Htilominlo Temple – Bagan Myanmar

The Htilominlo temple is a large majestic structure towering 46 meters high. Its design is similar to that of the Sulamani, which was build about three decades earlier by the previous King. The monument is named after its builder, King Htilominlo who was also known as Zeya Theinkha and Nadaungmyar.

According to legend, Htilominlo was chosen to be the next King out of the five sons of King Narapatisithu. The five sons stood in a circle with a white umbrella in the center. When the umbrella would tilt and point towards one of the sons, that son was to be the next King. As the umbrella pointed towards Htilominlo, he was chosen. It is said that the Htilominlo pagoda was built on the spot where he was selected as the next King.

Architecture of the Htilominlo

The Htilominlo is a brick structure, that was originally plastered with white stucco, some of which is still in place. The intricately carved stucco contains depictions of ogresses and mythological animals like Makara sea creatures.

The temple is set on a low platform and has a symmetrical floor plan, but for the Eastern entrance porch that extends further out than the other three. The massive lower cube is topped with three receding terraces. The much smaller second cube has another three terraces. All of them contain small stupas on each of its corners.

The terraces are fitted with a set of glazed terracotta plaques with scenes from the Jataka tales, the stories about the previous lives of the Buddha. Unfortunately, many of the tiles have not survived.

Each side of the square temple has an entrance porch, that are all richly decorated. The porch of the Eastern gate extends out further from the structure than the other entrances, which breaks the symmetry of the building.

Sikhara and hti topping the Htilominlo

The top of the Htilominlo temple comprises of a sikhara, an ornamental tower originating from Northern India. The sikhara is similar to that of the Ananda, except that it is not gilded. A gilded hti, a spire shaped like an umbrella is placed on the sikhara.

Inside the temple

The walls from the entrances leading to the inner sanctuary contain arched recesses in which small Buddha images are enshrined. Both floors contain four large gilded Buddha images, each facing one side of the temple. The second floor has been closed to visitors. The temple contains beautiful murals and frescoes of Buddhist depictions done in several colors. Some of them have faded considerably.

To protect the temple from decay, the terraces are closed and it is no longer possible to climb to the top.  The complex is surrounded by a wall with elaborate entrance gates. The Htilominlo temple was damaged during the 1975 earthquake, and has since been restored.