Profile of Bagan
The town of Bagan (formerly spelled as "Pagan"), central Myanmar (Burma), situated on the left bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River and approximately 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Mandalay. The site of an old capital city of Myanmar, Bagan is a pilgrimage centre and contains ancient Buddhist shrines that have been restored and redecorated and are in current use. Ruins of other shrines and pagodas cover a wide area. An earthquake on July 8, 1975, severely damaged more than half of the important structures and irreparably destroyed many of them. for which the region is noted. It was first built probably in AD 849 and, from the 11th century to the end of the 13th, was the capital of a region roughly the size of modern Myanmar. In 1287 it was over run by the Mongols during their wide-ranging conquests, and it never recovered its position, though a little desultory building continued on Buddhist shrines.
The walled city, whose moats were fed by the Ayeyarwaddy , was thus a sacred dynastic fortress. The circuit of its walls and river frontage is some 2.5 miles (4 km), and there is evidence that perhaps as much as a third of the old city has been washed away by the river. Because building was principally in brick, decoration was carried out in carved brick, in stucco, and in terra-cotta.
The earliest surviving structure is probably the 10th-century Nat Hlaung Gyaung(Keeping Spirit Supernature/Nat) it is the traditional spirit deities of the animist ethnic Burmans. Ethnic group had been infiltrating from the north into a region occupied by other peoples; these people already had been converted to Indian religion, especially the Mahayana Buddhism of Bihar and Bengal.
Under King Anawrahta (reigned 1044-1077), the ethnic Burmans finally conquered the other peoples of the region, including a people called the Mon, who were previously dominant in the south. They transported the Mon royal family and their scholars and craftsmen to Bagan, making it the capital and centre of an official, fundamentalist form of Hinayana (Theravada) Buddhism adopted from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), about 1056. This initiated the period of Pagan's greatness, which was sustained at first by Mon artistic traditions. The enormous number of monasteries and shrines built and maintained during the next 200 years was made possible both by the great wealth of the royal exchequer and by the large number of slaves, skilled and unskilled, whose working lives were dedicated to the support of each institution. The city became one of the most important centre of Buddhist learning.
Profile of Mt.Popa