Htilominlo Temple is a large, two-story, 12th-century temple in the northern part of the Bagan plain best known for its ornate stucco decoration.
Htilominlo Temple is a large, two-story temple in the northern part of the Bagan plain. It dates to the 12th to 13th centuries and is best known for its ornate stucco decoration, especially the patterns on the ceilings of the interior arches.
The temple gets its name from umbrellas, one of the core symbols of Buddhism, denoting protection. Legend has it that the king stood a white umbrella in the middle of his five sons and declared that whichever the umbrella tilted toward was the one deserving to be his successor. It fell towards his youngest son, Zeyatheinhka, who later had Htilominlo built in tribute.1
Like many of the larger temples, its decorations were added subsequently over the centuries. Htilominlo Temple features a number of depictions of the 28 Buddhas, some of them in striking red ink, that date from between the 14th and 18th centuries.
Htilominlo Temple is to the northeast of Old Bagan village, on the northern edge of most of the temples on the plain.
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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:
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.
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.
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).
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.