Ananda Pagoda, Bagan

high-definition creative commons photographs from Bagan, Myanmar, showing the architecture, statues and terracotta reliefs in this famous temple, together with a floor plan and further information.


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The Ananda Temple was built in 1105 AD during the reign (1084-1113) of King Kyanzittha of the Pagan Dynasty. The temple layout is in a cruciform with several terraces leading to a small pagoda at the top covered by an umbrella known as a hti. It is the central monument built in the Pagan valley.

It was built with bricks and plaster depicting various scenes in stone and terracotta glazed tiles apparently with the purpose of educating the people in Theravada Buddhism, which had effectively been made the State religion.

The temple houses four standing Buddhas each one facing a cardinal direction: East (Konagamana), South (Kassapa), West (Gotama) and North (Kakusandha). The temple is thought to be a fusion of the Mon and Indian style of architectures. Gotama Buddha displays the abhaya mudra with hands outstretched in the gesture of fearlessness.

At the feet of this Buddha there are two life-size statues made in lacquerware, representing the crowned figure of King Kyanzittha kneeling piously in prayer, and Shin Arahan, the Mon monk who converted the King to Theravada Buddhism.

Shin Arahan
Shin Arahan

King Kyanzittha
King Kyanzittha

The core part of the temple, at the centre of the terraces, is in the shape of a cube, which houses the four standing massive Buddha statues on its four faces, each of 9.5m height above a 2.4m high throne. The spire rises above this cubic structure.

The four entrances are provided with teak wood carved doors in the interior and these entrances form a perfect cross or cruciform. A stupa finial crowns each entrance. Jataka scenes, believed to illustrate a Mon version of the text, are embossed over 554 terra cotta tiles that decorate the base, sides and terraces.

The two circumambulatory passages have vaulted roofs. In these inner passages, surrounding the central cubicle, there are 80 large reliefs carved out of volcanic rocks, representing the Bodhisatta’s life from birth to Awakening (see The Quest for Awakening).

Text adapted from Wikipedia (retrieved, December 18th 2010)



Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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