Balloons Over Bagan

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Buddhist law states that women must never be in a position higher than that of a monk, so special permission was needed from Bagan's chief abbot to fly over the sacred plain

Operating since 1999 with British made Cameron Balloons.    They had two flights a day weather permitting during the season and we choose the dawn rather than the sunset flight as the evening flight would be back on the ground before the sun set for safety reasons

Pagan in many respects is the most remarkable religious city in the world.  Jerusalem, Rome, Kiev, Benares, none of these can boast the multitude of temples, and the lavishness of design and ornament that make marvellous the deserted capital on the Irrawaddy"

Sir James Scott "The Burman: His Life and Notions"

 A hot air balloon flight with Balloons Over Bagan is a treat you will remember long after the cost is forgotten
 

The Bagan plain at dawn, cloaked in mist.  As the sun rises higher the lengthening shadows and lingering mist create an unforgettable panorama of monuments as far as the eye can see 

 

 People below were just beginning their day.  With the vast restoration project underway, working in a brick yard must be the ultimate in job security.   Fishermen were already pulling in their nets
I was surprised at the amount of attention we attracted.  Children came running, work stopped and everyone waved.  The occupants of the Betlenut Hotel came scrambling to the rooftop to watch our passing.   It is a short season and the route varies so we would  not have been an everyday occurrence as I had imagined
The extent of the vast plain can only really be appreciated from the air.  The lush green fields of early December would soon give way to the sandy conditions of the dry season.  At one time much of the ground between monuments would have been covered with wooden monasteries some quite magnificent.  The homes of the local people were relocated in 1990
Dhammayangyi Pahto, 1167

Similar in style to Ananda but huge by comparison Dhammayangyi, the largest and best preserved of the Bagan monuments can be seen dominating the plain for miles in every direction.   Built by King Narathu who having murdered his father was understandably anxious to improved his karma for future lives.  He is said to have supervised the construction and insisted that the masons fit the bricks so tightly together that a needle would not pass between the bricks

Thatbyinnyu, to the left and Shwesandaw

The monuments are primarily solid zedis (stupas) as Shwesandaw in the foreground, or hollow pahtos (temples) as Thatbyinnyu to it's left

Shwesandaw 1057,  was the first monument built after the conquest of the Mon King at Thaton and the first to feature the staircase rising through the terraces.  There is a reclining sleeping Buddha within the grounds.  We know he is sleeping as he faces South.  Only the dying Buddha faces North.  We returned to  view the sunset

Thatbyinnyu 1144, at 210' is the tallest  building on the plain  It's upper terraces now closed to all but a few military and VIP's.  Adjacent to the temple is a 'tally' zedi built with one brick for every 10,000 used in the main temple

Time for Champagne

The children were very interested in the goings on, with the exception of the little guy who is not too sure he likes having his photo taken by a stranger
Flights last between 45 and 60 minutes depending on conditions.  Our whole experience from the time we were picked up at the Hotel Thande in one of B.O.B.'s open sided buses until we were safely returned was 2 hrs. 30.min 

The pilots were in radio contact with each other and the ground staff.  In the later stage of the flight they were scouting for a suitable place to land without damage to the farmers crops.   If damage is unavoidable they pay restitution

A small donation from every flight is made to projects that benefit local communities

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