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Among the world's “lost cities” Bagan is unique, for it has never really been lost, or even forgotten. Astonishingly, it was simply ignored. It lies on a bend of the Irrawaddy River, for all to see who pass by. This 16-square-mile city on the broad alluvial plain was established in 849 CE. It saw its greatest growth from 1000 CE to 1200 CE when most of its magnificent temples were built. Then in 1287 CE came the Mongol hordes. The city was sacked, its treasures plundered and many of its people carried away. Scholars continued for a time to use Bagan as a Buddhist learning center. But it gradually slipped into the status of a backwater, home ...

Among the world's “lost cities” Bagan is unique, for it has never really been lost, or even forgotten. Astonishingly, it was simply ignored. It lies on a bend of the Irrawaddy River, for all to see who pass by. This 16-square-mile city on the broad alluvial plain was established in 849 CE. It saw its greatest growth from 1000 CE to 1200 CE when most of its magnificent temples were built. Then in 1287 CE came the Mongol hordes. The city was sacked, its treasures plundered and many of its people carried away. Scholars continued for a time to use Bagan as a Buddhist learning center. But it gradually slipped into the status of a backwater, home to a few fishers and farmers. People simply passed it by. But now it is recognized as one of Burma's crowning achievements. And unlike Angkor Wat or the lost cities of the Yucatan, because of its flat unfolliated surface, the whole of its vast expanse is visible from any high place. Temples crumbling with age, gaping entrances yawning ghosts, lie beside those that seem pristine, waiting for the next group of monks and pilgrims to fill them with chanting and music and color. Waiting for you.

Richard Sterling
About the Expert

Richard Sterling is the author of Lonely Planet's World Food: Greece, Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam, and many other books.

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Richard Sterling for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Bagan, Myanmar is an ancient city located on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River, approximately 300 miles north of the capital city of Yangon
  • Language: Burmese (Myanmar), English and 107 dialects
  • Currency: Kyat
  • Research: Bagan | Bagan
  • Weather: Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    October-April