Built by Alaungsithu in 1131, this smaller but elegant pahto (temple), 650ft north of Thatbyinnyu, is an example of Bagan’s middle period of temple building, a transition in architectural style from the dark and cloistered to the airy and light. Its name means ‘Great Golden Cave’ and its corn-cob sikhara is a scaled-down version of the one at Ananda.

Inside are fine stucco carvings, a teak buddha and stone slabs that retell (in Pali) its history, including that it took just seven months to build. Missing from the scripts are details of its builder’s demise: Alaungsithu’s son brought his sick father here in 1163 to smother him to death.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bagan attractions

1. Pitaka Taik

0.13 MILES

Following the sacking of Thaton, King Anawrahta is said to have carted off some 30 elephant-loads of Buddhist scriptures in 1058 and built this library …

2. Thatbyinnyu Pahto

0.15 MILES

Named for ‘omniscience’, Bagan’s highest temple is built of two boxy white-coloured storeys, each with three diminishing terraces rimmed with spires and…

3. Mahabodhi Paya

0.18 MILES

Unlike any other Bagan temple, this monument, located on the north side of the main road 1000ft west of the gate, is modelled after the famous Mahabodhi…

4. Nathlaung Kyaung

0.21 MILES

Between Pahtothamya and Thatbyinnyu, this stubby building – the only Hindu temple remaining in Bagan – has a fascinating history. Named ‘Shrine Confining…

5. Tharabar Gate

0.22 MILES

Do stop on the eastern side of this former entrance to the original palace site. The gate is the best-preserved remains of the 9th-century wall and the…

6. Pahtothamya

0.23 MILES

On the dirt road 500ft east towards the dominating Thatbyinnyu, the Pahtothamya (or Thamya Pahto) was probably built during the reign of Kyanzittha,…

7. Palace Site

0.24 MILES

There's very little left of Bagan's original palace complex. Just a few bits of wall protruding out of the ground and a few lumps and bumps indicating…

8. Bagan Golden Palace

0.24 MILES

Following similar government-mandated palace reconstruction jobs in Bago, Mandalay and Shwebo, this towering concrete-and-steel-reinforced edifice was…