Wednesday, February 24, 2016

In Our Own Backyard. Gawdawpalin Temple.


Every time we come and go from our hotel, we've passed by several pagodas. One in particular has always stood out - mainly because of its large size and the fact that it's not constructed of red brick.

After lunch to day, Ayşe and I decided to forego our midday siesta.  We left Bro behind in the room and headed out to explore a few of the pagodas that are less than a 10 minute walk away from our hotel.
We first approached the big, white pagoda.  The entry gates were locked so we had no choice but to leave.



We continued our walk along the main road that passes by our hotel, turning down offers of *taxi* rides from the owners of horse drawn carts.  


None of the pagodas we wandered into were named.  I think someone has in fact identified and cataloged them all but since tourists only visit the major ones, the minor ones are left as is and unnamed.  Worn out through the centuries, there is still enough of their original beauty left that you can appreciate them.


Not all of the pagodas contain Buddhas but when they do, you can tell that the image is well taken care of.  Someone takes the time and trouble to keep the image clean of dirt.


Everyone needs to escape from the dreadful  heat and humidity and the cool interiors of the pagodas are perfect spots for midday break.  We happened on a few people, laying on the cool stone floors, taking a  nap.


As we were wandering about, we noticed a stream of people walking towards the big, white pagoda we had turned around from.  They were crossing a small paved lot where a few souvenir vendors had set up their stands and a few horse drawn carts were standing at the ready to take visitors to their next destination.

There were a fair number of tourists here, including a large tour group but they all appeared to be Burmese.

The sign told us where we were. 


Gawdawpalin Temple, it's not a pagoda as we had first thought, is a double storied temple that is one of the larger (it is actually Bagan's second tallest) and most imposing of the Bagan temples. Construction of the temple began during the reign of Sithu II (or Narapatisithu, 1174-1211) and completed during the reign of his successor, Nadaungmya (or Htilominlo, 1211-1234).

Gawdawpalin was heavily damaged during the 1975 earthquake; the tower was destroyed and upper parts were heavily damaged. There were repairs between 1976-82 and it was further strengthened 1991-92 when the tower was rebuilt as a hollow reinforced concrete structure in . About 40% of the exterior stucco moldings are still in place.

Gawdawpalin is square in plan, with porticoes on all four sides, but with the eastern portico projecting further than the others.

We took our shoes off at the gate and followed the tour group inside.


Gawdawpalin is still a functioning shrine.  We probably encountered more people worshipping here than in any of the other pagodas we've visited so far.

On the ground level, a vaulted corridor runs around a central block against whose four sides are placed images of the Buddha - it reminded Ayşe and I of the layout of Htilominlo Temple which we had just visited yesterday.

Atypical of the pagodas in Bagan, the main shrine of Gawdawpalin is actually on the second floor.  I don't know if it's open to the public or not.  We didn't see anyone going up a level.


We followed the passages around the center core, stopping by to gaze up at the Buddha image.  At first glance, they all look the same - Buddha images have started to blur.  But in fact, they are all different.



Pretty much all of the Buddhas have lost their golden luster around their knees, calves and fingers thanks countless people rubbing them.


I had Ayşe place her hand on Buddha's just so we had something to gauge size from.  It's a very large statue of  Buddha!




We didn't stay long at Gawdawpalin - just a quick walk around the inside was good enough to see the Buddhas, not that we haven't already seen enough Buddhas.

After having spent even just a few minutes inside the cool temple, walking back outside was like walking in a steam bath - made especially worse by the harsh light of the sun.  We both were wearing hats but with our long pants on, it was brutal to be outside.  Thankfully, it was a short walk.

On the way back to the hotel, we passed by the The Bagan Archaeological Museum and as good tourists, we probably should've gone to see it but all I wanted to do was get back to the room where I could position myself under the cool air blasting out of the air conditioner.  

More temples and Buddhas to come before we can call it a day!