Manuha Temple – The Pride of a Defeated King

13 Jun 2019 by Admin

Old Bagan is considered the holy land of temples. There, you can easily encounter many temples of different sizes and shapes. Locating in the village of Myinkaba, Manuha Temple, which is one of the oldest temples in Myanmar, is a sacred site and a Buddhist masterpiece that tourists should not ignore when visiting Bagan.

The legendary tale of Manuha Temple

Legend had it that Manuha temple was built in 1067, a decade after the Mon King of Thaton - Manuha, whose name the temple takes after, was brought to the city of Bagan after being defeated by King Anawrahta. At that time in Bagan, kings and queens all constructed temples large and small. Hence, the Mon King also desired to build a temple to express his distress and misery when being held captive. The King did not have cash in hand so he sold his precious ruby called Manaw Maya to a local merchant and received six carts of fine silver in return which he used to build the sacred Manuha Temple.

Things to explore inside Manuha Temple

This white temple has a two-storey design, built up from terracing reduplicated squares like a pyramid with the lower storey larger than the upper one.

Inside Manuha Temple, there are three seated Buddha images in the front facing the east which are among the oldest monuments in Bagan. There is a large 46-feet-high image of seated Buddha with his right hand touching the ground surface. Two smaller Buddha images, with the height of 33 feet, are placed on the sides of the greater one. All three Buddha images are laid in narrowed niches and take up nearly all the space. Hence, there is only a diminutive area left for devotees and followers to pray. It is assumed that King Manuha placed the images in such narrowed niches on the purpose of demonstrating his frame of mind when being held captive in Bagan.

Besides the three seated Buddha images, there is also a superb 90-feet-long image laid in an adjacent chamber in the back heading towards the north which denotes that the reclining Buddha is about to attain the nivirna. Like the seated images, the reclining image is also put in a narrowed place to express the discomfort and distress of King Manuha. A legend claims that it took 6 months and 6 days to finish the construction of the image. Around the chamber containing the image, coconut, palm trees, mangoes, jackfruit and flower plants are planted as offerings to the Buddha image.

In contrary to the gloomy facial expression of the three seated Buddha images, the reclining Buddha image shows a peaceful smile. We can interpret this smile as the joy when King Manuha is about to be free from the shackles of captivity and misery and enter the course of Parinibana (the final passing away) to live in another world without suffering.

At the entrance of the chamber containing the reclining Buddha image, visitors can find a staircase climb to the top of Manuha temple. From there, visitors can see the face of the image via a window and may take great photos from this level.

At a corner of Manuha temple complex, tourists can also find a place used for worshiping the Nats (gods) of Mount Popa – Mae Wunna and her two sons Min Lay and Min Gyi. The statues of King Manuha and his queen, Ningala Devi, can also be seen in the temple.

Annually in Manuha Temple, there is a Paw Paye (Pagoda Festival) held in large scale one day before the full moon of Tabaung. This festival falls between February and March and includes many activities of making merit and offering.

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