|Humans have been living in Bagan for over 2000 years. Over a period of some 230 years a number of Bagan kings build in excess of 4400 temples. The Bamar King Anawrahta reigned during Myanmar's transition from Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist beliefs to the Theravada Buddhist beliefs, characteristic of Myanmar to this day. He began the great temple building tradition, which lasted all the way to King Narathihapati. The 13th century marked the beginning of Bagan's decline, but historians disagree over the exact events that precipitated the change. Bagan remained occupied by bandits, and nat (guardian spirits) between the 14th and 18th century. It wasn't until the British established their presence in the area that the Burmese began to return.
What remain today are over 2000 temples, 4000 if you include the brick mounds. The terrain is mostly flat, which allows one to see the vastness of the area, with temples dotting the landscape in all directions, as far as the eye can see - all you need to do is climb to the top of one of them to gain a better vantage point.
We rode our bicycles through the area, stopping at a number of different temples. Some of the temples had locals selling stuff in front, but as soon as you entered inside, it was all quiet and peaceful. I especially liked walking barefoot as the bricks outside were pleasantly warm from the sun, and inside they were pleasantly cool. Some temples we entered were empty, and there we enjoyed some peace and tranquility.
We sat atop one of the temples to observe the sunset. It was very beautiful, and very quiet.
On our way back to our guesthouse, we chatted with a few young locals. They were selling sand-paintings in front of what else, a temple. We had a good time with them, and they agreed to meet us in town for dinner.