formerly Pagan
Temples in Bagan
[[image:Template:Location map Burma|250px|Bagan is located in Template:Location map Burma]]
<div style="position: absolute; z-index: 2; top: Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "[".%; left: Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "[".%; height: 0; width: 0; margin: 0; padding: 0;">
[[Image:Template:Location map Burma|6x6px|link=|alt=]]
</div>Location of Bagan, Burma
Coordinates: 21°10′N 94°53′E / 21.167°N 94.883°E / 21.167; 94.883
Country Burma (Myanmar)
Admin. division Mandalay Division
 - Ethnicities Bamar
 - Religions Buddhism

Bagan (Burmese: ပုဂံ; MLCTS: pu.gam, pronounced [pəɡàN]), formerly Pagan, is an ancient city in the Mandalay Division of Burma. Formally titled Arimaddanapura or Arimaddana (the City of the Enemy Crusher) and also known as Tambadipa (the Land of Copper) or Tassadessa (the Parched Land), it was the ancient capital of several ancient kingdoms in Burma. It is located in the dry central plains of the country, on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River, 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Mandalay.

Bagan was submitted to become a UNESCO heritage site[1] but many speculate of politics as partly the reason for the exclusion. UNESCO does not designate Bagan as a World Heritage Site. The main reason given is that the military junta (SPDC) has haphazardly restored ancient stupas, temples and buildings, ignoring original architectural styles and using modern materials which bear little or no resemblance to the original designs. The junta has also established a golf course, a paved highway, and built a 200-foot (61-m) watchtower in the southeastern suburb of Minnanthu.[2]

Architectural styles

The religious buildings of Bagan are often reminiscent of popular architectural styles in the period of their constructions. The most common types are:

  • Stupa with a relic-shaped dome
  • Stupa with tomb-shaped dome
  • Sinhalese-styled stupa
  • North Indian model
  • Central Indian model
  • South Indian model
  • Mon model



A view of Bagan

The ruins of Bagan cover an area of 16 square miles. The majority of its buildings were built in the 1000s to 1200s, during the time Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire. It was not until King Pyinbya moved the capital to Bagan in AD 874 that it became a major city. However, in Burmese tradition, the capital shifted with each reign, and thus Bagan was once again abandoned until the reign of Anawrahta. In 1057, King Anawrahta conquered the Mon capital of Thaton, and brought back the Tripitaka Pali scriptures, Buddhist monks and craftsmen and all of these were made good use of in order to transform Bagan into a religious and cultural centre. With the help of a monk from Lower Burma, Anawrahta made Theravada Buddhism a kind of state religion, and the king also established contacts with Sri Lanka. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Bagan became a truly cosmopolitan centre of Buddhist studies, attracting monks and students from as far as India, Sri Lanka as well as the Thai and Khmer kingdoms. Among many other works, Aggavaṃsa's influential Saddanīti, a grammar of the language of the Tipiṭaka, would be completed there in 1154. In 1287, the kingdom fell to the Mongols, after refusing to pay tribute to Kublai Khan. Abandoned by the Burmese king and perhaps sacked by the Mongols, the city declined as a political centre, but continued to flourish as a place of Buddhist scholarship.

Rulers of Bagan
Name Relationship Reign (AD) Notes
Thamudarit 107-152 founder of Bagan
Pyinbya Son of Khelu 846-878 moved capital from Tampawadi (modern Pwasaw) to Bagan
Anawrahta Son of Kunsaw Kyaunghpyu 1044-1077 founder of Bagan and the First Burmese Empire
Sawlu Son 1077-1084
Kyanzittha Brother 1084-1113
Alaungsithu Grandson 1113-1167 1113-1160(?)
Narathu Son 1167-1170 1160-1165(?), aka Kala-gya Min (king fallen by Indians)
Naratheinkha Son 1170-1173
Narapatisithu Brother 1174-1211
Htilominlo Son 1211-1234 aka Nandaungmya (one who often asked for the throne)
Kyaswa Son 1234-1250
Uzana of Pagan Son 1250-1255
Narathihapate Son 1255-1287 lost the kingdom to the Mongols and known as Tayoke Pyay Min (king who fled from the Chinese) to posterity
Kyawswa Son 1287-1298
Sawhnit Son 1298-1325
Sawmunnit Son 1325-1369

Although Anawrahta is accounted for the founding of Bagan, Thamudarit is listed as the "traditional" founder of Bagan in The Glass Palace Chronicle (Hmannan Yazawin).

Cultural sites

Bagan, Hpaya-thon-zu-Group

The Payathonzu Temple is built in the Mon style.

Ruins of Bagan, 1999

Bagan at dawn, 1999.


Bagan at sunrise, 1999.


Sister cities

See also


  • Pictorial Guide to Pagan. 2nd ed. Rangoon: Ministry of Culture, 1975.
  • Pagan - Art and Architecture of Old Burma Paul Strachan 1989, Kiscadale, Arran, Scotland.
  • Glimpses of Glorious Pagan Department of History, University of Rangoon, The Universities Press 1986.
  • [The Map of Bagan]Bagan Map. DPS Online Maps.
  • " Pagan: The Origins of Modern Burma", Micheal Aung-Thwin, University of Hawaii Press, 1985.
  • "The Mists of Ramanna: The Legend that was Lower Burma", Michael Aung-Thwin, University of Hawaii Press, 2005. This is a critical examination of the role of the Mon in the Pagan kingdom.

External links

Coordinates: 21°10′N 94°53′E / 21.167°N 94.883°E / 21.167; 94.883 Template:Mandalay Divisionca:Baganid:Baganla:Pagan lt:Baganasja:バガンpt:Bagan ru:Паган sh:Bagan sv:Pagan th:พุกาม vi:Bagan