Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hindu Temple in Myyanmar

Nathlaung Kyaung: Hindu Temple in Myyanmar

Located in the city walls of Old Bagan, Nathlaung Kyaung is only surviving Hindu temple in Bagan. Dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Vishnu, the square brick temple was built in the 10th or 11th century, making it one of the earliest temples at Bagan. 

The Nathlaung Kyaung (or Nat-hlaung-kyaung), located slightly to the west of Thatbyinnyu and inside the old city walls, is the only remaining Hindu temple in Bagan. It was possibly built by legendary King Taungthugyi (r. 931-964) about a century before King Anawrahta (r. 1044-1077) brought Theravada Buddhism to Pagan with the conquest of Thaton.

Whenever it was built, the fact that it was not destroyed indicates a tolerance of Hinduism in Buddhist Bagan. Nathlaung was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and served as the temple of the Indian merchant community at Bagan and brahmins in the service of the king. It may have been built by Indian artisans.

Only the main hall and superstructure of Nathlaung Kyaung still stand. The square temple is made of brick and has steep upper terraces, a dome and crumbling gopuram/sikhara (Indian-style finial). Originally there were Gupta-style statues of 10 incarnations of Vishnu housed in niches in the outer walls; seven of these survive. Badly damaged brick and stucco reliefs of Vishnu can be seen on each of the four walls.

The high mandapa (porch that extends from the temple) was given by a Malabar Vaishnavite saint in the 13th century. The only mandapa in Bagan, it was originally covered by a wooden awning.

In the 1890s, a German oil engineer took the large Vishnu statue from the temple; it can now be seen in the Dahlem Museum in Berlin. The temple was badly damaged in the 1975 earthquake, and considerable repairs were made in 1976, especially to the second story.

(source: Nathlaung Kyaung: Hindu Temple in Myyanmar).

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