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The Dhammayangyi temple in Bagan.

The Dhammayangyi temple in Bagan.

One of the coolest things about the massive temples of Bagan in Myanmar is that they are quite unlike most ancient structures.  Most ancient structures are not remotely intact.  And most intact ones don’t have passages.  The monuments of Bagan boast both these qualities.  And these passageways are on multiple storeys in most of the monuments.

However,most have the stairs leading to the upper levels blocked off by a locked metal gate.

In one of the coolest looking and historically most intriguing temples, Dhammayangyi, is actually sealed up with brick and mortar in every one of the dozens of inner passage doorways.  It’s said this was done soon after construction to help stabilize the structure.  It seems to have worked considering it’s still standing many centuries later.

One of the many sealed doors inside Dhammayangyi.

One of the many sealed doors inside Dhammayangyi.

But those sealed doors beg the question of what’s left inside?  Certainly more than the faded stucco murals still in the air-exposed temple today.

So what’s tempting?  I was hinted by a local to a off-track, unsealed staircase leading to an exterior window.  But, this was also at the top:


That ledge is about 5-6 inches.

I considered going over Tomb Raider style, knowing that it had to lead to something otherwise inaccessible, but gave into my better judgement and didn’t.  A sad day for adventure-archaologists everywhere.

See?  So saddening . . .

See? So saddening . . .

Benjamin Williams

Hi all, my name is Ben. I’m a native Michigander with a passion for human culture and new places, and more than that, new experiences. I have degrees in archaeology and writing, pursuing a career in the latter. However, I never quite lost that fascination for archaeological theory. For the past 11 years, I’ve been living and travelling between Asia, Europe, and North America, documenting ancient sites and the peoples who built them, and then adapting them into practical archaeological travel information at


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