Compared to the Westminster Abbey of Burma, Ananda Temple is probably the most beautiful structure in grand Bagan plain. This significant single storey structure was constructed in 1105, at the end of the early Bagan period, with the goal of communicating the teachings of Buddha.
There is a local legend recounting the story of the construction of the Ananda temple. At end of the 11th century, Bagan was paid a visit from eight Indian monks. They had chance to encouter King Kyanzittha, telling him about a legendary cave temple in the Himalaya mountains then described him the temple in snowy landscape. The King was said to have been very impressed with the temple and he ordered to construct a copy in Bagan. It is also said that after the structure was done, the King executed all the architects, to ensure anything like it could never be build again.
The most attractive feature of the temple comes from the gilded tower put on top of the structure. The bliss of the gilded sikhara is visible from miles away over the Bagan plains. At night, the Ananda Pagoda is glowing with spotlights, creating a mystical atmosphere.
Images depicting spiritual enlightenment were describeded on the stones and plaques of the building in order that local people could learn from them. These images can be seen today, a comprehensive insight into philosophy of the Buddha that are still widely followed in Burma (Myanmar).
In 1975, the temple was suffered a serious damage caused by an earthquake and was subsequently restored to its former perfection. To celebrate the 900th anniversary of the temple in 1990, the spires of the temple were gilded. There is annual festival taking place here every December, in which 1,000 monks perform ritual chanting of scripture nonstop for 72 hours.
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