Here’s what the Smiling Albino’s – Myanmar – All That Glitters, Asia’s Golden Land Brochure – 2014 has more to say about the our day biking at Bagan:
“Today we’ll have a well-paced day of temple exploration by mountain bike. As we’re in the plains now, to avoid the mid-day heat we’ll get an early start (08:30). The terrain is generally flat and through small (unpaved) countryside lanes, we’ll visit some lesser-seen temples on the way.
The focus this morning will be to see some of the spectacular scenery of ancient temples. Flexible traveling means you can travel at your own pace stopping for photos and breaks at every whim.
Around noon we’ll arrive at a temple in the Minnanthu area of the Bagan plain, we’ll enjoy a quiet picnic lunch before continuing back through the thousands of stupas.
And this is what I learned from the Lonely Planet – Myanmar chapter Bagan and Central Myanmar about Ananda Pahto and Htilominlo Pahto:
With its shimmering gold, 170ft-high, corncob-style hti shimmering across the plains, Ananda is one of the finest, largest, best-preserved and most revered of all Bagan souvenir stands, ur, we mean temples. Hawkers selling books and postcards and oil paintings surely know you’ll be making it to this lovely terraced temple, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from going.
Thought to have been built between 1090 and 1105 by King Kyanzittha, this perfectly proportioned temple heralds the stylistic end of the early Bagan period and the beginning of the middle period. In 1990, on its 900th anniversary, the temple spires were gilded. The remainder of the temple exterior is whitewashed from time to time.
The central square measures 58yd along each side. Upper floors are closed to visitors. The entranceways make the structure a perfect Greek cross; each
entrance is crowned with a stupa finial. The base and the terraces are decorated with 554 glazed tiles showing Jataka scenes, thought to be derived from Mon texts. Look back as you enter to see the huge carved teak doors that separate interior halls from cross passages on all four sides.
Facing outward from the centre of the cube are four 31ft standing Buddha statues. Only the Bagan-style images facing north and south are original; both display the dhammachakka mudra (a hand position symbolizing the Buddha teaching his first sermon). The other two images are replacements for figures destroyed by fire in the 1600s. All four have bodies of solid teak. Guides like to point out that if you stand by the donation box in front of the original southern Buddha, his face looks sad, while from a distance he tends to look mirthful.
The western and eastern standing Buddha images are done in the later Konbaung, or Mandalay, style. A small, nutlike sphere held between the thumb and middle finger of the east-facing image is said to resemble a herbal pill, and may represent the buddha offering dhamma (Buddhist teachings) as a cure for suffering.
Both arms hang at the image’s sides with hands outstretched, a mudra (hand position) unknown to traditional Buddhist sculpture outside this temple.
The west-facing Buddha features the abhaya mudra (the hands outstretched, in the gesture of no fear). At its feet sit two life-sized lacquer statues, said to represent King Kyanzittha and Shin Arahan, the Mon monk who initiated Anawrahta into Theravada Buddhism.
Inside the western portico are two symbols on pedestals of the Buddha’s footprints.
This 150ft-high temple (built in 1218) marks the spot where King Nantaungmya was chosen (by a leaning umbrella – that timeless decider), amongst five brothers, to be the crown prince. It’s more impressive from the outside, with its terraced design, which is similar to Sulamani Pahto.
Have a walk around the 140-sq-ft base to take in the fragments of the original fine plaster carvings, glazed sandstone decorations and nicely carved reliefs on the doorways. Inside are four Buddhas on the lower and upper floors, though the stairways are closed. Traces of old murals are also still visible. Unfortunately it’s vendor central.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD