Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gawdawpalin Pahto Zedi: Bagan's Best Temples, Pagodas, and Stupas

Touring ancient Bagan's series of thousands of temples tucked between trees, we come to Gawdawpalin Pahto Zedi.
There are so many temples (over 4,400) that it is virtually impossible to see them all, and many of them are prohibited due to falling construction, restoration, or preserving the Buddhist frescoes inside.
Gawdawpalin Pahto is a great place to visit because you can enter through the front door and check out some sand painting artists in the cool shade and warm sunlight, then angle your way up the tiny stair case (bring a torch or headlamp because it is very dangerous and steep and totally in the dark) and end up on the roof for some marvelous views.
Gawdawpalin Pahto is not the highest temple in Bagan, but it is a good starting point. The rooftop is circular and can be navigated in circumference by the mildly daring climber.
And once you are up in the air, you get an early sense for what the day's sites lay waiting in store for you.
Another cool thing about Gawdawpalin Pahto is that in the mid 1970's it was nearly destroyed by an earthquake and has been lovingly restored, allowing the traveler to see some ancient techniques in modern action.
You know, I've been to many of these holy places and breathtaking sites throughout Asia, to Angor Wat and Beijing's Summer Palace to the cherry blossomed tea houses of Kyoto to the temples around Ubud...and Bagan stacks up nicely.
There is really so much to see... but yes, you do get a little burned out touring from temple to temple.
Best to just go with a partner and talk the day away. Treat it like a day hanging out with a cool friend. That way, your senses don't overload, you can laugh at the halfway treacherous climbing steps, and you can pick your spots to be amazing and refreshed.
As for me, I'm just getting started touring these stupas and temples... it's back to the horse carriage. Oops, where did I leave my shoes? I'm back on the road!

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