This incredible wooden monastery is the oldest structure of its kind in the Bagan region. There’s evidence that in previous centuries, similar architectural gems were widespread throughout Myanmar, but fire, conflict, pests, and natural elements conspired to erase most of them. With the odds stacked against it, it’s a marvel that this monastery has survived to this day.
Nat Taung Kyaung is not far from Old Bagan. There’s no consensus as to the exact date of its construction, but the most credible estimates claim it’s more than 200 years old.
It’s important to note that Nat Taung Kyaung is not a temple, but a monastery. Most temples were built using stones, bricks, and stucco, but Nat Taung Kyaung, like most other monasteries from its era, is made of wood, a humbler material leading to a limited life expectancy. But as vulnerable as the material may be, Nat Taung Kyaung was built with teak and padauk wood, which, though not as durable as stone or bricks, is still extremely strong and humidity-resistant.
In line with the Burmese architectural tradition, Nat Taung Kyaung exhibits a number of towers with multilayered roofs (pyatthat) and it sits on a wooden platform that forms its base. The intricate carvings decorating the various elements of the monastery have been weathered by the elements, but they still survive as a testimony to the craftsmanship of the artisans that sculpted them. Some restoration work has been undertaken to preserve this architectural jewel.
Know Before You Go
Nat Taung Kyaung is located in Taung-bi village, north of Old Bagan, along the Irrawaddy River. It is an active monastery, with monks residing in the premise.