Bagan, called at that time Pagan, is an ancient city of Myanmar located in the region of Mandalay.
It was the capital of several ancient Burmese kingdoms and is located in the dry central plain, on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, 140 kilometers southwest of Mandalay.
Once in Bagan there are only bicycles or horse-drawn carts to get around and visit the hundreds of pagodas, the choice is yours.
Personally I have used both options, and both are wonderful experiences, but the really spectacular thing in Bagan, probably the best of the whole trip, 2011, was my first sunset seen from the Pagoda Shwesandaw.
Photo gallery: Bagan and the huge plain of pagodas
Only when you climb on top of the pagoda Shwesandaw you have a complete view of the plains below, and you can appreciate the uniqueness and greatness of Bagan. The view is breathtaking and when God decides to paint the sky of Bagan with an incredible sunset really you can not ask for more from that day of your life.
The ruins of Bagan cover an area of ??41 square kilometers. Most of its buildings were built in the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, at the time Bagan was the capital of first Burmese empire.
It has been thanks to the King Pyinbya who moved the capital of the empire in 874, that Bagan has become a great city.
The capitals, in the Burmese tradition, moved with each reign, also Bagan was abandoned until the reign of King Anawrahta in 1057.
Re Anawrahta, after conquering Thaton, the capital of the Mon people, brought the imperial capital to Bagan along with the Tripitaka Pali scriptures, Buddhist monks and artisans, all in order to transform Bagan into a religious and cultural center.
Re Anawrahta made of Theravada Buddhism a sort of state religion, and established contacts with Sri Lanka.
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Bagan became a cosmopolitan center for Buddhist studies, attracting monks and students from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and even from the Khmer kingdom in Cambodia.
Bagan in 1287 it fell under the reign of the Mongols, was sacked after refusing to pay homage to Kublai Khan.
After the King abandoned the city Bagan declined as a political center, but has continued to thrive as a place of studies and Buddhist teachings.
After the earthquake of 1975 in Bagan were left standing only 2,217 pagodas, they were more than 5,000 during the golden age of the city.
After the disaster, the junta has begun a self-made restoration of ancient pagodas, temples and religious buildings, often ignoring the ancient architectural styles and using modern materials, sometimes with little or no resemblance to the original drawings.
For this reason, UNESCO has not listed Bagan in the list of human world heritage, despite the request had been made.