Dhammayangyi Temple, situated on the plains of Bagan, might be mistaken for one of the early pyramids of Egypt from afar. Larger than other temples in Bagan, its pyramid-like structure consists of a massive square base topped by six receding terraces. There are four entrances, the main one is on the eastern side of the complex.
Dhammayangyi Temple was built around 1167 under the order of King Narathu during his ruthless three-year reign. Narathu claimed the throne by murdering his father and his elder brother and it is thought he built the temple to atone himself of the bad karma from this act.
A brutal history
Historical chronicles of the region state that King Narathu was assassinated while construction of the temple was still in progress. There are several stories that exist about this event. One is that the king was murdered by a group of Indians sent by the King of Pateikkaya to avenge the killing of the Princess of Pateikkaya, who was one of Naruthu's wives. Another story is that Narathu was murdered by Sri Lankan invaders.
The brickwork of the Dhammayangyi Temple was undertaken with great precision. The bricks were packed so tightly that there was no need for mortar. On King Narathu's orders, any worker who failed to perform the work perfectly had his hands chopped off. Some were even killed.
The temple was never fully completed. Construction probably ceased after the assassination of the king. Much of the temple’s interior is filled with construction debris to this day. It's not known exactly why this is – it was possibly intentionally done by workers who resented the king's harsh rule or wanted to prevent his ghost from leaving the temple. Because of this, the four porches and the outer corridors are the only accessible areas of the temple.