Suitcase and World: Htilominlo Temple.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Htilominlo Temple.

Our whirlwind tour of some of the spiritual landmarks of Bagan continued following a brief visit to Shwezigon Pagoda.  Next on the agenda was a place called Kyan Sit Thar Umin,
a cave temple was built in the 11th century, into a cliff face.  The low brick building is also half underground and half above ground.

Kyan Sit Thar Umin served as a monastery and features a few small rooms, which were home to the monks.

Win deposited us just outside the entrance.  Before we could get far, Ayşe spotted the artist selling his own works.  She expressed interest before entering the monastery and when she left, she was the proud owner of her first souvenir from Myanmar.

We took off our shoes to enter and as the sign says above the doorway, photography was not allowed inside.  The elderly gatekeeper looked kind but she affirmed the rules by simply pointing to the sign as I approached her.  So, I put my camera away.

The interior of the cave monastery consists of long corridors with offshoots leading to the rooms for the monks.  Except for the light coming in from the door and a few small windows, the interior was pretty dark.

What we were here to admire were the ancient frescoes on the walls; the frescoes date back to the 11th-13 centuries.  Those dating closer to the 13th century were most likely painted when the Mongolians invaded the city in 1287 AD.

Luckily, both Miu and I had flashlights so we could shine lights on the frescoes otherwise, there was no way to see them.  Miu pointed out a few including the one that depicted a Mongol warrior as well as one that showed a procession heading to the pagoda.
I can see why photography was not allowed - it was much too dark inside to take photos without a flash.

Next, it was off to one of the *must see* temples in Bagan - Htilominlo.  You can tell  when you're visiting a tourist highlight just by the number of vendors that flank the entry.....not to mention the ones that are set up on the temple grounds!

Htilominlo is one of the larger temples in Bagan.  It was built by King King Htilominlo (also known as Nandaungmya) in 1218.  Htilominlo was one of the five sons of King Narapati Sithu.  According to legend, the selection of the heir to the throne had a tradition, which was for the five sons to stand in a circle and for a white umbrella to be erected in the middle of the circle.  When the umbrella tilted,  whichever son it pointed to would be the next king.  As the umbrella pointed towards Htilominlo, he was chosen. It is said that the Htilominlo Temple was built on the spot where he was selected as the next King.

The temple is three stories tall, with a height of 46 meters (151 feet), and was built with red brick.  The exterior facade was originally plastered with white stucco, some of which is still in place. The intricately carved stucco contains depictions of ogresses and mythical animals.

Atop of the building is a sikhara, an ornamental tower originating from Northern India. A gilded hti, the iconic umbrella shaped spire of Burmese temples and pagodas, tops the sikhara.

The temple is set on a low, square shaped platform and each side has an entrance porch, that are all richly decorated. The porch of the Eastern gate extends out further from the structure than the other entrances, breaking the symmetry of the building.

Htilominlo Temple was damaged during the 1975 earthquake and has since been restored.

Not too many tourists around; the souvenir vendors were hungry for business.

A beautifully decorated entry door.

The walls from the entrances leading to the inner sanctuary contain arched recesses in which small Buddha images are enshrined.  Inside, there are also four large gilded Buddha images, each facing one side of the temple.

There were plenty of smaller Buddhas displayed in niches throughout the interior.

The second floor has been closed to visitors but we were able to take the corridor that circles the first floor.  All along the corridor walls were beautiful murals and frescoes of Buddhist depictions done in several colors. Some of them have been defaced and most have faded considerably.

Another of the four large Buddhas.

Prayer offerings.

This is Large Buddha Number 3.

The last Buddha was saw was probably the most unusual of the lot simply because of his nose.  Much too sharp a nose to belong to someone of Asian descent. :-)

He looks more European than Asian.

On the way out, we passed by all the souvenir vendors though I did stop to admire the paper umbrellas.  Awfully pretty but I have no use for one.

After having spent several hours being out in the heat of the Burmese sun and sightseeing, I was in need of some refreshment beyond the lukewarm water in my water bottle.  Thank God for the food vendor who was selling sugar cane juice.  Bro and I did not hesitate to indulge!

I now have enough sugar in me to keep me going until lunchtime.  We have one more important landmark to visit before we break for lunch.

¡Vámonos!  ('cause I don't know how to say "let's go" in Burmese)