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Bagan: Ancient Capital of Myanmar

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Nanpaya Temple

Type of monument : Type III Temple (Kundaung Pauk Gu)
Location : Close behind Manuha
Region : Myinkaba
Built by : King Manuha's grand-nephew, Prince Naga Thaman
Date : 11th Century
Monument Number : 1239

Close behind the Manuha Pagoda, there is a shrine mostly known as "Nanpaya". It is said to have been used as Manuha's prison although there is little evidence supporting the legend.

There is also another story saying that the shrine was originally Hindu. Supposedly his captors thought that using it as a prison would be easier than converting it to a Buddhist temple. But also some say that the temple was built by Manuha's grand-nephew known as Prince Naga Thaman in the late 11th century.

SANDSTONE CARVINGS INSIDE THE TEMPLE
 

It is made of sandstone masonry block facings integrated over a brick core. It is particularly fine. It consists of perforated stone windows which are typical of earlier Bagan architecture. Nanpaya is in fact Bagan's first "gu-style" (cave) shrine. It also features interesting arches over the windows.

MARVELOUS STUCCOS ON THE RIM OF THE TEMPLE
 

In the central sanctuary the four stone pillars have finely carved sandstone bas-relief figures of four-faced Brahma. The creator deity is holding lotus flowers, thought to be offerings to a free-standing Buddha image once situated in the shrine's centre, a theory that dispels the idea that this was ever a Hindu shrine. The sides of the pillars bear ogre-like heads with open mouths streaming with flowers. According to the Myanmar legend, the face of the orge represents the guardian and eats flowers instead of meat.

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