interior a lot pleasurable. Built around 1090 AD, if seen from the top, the architecture resembles a cross with 4 entrances and 4 Buddha’s facing 4 different directions. It’s hallow interiors was the reason the air can circulate freely but what amazed me was the details put in on the labarynthe-like corridors with probably hundreds of Buddhas in a repetitive pattern framed inside the decorated interior windows. The lower windows are now barred probably to prevent temple thieves from getting them which has been a major problem here in Bagan.
Ananda Pahto is a victim of temple robbery which resulted in two (the east and west facing Buddhas) of the four 31 feet Buddhas being destroyed when it was razed by fire in 1600s. But Ananda Pahto didn’t lose lustre. They were replaced with the same solid teak wood the originals were made. With the dim lighting in the halls, the Buddha’s gilded images were accentuated by beautiful lighting making it look like there were floating high up the corridors.
I stepped outside to a large open ground behind the Pahto and admired the temple from afar. I was astounded by the level of details put into the terraced crown of this temple. The numerous lions carved and the walls with plaques also had mind-blowing details. I could see the walls dry and peeling, in my mind I can imagine how it would look in its glory days. There are also life-size gargoyle-looking lion guardians at the door. Even the designs on the bells on the open ground caught my attention.
I could already feel head and eyelids getting heavy as I head out back to my horse cart. I did catch a few kids playing by the entrance walkway and took shots of them who were also eager to have their pictures taken. We visited Thatbinnyu Paya after (which I’ll just tackle on a later post for Old Bagan) then asked Mime to head back to May Kha Lar so I could rest. I felt tired and decided to have my lunch later and sleep first and resume my exploration in the afternoon.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.