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Bagan: Ancient Capital of Myanmar

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Nathlaung Kyaung

Type of monument : Type I Temple (Gu Paya)
Location : West of Thabyinnyu
Region : Old Bagan
Built by : King Taungthugyi
Date : A.D 931
Monument Number : 1600
Photo Gallery : View 5 Photos

Nathlaung Kyaung means 'Shrine Confining Nats or Spirits', a reference to a purported time when King Anawratha tried to banish Nat worship in Bagan. He is said to have confiscated all non-Buddhist religious images including indigenous Myanmar nats and Hindu devas. Then he ordered to have placed them in this shrine as part of an effort to establish 'pure' Theravada Buddhism during his reign. The king eventually gave in to the cult and standardized the current roster of principal Burmese Nats by placing 37 chosen images at Shwezigon Pagoda.

This temple is situated slightly to the west of the Thatbyinnyu, this is the only Hindu temple remaining in Bagan. It is said to have been built in 931 by King Taunghthugyi, more than a century before Theravada Buddhism came to Bagan, following the conquest of Thaton. In design it resembles the Pyu Leimyethna or four-sided shrines of Sri Keshtra.

INSIDE THE TEMPLE
 


The main hall and superstructure of the Nathlaung Kyaung still stand fine today but the entrance hall and outer structures have crumbled and disappeared.

IMAGES OF HINDU GODS INSIDE THE TEMPLE
 



The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. The central square of brick supports the dome and crumbled Sikhara, and once contained free-standing figures of Vishnu as well as Vishnu reliefs on each of the four sides. Vishnu's '10 Avatars' were placed around the outside wall, seven of these survive.
 

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