< ">Bagan is a plain that covers an area of about 16 squares miles alongside the Ayeyarwaddy’s east bank. The temples and Pagodas of Bagan that are now decaying were constructed mainly between the 11th and 13th centuries A.D., which was during the time that Bagan was the Myanmar dynasty seat. Local chronicles have carried tradition that says that 55 kings ruled over the Bagan kingdom over twelve centuries.
The Bagan temples are known as “gu” and were inspiration from the Buddhist rock caves. These were big multi-story buildings that the people could enter and were places where people went to worship, with the interior having richly frescoed corridors and sacred images and shrines that would be worshiped. The temples are often massively built oblong or square structures with terraces on the outside to represent Mount Meru, which was a symbolic home for the gods. The Bagan temples would also be surrounded by a wall made to be thick so that it would separate the sacred realm from the world outside.
The pagodas of Bagan are funerary monuments that have acquired a Buddhism cosmic symbolism. The Bagan pagodas also contain relics that are associated with Buddha. Some of the monuments were constructed in honor of a notable person, being built to bring lasting memories for important families as well. These structures are built in the shape of a bell that is set on an octagonal or square base, and they usually stand to a tapering peak covered with jewels and metal, with a sacred decoration shaped like a parasol (called “hti”) on the top.