Nathlaung Kyaung


Between Pahtothamya and Thatbyinnyu, this stubby building – the only Hindu temple remaining in Bagan – has a fascinating history. Named ‘Shrine Confining Nat’, it’s where King Anawrahta stored non-Buddhist images, particularly ones for local nat (spirit beings), as he tried to enforce Buddhism. The king himself described the temple as ‘where the nat are kept prisoner’. The structure was severely damaged in the 1975 earthquake; only the main hall and superstructure (with seven original Gupta-style reliefs) still stand.

A sign dates it to the early 11th century. Some say it was built in 931 by Taunghthugyi; if true, this was about a century before the southern school of Buddhism came to Bagan. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.

The central square of brick supports the dome and crumbled sikhara, and once contained freestanding figures of Vishnu, as well as Vishnu reliefs on each of the four sides. The statues were stolen by a German oil engineer in the 1890s, but the badly damaged brick-and-stucco reliefs can still be seen.