Bagan, an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma (Myanmar).
The origins of Bagan to this day still remain unclear. Burmese chronicles suggest that Bagan was founded in the 2nd century AD, and fortified in 849 AD. Modern scholarship however proposes a later foundation, dating to more around the 9th century AD. During the kingdom’s peak in the 11-13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, monasteries and pagodas were constructed, of which 2,200 remain today.
Archaeological evidence as well as Bagan’s location between Halingyi in the north and Sri Ksetra in the south point suggest that Bagan had Pyu origins. The Burmans began migrating from Nan-Chou in present-day Yunnan to the Ayeyarwaddy valley in the 6th century. Over time the Burman established themselves at Bagan, gradually displacing the Pyu. When the Non-Chou kingdom invaded and sacked Halingyi in ca. 832-835, it destroyed the last major Pyu center in Upper Burma, thereby creating a power vaccum into which the Burmans stepped, displauing Pyu influence.
By 874 CE, Bagan had become a major city and by the 11th century it was a burgeoning regional power in Southeast Asia.
From sunrise to sunset, photographer Kris Trezegoal captures hot air balloons rising and falling above the sacred temples of Bagan, Myanmar.
The ancient city and former capital is home to more than 2,500 Buddhist monuments built from the tenth to the fourteenth centuries, according to UNESCO. The UN cultural organization previously declined Myanmar’s 1996 bid for Bagan to receive World Heritage status due to inauthentic restorations (TIME).
Myanmar is one of the fastest growing international tourist markets in the world. (The Boston Globe). Fun fact: Beyonce and Jay-Z are among the 3 million visitors Myanmar received in 2014.