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Bagaya Kyaung (ဘားဂရာ ကျောင်း)

Burmese-Mon. ‘Starflower Monastery’. Name of a wooden monastery in Inwa, which was built in 1593 AD. Its name reportedly derives from a Mon word that is said to mean Star Flower. This temple, built on a platform that is elevated from the ground by 267 gigantic teak posts (fig.), of which 44 beams are ca. 18 meters tall and extend all the way to the ceiling of the temple buildings, supporting the roofs. The focal building consists of two large halls (fig.), used for prayer, study and meditation, and which are interconnected by doorways with posts and lintels, that are magnificently decorated with wood carvings of peacocks and lotus flowers. During the daytime, the cool and dark environment of the inner halls attracts dozens of bats. These bats, a small kind of Horseshoe Bat (fig.), hang upside-down from the ceiling and in the wooden frames of the upper walls (fig.). To the east of this main hall, the platform features a minor yet tall edifice, with a seven-tiered spire and richly decorated with woodcarvings of mythological figures, such as the Galohn (fig.). The monastery can be accessed by stairways made of brick, which not only give access to the platform, but also support it from the sides. In 1821, the monastery was burnt in a fire, and despite later renovations, soot and black residue from the fire is still visible on large parts of the wooden structure today (fig.).