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The Shwesandaw pagoda - Bagan

12/04/2019 503 Views
The Shwesandaw pagoda is one of the taller pagodas in Bagan, an imposing structure visible from far away rising from the plains of Bagan with its height of 328 feet. The Shwesandaw was built in 1057 by King Anawrahta, founder of the Bagan Kingdom. Anawrahta wanted to further Buddhism in his empire. To this end he requested Manuha, King of the Mon Kingdom of Thaton, to be given a copy of the Tripitaka, the Buddhist teachings.

The Shwesandaw pagoda is one of the taller pagodas in Bagan, an imposing structure visible from far away rising from the plains of Bagan with its height of 328 feet. The Shwesandaw was built in 1057 by King Anawrahta, founder of the Bagan Kingdom. Anawrahta wanted to further Buddhism in his empire. To this end he requested Manuha, King of the Mon Kingdom of Thaton, to be given a copy of the Tripitaka, the Buddhist teachings. In 1057, after Manuha’s refusal, Anawrahta invaded Thaton. Upon is return after the successful conquest, he had the Shwesandaw pagoda built to enshrine hair relics of the Buddha, which he had brought back from Thaton.

The Shwesandaw pagoda is one of the taller pagodas in Bagan
The Shwesandaw pagoda is one of the taller pagodas in Bagan


Bell shaped stupa on receding terraces

The Shwesandaw is a white painted symmetrical structure consisting of a bell shaped stupa set on a base of five square receding terraces. The stupa is topped with a golden multi tiered hti, an ornamental spire in the shape of a ceremonial umbrella found on many Burmese temples. The hti is not the original which came down with the 1975 earthquake. The original one is on display next to the pagoda. The corners of the pagoda’s five terraces were adorned with statues of Ganesha, the Hindu God with the elephant head, in Burma known as Maha Peinne.

the pagoda is locally also known as the Ganesh pagoda or Maha Peinne pagoda
The pagoda is locally also known as the Ganesh pagoda or Maha Peinne pagoda


Therefore, the pagoda is locally also known as the Ganesh pagoda or Maha Peinne pagoda. Several Hindu deities like Ganesha were worshipped in Bagan before the arrival of Buddhism. On the five terraces there used to be hundreds of terra-cotta plaques with depictions from several Jataka tales, the stories about the previous lives of the Buddha. Unfortunately, nothing is left today. Narrow, steep flights of steps on all four sides of the receding terraces lead to the base of the stupa, from where visitors have good views of the plains of Bagan and its numerous temples. The pagoda is also a well known spot for sunset and sunrise viewing. Dozens of bronze and stone Buddha images found at the pagoda during restoration works are on display in the Bagan Archeological Museum.

Shinbinthalyaung temple

Next to the Shwesandaw paya is the Shinbinthalyaung temple. The rectangular building with several entrances and small windows enshrines a reclining Buddha image. The brick and plastered image measuring 70 feet long is believed to date back to the 11th century. The buildings walls contain ancient murals.

Shinbinthalyaung temple
Shinbinthalyaung temple
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