Bagan city in central Burma is one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites. It was also the capital city of the first Burmese empire. It is located in the dry central plains of the country, on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy (or Ayeyarwaddy) River. There are more than 2000 pagodas and temples in the city. These were built by ancient kings and leaders mostly during 11th to 13 centuries. It is believed that around 4500 temples were built that time. It is a legacy of the Buddhist belief that to build a temple was to earn merit.
The temples and stupas are preserved by UNESCO and many other local government bodies and trusts. They aim to restore and rebuilt the damaged ones. These are the major sites for tourists coming there and thus, plays to be a major source of revenue. They also contain frescoes and carvings and statues of Buddha. But the problem is that only a few of them are regularly visited. Might be the government is not able to promote other temples and attract tourists there too. Although, the total number of tourists visiting the city is increasing year by year.
Bagan has hot weather most of the year. It is believed one must visit between November and February as temperature is 30C (86F). It makes the weather pleasant for tourists. People avoid visiting in extreme heats of March to May where temperature rises up to 43 C.Visiting during full moon allows tourists to be part of local festivals and enjoy and mix up with locals.
The locals, Burmese considers their temples as sacred. Thus, they have a lot of respect for all the temples and expects visitors to do the same. Tourists should wear conservative dresses to maintain the dignity of the place despite the hot weather. The locals feel offended otherwise. But, mostly they do not confront due to their quiet nature. One can get into the city by means of air, land, road and rail transportation.
Besides going for temples and pilgrims, tourists can also visit Mount Popa. It is a sacred mountain. Salay, 22 miles from Bagan, is an active religious center from the 12th century. It also has numerous colonial-era buildings. One can go for a hot-air balloon trip over the Bagan city to view the temples, local village, rivers and natural beauty of the place from top.
However, Burma is a difficult place to travel. Reportedly, even reputable outside tour companies with many years’ experience in the country are struggling to guarantee rooms and services. As it is an old city there are problems of poor infrastructures. However, new hotels with latest facilities have been built recently. There is lack of ATMs and poor mobile phone and internet coverage. So, the nearby cite Nyaung-U has become hub for tourists stay and from there they travel to Bagan city. It is recommended that one must come Bagan city well prepared and have all their bookings done through trusted source.