Dhammayangyi Temple

Sights Type / Religious
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
  • Dhammayangyi Temple
Location

Old Bagan, Myanmar

Address

East of Shinbinthalaung and Shwesandaw (About 1 kilometer South East of the old Bagan walls), Old Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

Prices

Included in the Bagan Archeaological Zone ticket (25 000 kyats ~ $20)

Opening hours

08:00 am - 05:00 pm.

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Dhammayangyi Temple (Dhammayangyi pahto, Dhammayan-Gyi) is the most massive structure in Bagan which has a similar architectural plan to Ananda Temple. It was built by King Narathu (1167-70), who was also known as Kalagya Min, the 'king killed by Indians'. The temple is located about a kilometer to the southeast of the city walls directing Minnanthu.

After murdering his own king father, Narathu ascended the throne of Bagan and due to that, he built this temple. It is said that Narathu oversaw the construction himself and that masons were excecuted if a needle could be pushed between bricks they had laid. But he never completed the construction because he was assassinated before the completion. It was said that he was displeased by the Hindu rituals and one of them who made those rituals was the Indian princess who was the daughter of Pateikkaya. So he executed her for such reasons. The princess's father wanted revenge for his innocent daughter and sent 8 officers in the disguise of Brahmans and assassinated Narathu in this very temple. 

The interior floor plan of the temple includes two ambulatories. Almost all the entire innermost passage, however, was intentionally filled with brick rubble centuries ago. Three out of the four Buddha sanctums were also filled with bricks. The remaining western shrine features two original side-by-side images of Gautama and Maitreya, the historical and future Buddhas. The interlocking, mortarless brickwork at Dhammayangyi, best appreciated on the upper terraces, is said to rank as the finest in Bagan. Unfortunately the highest terraces and hidden stairways leading to them are now off limits to visitors.

Structure of the Dhammayangyi

The sides at the base of the structure are almost 78 meters long, while the central core of the temple measures 25 meters long. There are four entrances that each contain a seated Buddha image on a pedestal, the main entrance is the Eastern one. The Western sanctum contains images of the Gautama Buddha and the future Maitreya Buddha, side by side.

The sikhara, a tower like structure originating from North India, that was once on top of the Dhammayangyi has collapsed. The temple grounds are surrounded by a wall with huge arched gates that lead to the pagoda. To prevent further deterioration the terraces of the temple are closed to the public.

What to see at Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple

Oriented towards the east, the huge Dhammayangyi Pahto is surrounded by an enclosure wall and built on a similar Greek-cross ground plan as the earlier Ananda Pahto. It has just a single story but is topped with six pyramidical terraces that rise to its blunt rounded top (the stupa finial has collapsed).

In addition to its great size, Dhammayangyi is notable for its incredibly fine brickwork, probably the best in Bagan. Legend has it that Narathu would execute masons if he could fit a pin between the bricks.

There are two inner ambulatories around a solid square core that is about 82 feet on each side. As mentioned above, most of the inner ambulatory passages are filled with rubble, probably from the time of its construction. The four entrances at the cardinal directions each contain a seated Buddha figure.

King Narathu, builder of the temple

The Dhammayangyi temple was build by King Narathu in 1170. Narathu became King of Bagan after murdering his father and his brother, who was next in line to become King. Narathu was probably worried about bad karma and build to massive temple to gain merit and to compensate for murdering his father and brother.

The King was later murdered himself. There are several stories going around about the death of Narathu. One storey goes that the King was murdered by a group of Indians sent by the King of Pateikkaya. The murder was in revenge for the killing of one of Narathu’s wives, who was a Princess of Pateikkaya. Another is that Narathu was killed by invaders from Sri Lanka.

History of Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple

The date and builder of the Dhammayangyi Pahto are matters of some scholarly controversy, but it is generally thought to have been built by King Narathu (r. c.1167-70).

According to legend, Narathu built the temple to atone for his wicked rule: he smothered his father and brother to death and had one of his wives, an Indian princess, executed for practicing her Hindu rituals.

The bad king's own death is variously attributed to priest-assassins sent by the princess' angry father or to a Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) mission that not only killed the king but sacked the city and brought Ceylonese influence to the area.

It seems that the temple's construction ceased upon the king's death and was never finished. Intriguingly, almost all the inner ambulatory passages were filled with rubble around the time of its construction. Some suggest that the workers not only stopped work on the temple when the king died, but filled the ambulatories out of spite.