Htilominlo Temple: A Journey Through the Pages of Bagan’s Past
Named after its royal patron, Htilominlo Temple stands as a testament to the flourishing Buddhist culture and the architectural grandeur of the Bagan Empire. Commissioned by King Htilominlo (also known as Nandaungmya) in 1218 AD, this temple is a significant chapter in the historical narrative of Bagan.
The temple’s name ‘Htilominlo’ translates to ‘blessings of the three worlds,’ which is a testament to King Htilominlo’s profound faith in Buddhism. This magnificent edifice of red brick stands tall at 46 meters, making it one of the highest temples in Bagan.
Steeped in legend, the story goes that King Htilominlo was chosen as the heir to the throne from among five brothers during a royal ceremony. His father, the King, had the five princes stand in a circle holding a white umbrella. The umbrella inclined towards Htilominlo, symbolically choosing him as the successor. To commemorate this event, the king built the Htilominlo Temple at the exact spot where he was chosen.
Htilominlo Temple offers an extraordinary blend of architectural grandeur, intricate carvings, and a fascinating historical backstory that attracts history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and spiritual seekers alike.
Its towering structure, made from red brick and adorned with intricate carvings of ogees, offers a glimpse into the innovative building techniques of the Bagan era. The temple also houses four large Buddha statues facing the cardinal directions, a common feature in Burmese temple architecture.
Htilominlo Temple also boasts a rich collection of ancient frescoes and plaques depicting scenes from the Jataka tales – the stories about the previous lives of the Buddha. For those interested in local crafts, the temple grounds are home to local artisans selling their crafts, including lacquerware and sand paintings.
Location and Route
Htilominlo Temple is conveniently located within the archaeological zone of Bagan, Myanmar. It’s situated between the Bagan-Nyaung U road and the old city walls, making it easily accessible from any point within the old city.
The city of Bagan can be reached via road or air, with direct flights operating from Yangon and Mandalay to the Nyaung U Airport. Once you are in Bagan, various modes of transport are available to reach the temple, including hiring a bicycle, electric bike, or a horse cart. Alternatively, taxis are available for a more comfortable journey. Guided tours also often include Htilominlo Temple in their itinerary due to its historical and architectural significance.
When to Visit
While the temple is open to visitors throughout the year, the optimal time to explore Bagan and its myriad of temples, including Htilominlo, is during the cooler, drier months between November and February. During this time, the weather is pleasant, and outdoor explorations are enjoyable.
Visiting the temple during sunrise or sunset offers a spectacular view as the golden light bathes the temple, further highlighting its architectural beauty. These times also offer the opportunity to capture stunning photographs of the temple against the backdrop of the changing hues of the sky.
What to See
The majesty of Htilominlo Temple extends beyond its height. The intricate designs of the exterior plaster carvings, the impressive murals on the inner walls, and the four gilded Buddha statues are significant highlights.
The first floor of the temple houses the four Buddha statues, each facing a different direction. As you ascend to the higher levels of the temple, you will find murals and intricate carvings depicting scenes from the Jataka tales, although their color has faded over time.
The temple’s architecture itself is a sight to behold. The detailed plaster carvings that adorn the temple’s exterior showcase the Bagan-era aesthetics. The spire, featuring delicate stuccowork, is an exemplification of traditional Burmese temple architecture.
Close to Htilominlo Temple, other major sites worth visiting include Ananda Temple, Thatbyinnyu Temple, and Shwezigon Pagoda, each holding a unique place in Bagan’s cultural and historical landscape.
In conclusion, a visit to Htilominlo Temple is not just a touristic activity; it’s a journey through Bagan’s rich cultural heritage and a testament to the architectural brilliance of a bygone era. The temple’s grandeur, historical significance, and spiritual ambiance make it a must-see site for anyone visiting Bagan.