Friday, November 29, 2013

Bagan History


 Bagan History

The monuments seem to overwhelm the landscape. There are about 2,000 of them covering an area of 16 square miles on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady in central Myanmar. They are in different sizes and in a bewildering variety of shapes. They are also in varying stages of preservation and disrepair. Some of them throb with life, visited by devotees, a few have become little more than piles of bricks.

    Whence do they come, these monuments? Who built them? Why?

To find an answer to questions such as these one has to travel back in time, to a time when Bagan flourished as a royal city, the heart of a great kingdom.

Tradition has it that Bagan was founded by Thamoddarit in the early 2nd century. But perhaps it would be better to date the Bagan of the monuments from its establishment as a walled city, with twelve gates and a moat, by King Pyinbya in 849. The chronicles give a list of kings who reigned at Bagan from Thamoddarit onwards, with Pyinbya as the 34th king. But legend is inextricably mingled with history, and sometimes overshadow it, in the accounts of the kings in the chronicles, and it is only with the 42nd king in the list, Anawrahta, that Bagan emerges into the clear light of history.

The two and a half centuries from Anawahta's( 1044-1077) accession to the throne in 1044 to the flight of Narathihapate (1256-1287) from the capital in 1283 in the face of the Mongol invasion were the years of Bagan's greatness. The kingdom stretched from Bhamo in the north and far down to the south, from the Thanlwin river in the east to the Western Yoma in the west. Bagan was known as Tattadesa, the Parched Land, to the Mons, and not much rice was grown in the environs of the capital itself. But the royal city could draw upon the rich rice granaries of Kyaukse, 90 miles to the northeast, and Minbu, 70 miles to the south. The Ayeyarwady river linked it to the sea and to the commerce of the Indian Ocean. There was much intercourse with neighbouring countries. Support was given to King Vijaya Bahu I (105 9-1114) of Sri Lanka to sustain him in his struggle against the Chola of southern India to help him re-establish a purified Buddhism. Missions were sent to the northern Song capital of Kaifeng. Repairs were made to the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya in northern India.

Perhaps more salient than all these indications of economic well-being and political power was the fact that Buddhism flourished exceedingly in Bagan. Tradition, basing itself upon the Sinhalese chronicle, the Mahavamsa, attributes the origins of Buddhism in Myanmar to the mission of Sona and Uttara who, in the 3rd century B.C., came to Suvannabhumi, usually identified with That on, on the Gulf of Mottama. Some modern scholars dispute this point. But even if tradition is to be ignored, there can be no denying that Buddhism was already flourishing in Myanmar in the 1st century A.D., as attested by the archaeological evidence at Peikthanomyo (Vishnu City), 90 miles southeast of Bagan. Buddhism was also an invigorating influence at Thayekhittaya, near modern Pyaymyo 160 miles south of Bagan, where a developed civilization flourished from the 5th to the 9th century.

Notwithstanding the fact that Buddhism had enjoyed a long history in Myanmar before the 11th century, the reign of Anawrahta provided a landmark in the development of Buddhism in Myanmar. Anawrahta was a king of strong religious zeal as well as one of great power. His clay votive tablets, made to acquire merit, are found widely in Myanmar from Katha in the north to Twante in the south. These votive tablets usually have, on the obverse, a seated image of the Buddha in the earth-touching attitude, with two lines underneath which express the essence of the Buddhist creed:

    The Buddha hath the causes told
    Of all things springing from causes;
    And also how things cease to be,
    'Tis this the Mighty Monk proclaims.

On the reverse would be the prayer:

    Desiring that he may be freed from samscira the Great Prosperous King Aniruddha himself made this image of the Lord.

The chronicles relate that a monk from Thaton, Shin Arahan, came to Anawrahta in Bagan and preached to him the Law, on which Anawrahta was seized with an ecstasy of faith and said, "Master, we have no other refuge than thee! From this day forth, my master, we dedicate our body and our life to thee! And, master, from thee I take my doctrine!" Shin Arahan further taught Anawrahta that without the Scriptures, the Tipitaka, there could be no study, and that it was only with the Tipitaka that the Religion would last long. Anawrahta, informed that there were thirty sets of the Tipitaka at Thaton, sent an envoy with presents to its king,Manuha, and asked for the Tipitaka. Manuha refused, on which Anawrahta sent a mighty army, conquered Thaton, and brought back the thirty sets of Tipitaka on Manuha's thirty-two white elephants, as well as Manuha and his court and all manners of artisans and craftsmen.

From its patronage by Anawrahta is usually dated the flourishing of Theravada Buddhism in Myanmar, and the monuments of Bagan, with only a few exceptions, are all monuments of Theravada Buddhism.

The establishment of Theravada Buddhism as the dominant religion of Myanmar did not preclude the existence of other schools and beliefs. Prior to the coming of Buddhism there existed in Myanmar a folk religion which involved the worship of nats or spirits to whom offerings were made. The spirits were not only those of nature, but also of personages who had died a violent or tragic death. At Bagan the cult of the Mahagiri ("Great Mountain") rato-brother and sister who had their abode at Mount Popa, 40 miles to the southeast of Bagan-was particularly strong This folk religion persisted in a symbiotic existence with Theravada Buddhism at Bagan. But that was not all. Mahayana Buddhism, with its pantheon of Bodhisattvas who had postponed their entry into nirvana to help their fellow creatures find salvation, also continued to have a tenuous presence at Bagan, a presence which can be detected in some of the details of the monuments. There was a presence too of Hinduism, which the court drew upon for some of its rituals and ceremonies.

Religious fervour, brought on by the flowering of Theravada Buddhism, inspired the men and women of Bagan to undertake great works of merit and to give lavishly to the Religion. The donation of a noble lady is thus recorded:

    When our Lord Kinkathu passed away, our Lord's wife, who loved her husband as her own life, was agitated at the law of instability and made three dwellings to the Three Gems. Out of a heart of boundless faith she built the three dwellings wishing that the merit of her good deed would go to the three persons: her deceased lord, her mother and her father. Her private property, the nine kinds of gems, her gold and silver, red copper and white copper, iron, lead, her outward property, such as boats, elephants, cattle, buffaloes, goats, ivory, and her slaves and lands and gardens-in order that such property might be a support to the Religion, she offered them without stint to the Lords"s Religion and allotted them to the three dwellings, and, calling the earth to witness, she poured the water of offering.

The usual aspiration in these religious donations w as to acquire merit, be reborn in the celestial realms, to come into the presence of Metteyva, the next Buddha, and finally to attain nibbana. But sometimes the aspiration would rise higher-to that of Buddhahood itself. A good example of this aspiration is provided by the dedicatory prayer-written in elegant Pali verse-offered by King Alaungsithu (1113-1163) on building the Shwegugyi temple in 1131:

    By merit of this act I would behold
    Metteyya, captain of the world, endued
    With two and thirty emblems, where he walks
    Enhaloed on a rainbow pathway fair
    Like Meru King of mountains, and sets free
    Samsara's captives by his holy words.
    There might I hear good Law, and bending low
    Offer the four things needful to the Lord
    And all his monks, till clad in virtues eight
    Informed by such a Teacher, I become
    A Buddha in the eyes of spirits and men...

A noble aspiration indeed! But whatever the aspiration, the merit acquired by the donation was not meant for the donor alone, but for all. Thus Queen Pwa Saw made this prayer of dedication:

    May my noble husband lord the king, my son the king, my grandson the king, these three kings, and all the future kings to come share equally with me the merit of this work. May the princes and princesses, the queen and all her ladies-in-waiting, the ministers and all the hosts, the Thagya, Brahma, the four Guardians of the world and all the spirits, Tataw the Yama King, men and other beings who dwell in our would-system and other world-systems from Avici hell below to the celestial realms above also get a share of my merit. May they escape the miseries of samsara and reach nibbana which is free from misery." With great magnanim-ity, then, Queen Pwa Saw shared the merit of her act with all beings of the thirty-one realms: the twenty celestial realms of the brahmas, the six celestial realms of the thagyas or devas, the mundane realm, and even the four hells.

The donors of Bagan indeed gave lavishly to the Religion. But what were the expenses of building the pagodas and temples which they built in such profusion? It is to be remembered that the workmen employed for the building were free men who had to be provided with board and wages. Princess Asawkyun le this list of expenses for the building of a temple:
Grand total of silver     1747     (ticals) 3 pay
Grand total of copper     74     viss
Grand total of loincloth     113     pieces
Grand total of gold for smearing the spire     23     ticals
Grand total of quicksilver     92     ticals
Grand total of paddy     1867'/2     baskets
Grand total of areca nuts     2     barrels and 1166?
Grand total of black pepper     7/23     viss
Grand total of salt     754     viss
Grand total of copper for the spire     66     viss

The builders of Bagan built both with wood and with brick, but the wooden buildings have been destroyed and only the brick remain. Since brick structures abounded at Peikthanomyo in the 1st century, there was already a millenium-old tradition of brick masonry when the men of Bagan began to give expression to their religious fervour in brick. The builders of Bagan built in brick with masterful ease and the brickwork of the Bagan monuments is excellent-the bricks are fashioned with care and made to fit together with so little intervening space that the mortar is hardly visible. Not only have architectural forms derived from India been assimilated and reshaped but the true or voussoir arch-unknown in India - and its extension, the vault, is used with great effectiveness.
Sources:baganmyanmar.com

Thursday, November 28, 2013

SWCL-4

A PAIR OF ANCIENT CITIES (SWCL-4) 
Day 1 Yangon –Bagan


After breakfast at your hotel, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to airport to set forth for touring in Bagan. At Nyaung U airport, your driver will pick you up and lead you to your hotel. After refreshing for a while; we will begin touring in bagan for a half day. Overnight in Bagan.(L/D)
Day 2 Mount Popa –Salay



Your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel to start touring mount Popa and Salay. Mount Popa is an extinct volcano with stupas and spirits known as Nats.Now we will climb up the 777 steps to the top of volcanic plug .At the top, you can look around amazing mountain sceneries.Next,after for an hour and a half drive you will get in to Salay, an old religious center ,located at the eastern bank of Ayeyawaddy river. There is a famous monastery in Salay and also native town of salay U Pone Nya who was famous in Kong baung era .Salay Yoke Sone Kyaung was built in AD 1882 and amazing artistic work woodcarvings around it. Overnight in Bagan hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 3 Bagan



After breakfast at your hotel, begin touring bagan starting at Shwezigon Pagoda, a prototype of ancient Myanmar stupa.Then you will be transferred to Wetkyi-in Gubyaukgyi Temple with fine fresco. Next Myinkabar village where you can observe local famous lacquer ware industry.Manuhar temple with huge Buddha image is tighten in the temple that was expressed by a captive king, Manuhar how he was suffering in the life of prison. Then you will be transferred to Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece of old bagan era. After that Thatbyinnyu which is highest temple of bagan.Next to Dhammayangyi, a massive Temple with the finest brickwork. Before lunch break, you will be at Sulamuni Temple where you can see fine fresco from 18th century Konebaung era. At the end of the day we will enjoy sunset from Bupaya. Stay overnight at your hotel in Bagan. (B/L/D)
Day 4 Bagan-Mandalay



Today departure must be early due to you will be transferred to your port ,you will be transferred to Nyaung U jetty to embark your cruise for sightseeing along the Ayerawaddy river .Estimated departure is 6:00 am and arrival is around about 6:00 pm.Overnight in Mandalay hotel.(B/L/D)
Day-5 Mandalay-Amarapura-Sagaing-Ava



After breakfast at your hotel, your driver will pick you up to begin at Amarapura, a former capital whose name means ‘City of Immortality’ then visit Mahagandayon monastery, when over one-thousand monks reside. Then we will go cross Ayeyarwaddy River to reach to Sagaing where there are over 600 white coloured pagodas and many monasteries so that Sagaing is accepted as quiet and peace place for being religious zone. There are also about 3000 monks and over 100 meditation centre .Then we carry on Swan Oo Ponnya Shin Pogada, Kaung Mutaw and over 30 caves. Next, we continue to Ava which is an ancient throne city in 14th and 18th century. We can tour in Ava with horse carts and we can observe fine ancient architecture at Mahar Aung Myae Bonsan and Vargaya monasteries and ancient city wall. Next, we go on to Amarapura where there is a bridge known as U Pein Bridge which is crossing over Taung Thanman Lake over 200 year ago. We can feel amazing view of U Pein Bridge and Taung Thanman Lake. Overnight in Mandalay hotel. (B/L/D)
Day-6 Mandalay



After breakfast at your hotel, we will start touring at Mahar Myat Muni huge Buddha image that the most admirable pagoda in Mandalay. After that we will continue to gold leaf plating ward where those who live in traditionally making gold leaf which can offer to Buddha images and pagodas,next in traditional handicrafts in Mandalay such as marble masonry, silver smith and so on. Then ancient golden palace monastery which is made only with teak and one of the finest woodcarving work Kaungbaung era.Next,729 stone scripts known as the world biggest book located within Kaungmutaw pagoda compound. In the evening, we will be heading to Mandalay hill; here you can see amazing view of sunset. Overnight in Mandalay hotel. (B/L/D)
Day-7 Mandalay -Yangon



After breakfast at your hotel, your driver will pick you up to transfer to Mandalay Airport, then at the Yangon Airport your driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel.(B)


                                         RATES AND CONDITIONS
                                              ACCOMMODATION

CITY
HOTEL
ROOM TYPE
Bagan
Bagan Umbra Hotel (or) Similar Hotel
superior
Mandalay
Shwe Ye Mon (or) Similar Hotel
superior

PRICING – in USD per person for shared twin/double
Rates are valid until 30 Sep 2015


1Pax
2
3-4
5-6
7-10
Remarks
1872
1272
975
793
748
Website Rates
2028
1378
1056
860
810
Published Rates


Above fare can be changed due to fuel surcharge and currency exchange rate

Our services include: 
• Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room with daily breakfast
• Meals as mentioned in the program (B= breakfast, L= lunch, D= dinner)
• English-speaking guide 
• Cruise Nyaung U to Mandalay
• All transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles
• Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program
• Water and refreshing towels on touring days
Our services do not include: 
• International ticket and Domestic tickets to/from Yangon
• Visa for Myanmar
• Meals other than mentioned
• Visits not mentioned in the program
• Drinks and personal expenses
• Any other items not mentioned

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SWC-7

City Tour Full day -2(SWC-7) 
Beyond and Centre of Yangon 


Program Detail
After breakfast your guide and driver will greet and meet you at your hotel then you will be transferred to Pansodan jetty to go across Hlaing River to get to Dala like a rural area. In carry ship, you can feed gulls following your ship. At the jetty of Dala, you'll see crowded people waiting ship to go across Hlaing River and junk foods sellers. Near jetty there are bus stand for delta regions, motor cycle hire stand and trishaws. We will choose trishaw to go around Dala for sightseeing .First, you'll be sent to Shwesaryan Pagoda including Abbot U Pyinnyar cemetery in which remained UPyinnyar body that changed in stone when he passed away due to regional devotees. Then you take tea break for a while at Payaphyowai Tea Shop then parentless school. Next, if you wish, local bazaar and the poor's bamboo houses and so on. Then, we will return Yangon by embarking ship .While you are on River, you can take photos gulls bugging you for their food and Yangon City beyond sides. 
After lunch, we'll visit Chyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, a 70-meter long reclining Buddha. Next we go on to Kandawgyi Park, one of central Yangon's greenest spots. Here you will see the glittering Karaweik barge, a copy of the royal barge, and the vast lake with views of Shwedagon in the background. Soon after for a while we continue to Shwedagon Pagoda the most admirable Buddhist Pagoda in Myanmar. Most of Myanmar people believed that it was built in more than 2000 years ago but it can be proved that it was about 11 century then renovated several times until taking its current shape in the 15th century. The 8-sided central stupa is 99 meters tall and is covered with 60 tons of pure gold leaf .Moreover it is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas and you will see the massive complex, observing why this pagoda is so revered. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa and the city skyline from this vantage point and sunset. (L) 
PRICING: in US Dollars per person



NUMBER OF PEOPLE
1
2
3-4
5-6
7-10
11-15
Public Rates
210
127
102
81
73
60
Website Rates
192
118
95
75
69
50
 
Rates are valid until 30 Sep 2016
Above Fare can be changed due to fuel charge and currency exchange rate. 
Our services include: 
• English-speaking guide 
• Private air-conditioned vehicle with driver 
• Trishaw for Dala sightseeing 
• Lunch at local restaurant 
• Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program 
• Water and refreshing towel 
Our services do not include: 
• Drinks and personal expenses 
• Any other items not mentioned 
• Visits not mentioned in the program

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

SWC-6

City Tour Half day -3 (SWC-6)
Dala beyond Yangon



Program Details
After breakfast your guide and driver will greet and meet you at your hotel then you will be transferred to Pansodan jetty to go across Hlaing River to get to Dala like a rural area. In carry ship, you can feed gulls following your ship. At the jetty of Dala, you'll see crowded people waiting ship to go across Hlaing River and junk foods sellers. Near jetty there are bus stand for delta regions, motor cycle hire stand and trishaws. We will choose trishaw to go around Dala for sightseeing .First, you'll be sent to Shwesaryan Pagoda including Abbot U Pyinnyar cemetery in which remained UPyinnyar body that changed in stone when he passed away due to regional devotees. Then you take tea break for a while at Payaphyowai Tea Shop then parentless school. Next, if you wish, local bazaar and the poor's bamboo houses and so on. Then, we will return Yangon by embarking ship .While you are on River, you can take photos gulls bugging you for their food and Yangon City beyond sides.
Time: 0800 -1200 (or) 1300-1800
Recommended Departure: Morning (due to hot season)
PRICING: in US Dollars per person
Rates are valid until 30 Sep 2016



NUMBER OF PEOPLE
1
2
3-4
5-6
7-10
11-15
Public Rates
89
51
42
32
28
25
Website Rates
82
47
39
29
26
20


Above Fare can be changed due to fuel charge and currency exchange rate.
 Our services include:
• English-speaking guide
• Private air-conditioned vehicle with driver for transfers.
• Trishaw for Dala sightseeing
• Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program
• Water and refreshing towel
 Our services do not include:
• Drinks and personal expenses
• Any other items not mentioned
• Visits not mentioned in the program