Thatbyinnyu Temple – Soul of Buddhism in the Ancient Bagan
Among famous temples in Myanmar, Thatbyinnyu temple built by King Alaung Sithu in A.D 1144 is the tallest structure and a not-to-be-missed place to visit in Bagan.
Etymology of Thatbyinnyu Temple’s name
“Thatbyinnyu” means “Omniscience” which the Lord Buddha attained on to become enlightened. This original name is one of the attributes of the Lord Buddha.
Structure of Thatbyinnyu Temple
While Dhammayangyi Temple is the largest in size, Ananda Temple is the most graceful with all artistic decorations; Thatbyinnyu Temple is the tallest in height among temples of Bagan with the total height of 201 feet.
There is a big statue of Buddha made of brick and plaster, sitting on a lotus throne on the upper terrace. Its head which was damaged by the earthquake contains a dolomite Buddha statue. Like Dhammayangyi Temple, brick laying technique used in Thatbyinnyu was outstanding. The bricks in the walls on the upper terrace up to 8 feet high were laid horizontally and vertically in an alternate style.
To strengthen the structure, square-shaped stones were inserted at every corner of the structure. There were also sandstones placed between bricks to serve as keystone in almost every arched span. The gambrel spans of the vaulted arches of the image house have no wooden or iron beams. The terraces were made curvilinear to make sure that the whole structure was durable. Big statues of Buddha made of brick and cement were placed on the north, south and west sides of the structure in the ground floor.
Original mural paintings are also found on the ceiling and walls of the vaulted corridors on the western entrance. On the north-east of the precinct is a cave pagoda which is traditionally known as “Tally Pagoda.” The “Tally Pagoda” was built of the bricks kept aside in every 10,000 bricks used in the construction of Thatbyinnyu Temple. Two big stone posts were placed on the south-east to support the cross bar. On the bar once hung a bronze bell with massive size dedicated by King Alaung Sithu to Thatbyinnyu. It was damaged quite long time ago.
Situated at the south-east corner of the city wall, Thatbyinnyu Temple was surrounded by a wall. Because of its long-lasting history, it is completely a must-see historic site for your Bagan travel to learn about its past.