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Kyaukgu Umin Phaya (ကျောက်ဂူဥမင်ဘုရား)

Burmese. ‘Rock Cave Tunnel Pagoda’. Name of a 12th Century AD Buddhist temple near the villages of Nyaung U and Wetkyi-in, which are located in the greater Bagan region. The construction of the temple is said to have been commissioned by King Kyansittha (fig.). It has been built into the cliff side of a ravine and consist of a high ground storey surmounted by two receding terraces on which a small pagoda is erected. Coming from the South, the temple can be entered from the top, where an archway provides entry to a descending staircase, as well as from the bottom when coming from the East, where an ascending stairway with a small gate give direct access to the lower area and cave entrance (fig.). To the West of the main area, near the staircase to or from the top, is an elevated terrace built over open shelters, as well as some other edifices. The main temple building consists of a large square hall of which the roof and the terraces above are supported by two giant arches. Opposite and facing the entrance is a large gilded Buddha image seated on a lotus throne in the bhumisparsa pose. The walls have three storeys of niches that house smaller Buddha statues in various poses and mudras. On either side of the large Buddha image are doorways that lead into a network of tunnels that run deep into the hill. Inside those tunnels are several niches and smaller caves, that are used for prayer and meditation. See MAP.