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Why Nat Taung Kyaung Monastery is special ?
Nat Taung Kyaung (or Nat-taung Monastery, also known at May-taung Taik), located in the vicinity of Taung-bi village and immediately to the north of the town walls of Old Bagan, sets in a secluded clearing amidst a wide variety of trees and vegetation. Although its date of founding is uncertain, it is probably the region's oldest, as well as its finest, wooden monastery.
Unlike the far older brick, stone and stucco stupas and temples that have survived in the Bagan Archaeological Zone, Bagan monasteries, and those of Myanmar in general, were generally made of wood. While many of the more permanent Bagan monuments indeed are in poor condition, it should be remembered they are more than 500 years older. Many of the wooden monasteries with architectural significance have disappeared over the centuries for a variety of reasons. Unlike the temples and stupas, which were sites of public veneration and worship, monasteries were places of residence for monks who had little or no income and were expected to accept their given conditions.
What to explore at Nat Taung Kyaung Monastery?
Dating back to the 18th Century, Nat Taung Kyaung is the oldest teak religious building still surviving in Bagan and maybe in all Burma. The monastery is finely carved with rosettes and other shapes and the roofs are beautifully decorated with wooden statues. It’s a little oasis of peace, far from the crowds I often met at the most famous temples.
Local people are sitting in the monastery, chatting or praying, attending their normal activities as if unaware of the few tourists strolling around. And this is what made Nat Taung Kyaung Monastery one of favorite sites in Bagan, a place blending the splendour of the past with the ordinary life of Burmese people.
How to get to Nat Taung Kyaung Monastery?
Nat Taung Kyaung is located in the vicinity of Taung-bi village and immediately to the north of the town walls of Old Bagan. It's 20 minutes driving from the Bagan Airport. E-bike and bicycle is the best way to visit the place.