Located just south of Myinkaba Village in the Bagan Archeological Zone, Apeyadana Temple is named after Apeyadana, an 11th-century chief queen consort of King Kyansittha of the Pagan Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) and maternal grandmother of King Sithu I of Pagan.
Much about this temple remains unknown or obscured through myth. Precisely when it was built and by whom isn’t clear–archaeologists rely heavily on inscriptions at the temples at the time they were constructed to date them, and there are none here. Their best guess is that it probably dates to the late 11th or early 12th century.
Apeyadana Temple is best known for its frescoes inside that depict the Brahmanical gods and divinities of the Mahayana pantheon.1 Unfortunately, it’s quite dark inside and very hard to photograph in there. There is space inside that was meant for a number of statues, but most of those that survived have been moved to the Bagan Archaeological Museum a few miles up the road.2
Photos of Apeyadana Temple
What to Know Before You Go
Apeyadana Temple is located off the main north-south road just outside Myinkaba Village.
It’s dark inside–take a flashlight.
As with most Burmese names, it is transliterated into English in various ways. Other variations include Ape-ya-da-na, Ape-Yadana-Phaya, and Abeyadana.
- Pictorial Guide to Pagan (1963), p. 44. ↩
- Donald M. Stadtner, Ancient Pagan: Buddhist Plain of Merit (Bangkok: River Books, 2013) ↩
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Traveling to Bagan?
Very few of the temples, pagodas, or stupas in the Bagan Archeological Zone have any information about them on site. And with literally thousands of sites to choose from, it's handy to go armed with information on what to see and where to start--especially for independent travelers without a guide.
If you're looking for something that goes beyond the patchy information in the standard guide books, I've found these to be good:
David Raezer and Jennifer Raezer, Myanmar (Burma): Temples of Bagan
Approach Guides, 2017
With maps, diagrams, and pictures, it's pitched as a "travel guidebook for the ultra curious." It offers detailed profiles of 21 of the major sites. It's an especially good option if you traveling with a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone and don't want to take up any space in your luggage or deal with the extra weight of a hard copy.
David M. Stadtner, Ancient Pagan: Buddhist Plain of Merit
Bangkok: River Books, 2013
Written by a former professor of Art History who has authored many books on Indian and Burmese art, this book offers authoritative and detailed information on not just the architecture and art of the temples of Bagan but also the history of the region. It focuses on 33 of the major sites. Its photos by Michael Freeman are a standout feature. It's only available in paperback.
Ma Thanegi, Bagan Mystique
Yangon: Tanintaye Sarpay, 2011
Ma Thanegi is a Burmese writer and journalist. The book doesn't offer the level of detail of the other two and is harder to find in the West, but it still offers useful summaries of a number of the major sites. It's available in paperback only (when you can find it).
Director of Archaeological Survey (Burma), A Pictorial Guide to Pagan
Rangoon: Ministry of Union Culture, 2nd rev. ed. 1963
This is a guide compiled under the auspices of the Burmese government in the mid-1950s and early-1960s. Despite being quite outdated, it has its own value with background on a number of pagodas and temples as well as fascinating historical photos of how the monuments looked in the middle of 20th century--sometimes quite different to how they appear today after being renovated. It's long out of print and hard to find, but I've scanned it and posted it here.
Maps: When you get to Bagan, there are good local maps available for free at the hotels that show many of the major sites.