Bagan, the capital of Myanmar’s first dynasty, was built by King Anawrahta in 1044 AD. Today 2217 old monuments and temples are still standing out of 4447 in the past. All monument spread within 42 sq km of a semi-desert like plane on the eastern bank of Ayeyarwaddy river. All these red bricks and stucco religious monuments were built during 11th to 13th century. Bagan was fallen in 1287 AD by Mongol invaders under by Kubalai Khan. Remain magnificent temple architecture, fine mural paintings, brilliant stucco curving and the elegant Buddha images, all are telling the sublime motif of ancient Bagan People.
Riding horse-cart through the crop fields and some hundreds-year old temples under the sunset light or sitting quietly on a temple platform, looking about the country side, and watching sunset over the nearby temples and distant hills, can drive one’s soul to the timeless world.
Mt Popa stands at 65 km south-east of Bagan. Mt Popa is actually an extinct volcano which of peak is 1518 m above sea level. A huge volcanic plug sits beside is a dramatic looking Popa Taung Kalat. Unnaturally rising up from almost flat ground at 737 metres unlike anything else around it. Naturally the views from the top of the surrounding area is stunning. There are 777 steps that snakes their way to the peak. Mt Popa area is today designated as one of the national parks. Covered with forest and champak flower is the symbol of this mountain. For those who believe, it is home of the 37 nats( spiritual beings). There are two nat shrines represents for each being. Nat festival is held twice a year. 3rd waning moon of Kason month and 10th-13th of waning moon of Wagaung month respectively.
Tantkyi Taung or the Tantkyi hill is located on the western side of Ayeyarwaddy River which falls on the other side of Bagan. On the Tantkyi Hill lies a Pagoda and is known as the Tantkyi Taung Pagoda. The Tantkyi Taung Pagoda was built during A.D 1059 by King Anawrahta. King Vizaraba from Sri Lanka donated one of Buddha's tooth relics and King Anawrahta duplicated with another one and embedded in the sacred place inside this pagoda. There are 32 statues of elephants made in ratio to different directions at the base of the pagoda. It is an octagonal shaped designed platform on which the pagoda resides. Many years passed by but still the pagoda is maintained by time to time. It takes about half a day to travel and visit this place. There are ferries carrying visitors across the Ayeyarwaddy river, every early morning.
Salay is at 70 km south-west of Bagan lies by the east of Ayeyarwaddy river. It is an old religious center in central Myanmar, 1 ½ hours drive south of Bagan. In between visiting the numerous ancient monasteries, adorned with beautiful woodcarving, you can enjoy the beauty of this compact city of colonial buildings, monasteries and stupas.
Youqson Kyaung, old wooden monastery (160 years old) with wood carved ceilings and almost three dimensional carved figures of 19th century court life and Jatakas (stories of the Buddha's life) and Ramayana (one of India's best known legends).
Thadama yaunggyi Kyaung, ancient monastery with wood carving. Mogok Vipassana Yeiktha, meditation center 19th century shrine shelters, a 3m lacquer Buddha . Hkinkyiyza Kyang, ancient brick and stucco Buddhist scripture library. Several different styles of pagodas among old colonial buildings (one still bears royal crown relief).
Yenangyaung lies about 100 kilometers south of Bagan. Yenangyaung was the location of a strategically and tactically important oil refinery.While you are approaching you will see barren steppes and sandy streets. Yenangyaung, the hottest and driest part of the country, the "dry zone". The sandy roads which is the only connection to this part . After roaming deeper, it get into steppe-like areas, the roads are narrow, a simple bridge spans a deep gorge. Again and again I drive by "flood zones", which are wide, dry river courses. When rains in northern Myanmar, but this way, the rain water from the distant mountains derived. Then do not get through here, a torrential flood is blocking the path. The villages are even more isolated than now.