Suitcase and World: Dhammayangyi Temple.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dhammayangyi Temple.

We're winding down our visit to Bagan. I cannot believe that we leave tomorrow for Kalaw. We ended our visit of Bagan temples with Dhammayangyi Temple, which was just a very short drive away from Sulamani.

Dhammayan, as it is popularly known, was built during the reign of King Narathu who famously ascended to the throne by assassinating his father Alaungsithu and his elder brother.  Some believe he had the temple built, in the course of his ruthless three year reign, to atone for his sins.  However, construction of the temple was not completed at the time of his death.

Legend suggests that Narathu met his end after he had one of his wives (a former Indian princess and one of the wives of his father) executed for her Hindu hygienic rituals.  Supposedly, he was assassinated by eight men, disguised as Brahmin priests, sent by the princess' father. .Others, however, have suggested that his death came at the hands of a Sinhalese mission that not only killed the king but sacked the city and introduced Singhalese influence into the architectural spirit of Bagan.

One quick note.  Every one of the pagodas, stupas and temples in Bagan has been cataloged though not necessarily named.  All of them have a unique *monument number* assigned to it.   Dhammayangyi Temple is monument number 771.

Dhammayan is not only the largest of all the temples in Bagan, it is also the widest.  It is built in a plan similar to that of Ananda Temple.

The interior floor plan of the temple includes two ambulatories around a solid square central core that is approximately 82 feet on each side.  Mysteriously, almost all of the inner ambulatory passages were intentionally filled with rubble, probably from around the time of its construction.  Some suggest that if Narathu was the builder, workers stopped building at the time of his death and perhaps even filled in the inner ambulatory out of spite.

Today, a tall brick wall blocks off the passageway. 

Miu pointed out the fine brickwork of the exterior.  The interlocking bricks are held together without the use of mortar.  Supposedly, Narathu would execute masons if he could stick a pin between the bricks.

In the temple's courtyard was a group of Burmese men playing chinlone (also known as caneball), a the traditional sport in Myanmar.  The objective of the game is to keep the round cane ball in the air as long as possible, using the head, shoulders, feet, knees and thighs.

We stopped to watch the action for a bit.  If Miu wasn't dressed in his longyi, I think he would have joined in.  Not easy to bounce around a ball when you're wearing an ankle length wrap around skirt.

The exterior ornamentation is quite beautiful, particularly the frieze and the pediments above the windows.

Looking up, underneath the pediment.  Sometimes there's detail beneath that you have to look under to appreciate.

Leaving Dhammayan behind was a bit bittersweet because I knew it was my last temple visit in Bagan.  You would have thought that after 3 days, I would have had enough but the fact is that even if they share architectural inspiration with each other, no two temples are alike.  Each has its own unique beauty.

I would love to come back here one day and spend more time exploring some of the lesser known monuments and neighboring villages. Our time in Bagan was much too short!