Bagan / Burma
The ancient temples of Bagan, Burma rise from the valley like a mirage in this evocative shot by Cedric Arnold. Of the 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries that once graced this former capital, more than 2,000 survive.
Published on Mar 22, 2016
Squint at the valley before you, editing out any modern touches, and Bagan appears like a centuries-old dream. At its height, between the 11th and 13th centuries, the capital of a long-forgotten kingdom boasted more than 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries across this valley floor. Today, approximately 2,200 survive and, even now, their design exhibits the pinnacle of Burmese craftsmanship, the masonary work in particular laying the basis for future temple design in Southeast Asia. These structures peppering the plain fall into two broad categories: either stupas or larger, hollow gu-style temples that are used for worship. Up close, each of these religious monuments in what is Burma’s dry zone is intriguing, though the enduring image that is etched into memory is the sweeping dawn view of the valley floor.