The Sulamani Temple is a Buddhist temple located in the village of Minnanthu (southwest of Bagan) in Myanmar. The temple is one of the most-frequently visited in Bagan.
It was built in 1183 by King Narapatisithu, and is similar to the Thatbyinnyu Temple in design. The Sulamani Temple also shows influence from the Dhammayangyi Temple, and was the model for the Htilominlo Temple. Sulamani Temple was restored after the 1975 earthquake, and utilises brick and stone, with frescoes in the interior of the temple. It was rebuilt in 1994.
ARCHITECTURE of Sulamani Temple
Sulamani Temple is situated about three miles to the south-west of Nyaung-U and near Dhammayan Gyi Temple. The pagoda is well-known for its glazed ceramic inserts glistening under the sun at the base and at the upper terraces.
It is one of the last large temples built in the Bagan period. The temple consists of two stories, with a square layout and porches on all four sides. The eastern porch protrudes farther than the others. The construction style is very similar to that of Thatbyinnyu, Gawdaw Palin and Htilominlo. However, Sulamani temple is more sophisticated than Htilominlo and Gawdaw Palin temples. It also shows influence from the Dhammayan Gyi Temple.
The two stories of the temple are surmounted by receding terraces with small stupas at all corners. Sikhara, a tower structure originating from North India, was built on the top of the Sulamani temple.
The temple is an impressive and massive one in structure. Its entrance was decorated by superb architectural works of art. Frescoes and murals dating from the 12th to 19th centuries can be seen on the walls of the temple as interior decoration. Those on the south side depict life of people in 18th century Bagan. Life of the Buddha and various mythological animals, like dragons, are also depicted on the wall. The temple also reveals Bagan’s finest ornamental work including carved stucco on mouldings, pediments and pilasters. They are still in good condition and can be viewed well by visitors. The ground floor contains images of Buddha on each of its four sides. The niches in the wall of the corridors surrounding the cubes of the lower and upper floor houses seated images of Buddha placed on pedestals.
From the time of its construction until today, the temple has been refurbished many times. The first renovation work took place in the 14th century after the capital relocated from Bagan to Inwa. After the 1975 earthquake some parts of the temple were damaged. It was restored in the same year and finally in the1990s the temple was again renovated. Although most of the original painting from the 12th century is gone, 40 percent remains on the main vaulted ceiling today.
HISTORY of Sulamani Temple
Sulamani temple was built by King Narapatisithu in 1183 A.D. There are two stone inscriptions in the temple. The one erected in the north porch mentions that King Narapatisithu built it in order to make a work of merit.
The king donated many temples and stupas during his reign from 1174 to 1211. Most of them were probably built as atonement for some of his misdeeds. According to the chronicles, the King was once returning from climbing Mount Tuywin when he saw a ruby shining radiantly in the hollow. He ordered his men to fill up the hollow and build the Sulamani on the very spot.
Sulamani means “Crowning Jewel”. The temple is also known by its local names as Sulamani Gupaya and Sulamani Phato.