Dhammayangyi Temple (771/ 365)

Type of monument Type III Temple
Location East of Shinbinthalaung and Shwesandaw
Region Old Bagan
Built by King Narathu @ Kalagya Min
Date A D 1167
Monument Number 771/ 365

Dhammayangyi Temple

“Massiveness that is DHAMMAYAN
Loftiness that is THATBYINNYU
Grace that is ANANDA

as this saying goes, Dhammayan Gyi Temple is noted for its massiveness. It is a cave pagoda.

It is said that King Narathu built it in A.D.1170 and finished it in 3 years. The king reigned only 3 years. Viewed from a distance its shape is like an Egyption pyramid.

In ground plan it resembles that of Ananda which was built by his royal grandfather Kyansittha. It has two circumambutatory vaulted corridors and four devotional halls, each at one of the four cardinal points. But for some unknown season, the inner vaulted corridor, its entrances, and light wells were blocked. It is quite evident that they were blocked immediately after the structure was completed because the bricks used in the structure and those used in blocking are found to be identical in size and texture. Besides the cement applied to the blocks and that applied to the walls of the structure proved to be of the same type and belonged to the same

Some scholars surmise that since the super structure was so big, massive and heavy that the vaulted corridors and chambers underneath could not bear the weight above for very long. So most of them had to be blocked soon after the completion of the structure.

Others think that because of some treasures secretly hid-den inside they were blocked. There is yet another theory put forward by some historians — Narathu was a tyrant who had committed many political killings, his old father Alaung Sithu, his elder brother Min Shin Saw, and his queen Pethida were his victims. After building such a massive religious movement, repented Narathu, so obssessed with his crimes and so over come by remorse, blocked the inner corridors, windows and light wells so as to rescind his sins.

The eastern side has a huge Buddha image in the niche, and this side is open. Perhaps there are similar Buddha images at the other three sides that were blocked.

The remarkable feature of this temple is the excellent technique of brick-laying. Although only mud mortar was used, the massive structure has survived several earthquakes of the past centuries due to its best brick-laying method. Bricks were laid so close and neat that they looked as if they were just one piece. The seams are not visible and it is said that even a needle could not pierce them. The same is true of the fencing brick walls.

Sandstones were cut with scientific precision in the shape of wedge and carpenter’s square and used in the spans, arches, and at the corners of the walls. At the four corners of the structure are spans bridging the two thick walls.  In other big temples built by Bagan kings such as Thatbyinnyu, GawdawPalin, Htilo Minlo and Pyatthada Paya, the same construction technique was used in brick-laying walling and spanning. There used to be a pole plate at half the wall’s height on which one could walk about because some iron bars, stone blocks and stone slabs and holes still remain to prove it.

There is a big Buddha Image of hardstone in the eastern devotional hall. It was sculpted out of a single piece. In style and posture it resembles those images of Anawrahta’s time. There is a spiral staircase inside the hail. It leads to the upper storey.

Dhammayan Gyi Temple (Google Map)

Reference Books:

Glimpse of Glorious Bagan, Universities Historical Research Centre, Yangon, Myanmar, The University Press, 1996

Pictorial Guide to Pagan, Ministry of Culture, Yangon, Myanmar, The Printing and Publish Corporation, Reprint 1975

The Pagodas and Monuments of Bagan, Vol. 1, Translated by Dr Khin Maung Nyunt, Ministry of Information, Yangon, Myanmar, Graphic Training Centre (G.T.C), 1995

The Pagodas and Monuments of Bagan, Vol. 2, English Text by Dr Khin Maung Nyunt, Ministry of Information, Yangon, Myanmar, Graphic Training Centre (G.T.C), 1998

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