Monday, July 8, 2013

Bagan where temples abound- A photo essay

Bagan is a dry and dusty plain dotted with a formidable number of archaeological ruins and semi-restored temples.

 From a distance it appears like something from another world but up close the sites take on a neglected and disused appearance.

Gaudy flashing lights surround Buddha’s head and adorn the altars in some pagodas while in others the state of disrepair within is astounding. 

The almost completely faded or disintegrating frescoes leave you guessing about how grand they must have once been. 

The unkempt and upswept corridors are sad but not empty. 

Devoted followers of the path, entrepreneurial optimists, would- be-guides, local youth at a loose end and traditional artists populate the temples, roadways and courtyards. 

There are good reasons why it has yet to become a world heritage site but the sheer scale and layout of the area put the place in a similar category to Angkor Wat.

 It is ancient and crumbling but also awe inspiring and majestic. It is deserted, abandoned, restored, neglected and fully functioning by turns. 

There are exterior platforms which afford breathtaking views across the plains and intricate details that have endured within.

Whilst one could easily be overwhelmed by all there is to take in, at least in this low season the quiet of the interiors and the lack of crowds make ambling along the corridors of the inner chambers marvelling at what remains a calming and reflective pastime as well as a being a refuge from the heat. 

Welcome breezes whistle through the windows and enable one to cool off enough to head off to the next site refreshed and renewed for the many rebuttals required to run the gauntlet of stallholders seeking sales. 

Hopefully some of the tourist dollars will provide the much-needed funds to bring about more restoration. 

Original structures date from the 9th century and extend to well into the 12th with continual renovation and addition and but as it stands right now it is still remarkable and enduring evidence of the long Buddhist tradition of Myanmar. 

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