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Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple, Bagan

Photo © Simon Taylor. View all images in our Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple Photo Gallery.
Photo © Simon Taylor.
Photo © Sara Heinrichs.

Extending 225 feet on a side, Dhammayangyi Pahto is the largest temple at Bagan. The pyramidical temple features very fine brickwork and an intriguing history: said to be built by a wicked king, the inner ambulatories may have been filled with rubble by spiteful workers after his death in about 1170 AD.

History

The date and builder of the Dhammayangyi Pahto are matters of some scholarly controversy, but it is generally thought to have been built by King Narathu (r. c.1167-70).

According to legend, Narathu built the temple to atone for his wicked rule: he smothered his father and brother to death and had one of his wives, an Indian princess, executed for practicing her Hindu rituals.

The bad king's own death is variously attributed to priest-assassins sent by the princess' angry father or to a Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) mission that not only killed the king but sacked the city and brought Ceylonese influence to the area.

It seems that the temple's construction ceased upon the king's death and was never finished. Intriguingly, almost all the inner ambulatory passages were filled with rubble around the time of its construction. Some suggest that the workers not only stopped work on the temple when the king died, but filled the ambulatories out of spite.

What to See

Oriented towards the east, the huge Dhammayangyi Pahto is surrounded by an enclosure wall and built on a similar Greek-cross ground plan as the earlier Ananda Pahto. It has just a single story but is topped with six pyramidical terraces that rise to its blunt rounded top (the stupa finial has collapsed).

In addition to its great size, Dhammayangyi is notable for its incredibly fine brickwork, probably the best in Bagan. Legend has it that Narathu would execute masons if he could fit a pin between the bricks.

There are two inner ambulatories around a solid square core that is about 82 feet on each side. As mentioned above, most of the inner ambulatory passages are filled with rubble, probably from the time of its construction. The four entrances at the cardinal directions each contain a seated Buddha figure.

Quick Facts on Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple

Site Information
Names:Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple; Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple, Bagan
City:Bagan
Country:Burma
Categories:Temples
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Bagan, Burma
Coordinates:21.161922° N, 94.872866° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple

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References

  1. Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma), 9th ed. (October 2005).
  2. Dhammayangyi Pahto - Asian Historical Architecture

More Information

Article Info

Title:Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple, Bagan
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:10/03/2009
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