With the recent opening of Myanmar to global commerce and travel, many travelers to Myanmar have their sights to very few places. They think that these places pretty much summarize all of Myanmar. Some would consider Yangon as their main destination while some would focus on the historical and cultural heart of Myanmar, Mandalay. However, both these camps miss one great place. They both miss the real historical heart of Myanmar, Bagan. This northern city is the historical core of Myanmar because this was the capital city of one of Myanmar’s largest and most powerful kingdoms. If you wanted to truly experience and appreciate the history of Myanmar and understand the Myanmarese character, you need to make a trip to Bagan. Simply put your Myanmar tour will not be complete without a stop in this city.
Bagan and Myanmarese History
Bagan is arguably one of Myanmar’s biggest and most powerful kingdoms. Myanmar is located at the crossroads of Chinese cultural and economic influence and India’s sphere of cultural influence. As you can well imagine, based on its geography there’s a lot of interplay between these very powerful political and cultural influences. As a result, a lot of the distinctly Southeast Asian cultural strain, whether it be Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotian or even Bangladeshi were influenced or colored by its interplay with historical Myanmar as symbolized by the city of Bagan. Just like with any other power in history, Bagan had its rise and fall. It was very big during the European dark ages and it experienced a massive decline before it completely faded from the picture. However, it left behind an architectural legacy that many modern travelers can definitely appreciate. You really cannot appreciate Myanmarese history without going to Bagan and seeing for yourself the architectural ruins of the many temples built during the Bagan kingdom’s heyday.
The Historical Soul of Myanmar
While kingdoms and local powers tend to come and go, some leave a stronger impact than others. This is especially true when it comes to Bagan and Myanmarese history. While Bagan was not the last kingdom that the Myanmarese call their own, it was a cultural precursor that laid a groundwork for a distinctly Myanmarese perspective and cultural point of view. In a sense, it helped shape the modern identity of Myanmar. Because of these reasons, it is more than fair to call Bagan the historical soul of Myanmar. That’s why no Myanmar tour is complete without a stop in this historical city.
Explore More of the Past During Your Myanmar Tours
While Cambodia has Angkor Wat and Thailand has its many different temples, Myanmar has Bagan. If you only have to visit one place in Myanmar, make sure that you stop by Bagan. It will make your trip worth it. If you’re looking for a relatively pristine and unspoiled destination in Myanmar, you can’t go wrong with this city.