Dhammayangyi Temple – The Haunted Temple of Bagan

14 Jun 2019 by Admin

Bagan is one of the most iconic destinations of Myanmar. It is also known as the home of thousands of stunning pagodas and temples. one of the most magnificent temple that you should contemplate when you visit Bagan is  Dhammayangyi Temple. It is regarded as a haunted place because its construction is related to many tragedies in the history of Bagan Kingdom.

Located approximately one kilometer to the southeast of the ancient Bagan city, Dhammayangyi Temple, is regarded as the largest temple across Bagan. Apart from its famous pyramid look, the temple also appears in many local tales as a haunted place. People said that during the construction of Dhammayangyi, there were many tragedies happen.

Dhammayangyi Temple 1Dhammayangyi Temple is the biggest structure in Bagan

The Builder of Dhammayangyi Temple

The massive Dhammayangyi Temple was constructed in the 12th century (supposedly between 1167 and 1170) by the order of King Narathu, who was later given the name Kalagya Min or “the king slain by Indians”. Narathu claimed the succession of Bagan throne by murdering his own king father and his elder brother, who had been chosen to become King, in cold blood.

Legend had it that the King felt guilty for what he did and was so worried about bad karma that he had the Dhammayangyi Temple constructed to gain merit and redeem for the sin of killing his father and elder brother. According to legendary tales, King Narathu supervised the construction himself. He set the rule that workers would have their arms chopped or even be beheaded if they the brickworks were not perfectly fit without a gap between two given bricks.

Dhammayangyi Temple 2The Great View of the Temple Complex from Above

Unfortunately, the construction of Dhammayangyi Temple could never be completed. It was soon halted after the assassination of King Narathu. There are two main theories about the mastermind behind the assassination of the king.

The better - known theory claims that the King was assassinated by a group of Indians dispatched by the King of Pateikkaya. Narathu was said to kill one of his wives, also an Indian princess, for having practice Hindu rituals. For this reason, in order to avenge his beloved daughter, the Indian King mandated eight assassins to get rid of King Naru right in the Dhammayangyi Temple. The lesser known tale states that the assassination plotted by the invaders from Sri Lanka.

The Structure of Dhammayangyi Temple

The design of Dhammayangyi Temple bears a great resemblance to that of Ananda Temple. The whole work were constructed on a square base of which each side is 78 meters long. 

The building features four huge entrances, each leads to a sanctum where enshrines a Buddha image seating on a pedestal. The main entrance is the one facing the East. Besides, the interior of the temple consists of two main corridors which go around the core part.

Dhammayangyi Temple 3
The Entrances are Adorned with Sophisticated Bas - Reliefs

Unfortunately, a large proportion of the passages inside the temple were filled with bricks and pebbles soon after the halt of the temple construction. Likewise, three out of four chambers containing Buddha images were also blocked up by bricks. The only accessible sanctum is the Western one which enshrines the images of Gautama Buddha and Maitreya Buddha, the historical and future Buddha.

Many people believe that the interior of the temple was blocked deliberately by the workers to demonstrate their resentment towards the harsh rules of King Narathu. Those people blocked all the passages and chambers so that the spirit of the King would be trapped here forever. Today, you can still hear the tales of local people about the haunting of King Narathu in this temple.

Dhammayangyi Temple 4
The Image of Gautama Buddha and Maitreya Buddha in the Western Sanctum

Dhammayangyi Temple comprises of six pyramidal receding terraces with the upper layers smaller than the lower ones. The top of the temple was once crowned with a sikhara (an umbrella-like structure) but now it has been deteriorated by the forces of natures.

Nowadays, the uppermost terraces and the staircases leading to them are closed to the public. The gorvernment has banned visitors to climb on temples in Bagan in order to preserve the constructions and the safety of the travellers.

If you are interested in a visit to the mystic Bagan Plain to visit Dhammayangyi Temple, wait no longer. Contact us today to secure a place on our Burma River Cruises taking you on the journey exploring various charming destinations in this Buddhist country.

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