By Thiha the Traveller
There were many places in our country that were depicted as Little Bagan or Second Bagan. But temples in Sarle Village where I’d been were very much like the temples in Bagan. For those who had been to Bagan, who are interested in mural painting and who love ancient cultures, temples in Sarle Village will be treasures of immense value.
I get to know Sarle Village from “Record of ancient buildings in Myingun, Kyundaw and Salay region” published by Ministry of Culture and articles written by Saya Yanaung (Dwe). According to locals it is a region where there were many blacksmith works and indeed there were many evidence of it. Many iron works and swords were made here in such abundance that the products of blacksmiths could even be traded with salts. Exchanging (le in Myanmar) salt (sar in Myanmar) with sword (dar in Myanmar) in Myanmar language was “Sar Dar Le” which gradually change to Sar Le and then finally to Salay Village. When I was there Salay Village was quite a big village. With roads in the village constructed systematically it was quite a pleasant place and I wish that it could become a place for Community Based Tourism (CBT).
Bagan near Salay Village that wasn’t Bagan
Salay Village wasn’t much far from Ayeyawady River. Right at the entrance of the village were three Bagan type temples. From there on there were clusters of ancient pagodas and temples. It seems to have been neglected for a considerable time in the past and there were pagoda robbers who dug for enshrined valuables from the Buddha images and dais on which the images were placed. Just like the grave robbers of ancient Egypt pyramids who dug out valuable ancient relics. As such most of the Buddha images and the dais were being repaired. But it was a great pleasure to see mural paintings in most of the temples and pagodas remains just as it was painted on in the ancient time. The temples and pagodas here were considered to be constructed about a century after the Bagan pagodas and temples were built so it all must have been constructed around 12th to 13th century. The pagodas and temples were in a cluster of three or four located on small hills.
I was trekking from one cluster to another viewing and observing it one by one. There were some pagodas or temples that are two tiers or two story and with cave like inside. There were some that can be ascended or entered while some had a strong smell of bats inside that prevent one from ascending or entering it. I entered and ascended one. Only when I was on top that I realize how close I was to Ayeyawady River. I can also see farmlands dotted with clusters of ancient pagodas and temples too.
Ko Myint Swe who was a Salay villager as well as a staff of archaeology research department said that there were about 40 pagodas and temples there. It was nice to see that there were archaeology research department personnel in all the pagodas and temples to preserve and protect the ancient buildings and mural paintings. Entries and exist at the pagodas and temples with doors that were kept locked when no one was around. As most pagodas and temples were of similar design, I visited only about 15.
How to go there?
Salay Village can be reached via Chauak and Salay town. I took a road from Salay town to Shinpin Sa Kyo Pagoda that was an asphalt covered paved road. The road was just about two-lane wide and a bit narrow but there wasn’t much car traffic. However, be careful of motorcycles just as on any rural roads. Once in awhile you may encounter an ox or cattle drawn farm cart. After the pagoda the road became a narrower earth and rock road so the going is a bit time consuming from thereon even though the distance wasn’t very far. Some rains cause the road to become a bit muddy making the short trip harder and longer. During summer, the road could be dusty so be prepared for this too if you are going there in summer. The road from Yenangyaung was said to be shorter taking you through the Yenangyaung Industrial Zone.
Why visit Salay Village?
The main reasons to visit Salay Village are
• A place where Bagan-like pagodas and temples can be seen
• The pagodas and temples there were just about the same age as Bagan but had more mural paintings remaining just as it was first painted
• More cement art-works also remain just as it was first made
The visit to Salay Village during my trip to central Myanmar was a very satisfactory one. I was able to observe our ancient art works and historical relics. It was also thanks to Ko Tun and Ma Khaing of Salay House, writer and guide Saya U Latt as well as Ko Myint Swe from archaeology research department who helped in any possible way toward making my trip to Salay Village a pleasant and informative one. (Translated by Handytips)