In ancient times, the kingdom of Bagan surrounded the myth of being a bridge between heaven and earth. Set within the Bagan Archaeological Preservation Zone, in a unique location amongst the ancient temples, the Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort, Bagan is an expansive resort set amidst 27 acres of tropical landscaped gardens, offering the ultimate in relaxation for us as we were seeking a unique journey into the history of ancient Bagan. Antiques, artifacts and local arts uniquely adorn each villa, complementing the majestic ambiance of the resort and its surroundings.
The Hsinbyume Pagoda aka Mya Thein Dan Pagoda (White Temple) is just a few hundred metres beyond the Mingun Bell further down the main street of Mingun. It is a very unusual Paya with a lovely gorgeous white structure. The Paya was built in 1816 by the grandson of the infamous King Bodawpaya, who later became King Bagyidaw, in memory of his first wife, Bodawpaya’s granddaughter Hsinbyume, who died in childbirth in 1812. The seven separate terraces of the Paya are meant to represent the seven mountain ranges and oceans in between and around Mount Meru with the stupa at the top representing Mount Meru itself. Mount Meru is the mythical centre of the universe in Buddhist-Hindu cosmolgy. There are also many small statues on the Pagoda representing various nat spirits, ogres, and naga serpents. All in all it makes for a gorgeous temple.
The U Bein Bridge might look like just another rickety wooden crossing but this historic span is actually made of the remains of a royal palace. Construction on the wooden bridge was completed in 1851 after three years. The bridge was built at a slight curve, and is supported by over a thousand wooden pillars that were hammered into the bottom of the shallow lake. The planks of teak that make up the surface of the bridge were taken from the old royal palace of Inwa, a former Burmese capital, that had been razed a number of times. The resulting bridge might not look very royal, but its history certainly is. Reaching three-quarters of a mile in length, the ramshackle span is surprisingly long for a wooden bridge with no rails, but it cuts a striking figure. The bridge has become one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions and most photographed features. It is especially striking in the evening when the colors of the sunset paint the scene in natural color.
Author John Murray in his 1911 ‘Handbook for Travellers in India, Burma and Ceylon’ declared The Strand as “the finest hostelry East of Suez”, a title it has enjoyed for more than 100 years. Built in 1901 and acquired soon after by the Sarkies brothers, famed for the likes of Raffles in Singapore and The E&O in Penang, The Strand Hotel remains one of Asia’s most enduring and awe-inspiring 5-star Colonial landmarks. The beloved chandeliers, charming ceiling fans and authentic period furnishings, which have long served as the backdrop to this singular meeting place of famous explorers and raconteurs, remain. Past meets present among strategic upgrades including advanced air-conditioning and in-room technologies, as well as in the extensive staff training to ensure flawless personalised service which lives up to this grand and glamorous setting
Bagan is an ancient city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, 4,446 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of 3,822 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day. We were grateful to have met a guide who brought us access into one of those pagodas which allow us access to the roof after getting permission form the locals.