There are several versions related to the name of this temple. The most popular one is about eight Arahats. When King Kyanzittha asked eight Arahats to provide him an idea for the religious monument he was about to build, they used their power to show him a graphic image of Nandamula Cave Hall in the Himalayas. The King was pleased so he requested the Arahats to build a temple in the middle of the Bagan plains creating cool conditions in the temple. After the Arahats completed the temple construction, the King killed all of them in order to retain the uniqueness of the temple.
The temple is designed in acruciformwith several terraces leading to a smallpagodawhich is covered by an umbrella known asHti at the top (Hti is the name of the umbrella or top ornament found in almost all pagodas in Myanmar). The Buddhist temple houses four standing Buddhas which are adorned withgold leafand each image faces a direction, from north to south, stated to represent attainment of a state ofnirvana. The images facing north and south are original while the other two images are replaced after the originals were destroyed by fires. All the four images are 30 feet tall and made of solidteak wood. It is said that Ananda temple is an architectural wonder in a fusion ofMonand adopted Indian style.
Location: North Plain, Bagan Zone
Open daily, all year around
Entrance fees: included in Bagan Zone fee at US$ 15 per person
Ananda temple is a perfect combination of all kinds of Myanmar arts. When you come here, you will admire the talent of people in creating the natural ventilation system by building windows inside the thickness of the walls and eight light wells on each side of the structure. They help to bring light directly on the faces of the four statues of Buddha and fresh air into the whole structure.
Another brilliant skill is brick laying technique without plastering. You can see it in some places where cement fell off due to the quake. They formed the arch span by laying the baked bricks in a radiating pattern and placing stone bricks as wedges between them. Similarly key stones cut with precision were used in the corners of the wall. They were wedged in at an interval of 4 or 5 feet.
Brickwork is also the special feature of Ananda temple.The plaques are made of glazed Terra-cotta tiles representing one story of the Jataka.
The stone sculptures, in the outer vaulted corridors, are considered unique in Bagan. There are totally 1500 stone images (mostly unclear) are seen inside the temple. The special images which are carved from a single rock (average size is 1.1 m high, 0.74 m broad and 0.30 m thick) depict 80 episodes from Buddha's life.
There are some of the paintings seen in good condition are: on the walls and ceiling of the eastern devotional hall; the pictures of re-appeared Buddha, north of the statue of standing Buddhas, Arahats and lotus flowers; and floral designs on the western entrance.
Finally, don’t forget Buddha Images, especially the one in the South (called theKassapa). It has a unique architectural display. When it is viewed from close quarters, the face of Buddha image looks sad. However, the same image viewed from a distance gives an expression of happiness.
The annual Ananda temple festival is held during the month of Pyahto (December to January). During the festival, 1000 monks perform continuous chanting of scriptures for 72 hours. Thousands of villagers from miles around set up encampments around the temple. On the morning of the full moon day, they offer gift bowls to the monks in attendance