11th century, Bagan was the Capital and the most prosperous city of the Myanmar region. This is the period when Buddhism arrived here. Prosperous merchants built stupas, temples and pagodas. This land was a centre of learning. Foreign invasion reduced it to nothing and it soon became a simpler human establishment. The monuments decayed and now there are some 2000 left. A huge number still.
Our guide wanted to show us all. I told him my visa expires soon. He saw my point. But truly, its a lovely experience, to see these structures. Some ravaged by earthquake, some time, but all standing tall. What if they could talk? Imagine if someone hid a webcam nearby and recorded history. The Mongol invasion, other extremeties. What testimony!
The whole experience was awesome. To see such a concentration of Buddhism. All in one city.
Earlier, we also witnessed a festive procession of young couples and children, all dressed up like kings and queens. Most were in decorative bullock carts and some in horse drawn tongas. Two elephants added the drama. Most of the participants were dressed up in golden coloured clothing. It was a fairytale experience.
Today was a rest day and we were on a guided tour. In contrast to the morning, we later on visited the banks of the famous Irrawaddy river. Almost 2200km long it’s a north-south river and the premier historical passageway for commerce. A Buddhist temple stood at the shores, where we visited A complete tourist market invited us to invest in their wares. I ate some jaggery sweet, looked like an Indian laddoo. Pretty tasty. Maybe I was getting homesick.
We lunched at a local eatery and the best of food arrived at our table. As usual, it ended with juicy slices of watermelon.
Post lunch was personal time and I’m using mine to pack for India. Two more nights.