Mid 12th century
Merit of King Alaung Sithu (r. 1112-1166)
Rising to 210 ft, the Thatbyinnyu is one of the most majestic of Bagan temples which is popular to visit in a Bagan tour. There are few exterior or interior decorative motifs apart from the vertical flame pediments rising from the great archways. Perhaps the donor and architect agreed to infuse grandeur into this temple without distraction from intricate stucco work or paintings, as seen on almost all other great temples in Bagan. Or perhaps, as scholars believe, the temple was still incomplete when Alaung Sithu was killed by his son: on the upper terraces there are 539 shallow niches, still empty, seemingly made for glazed plaques.
The temple is three storeys high. The two lower levels are immense halls, square in shape and separated by three receding terraces. The third floor is melded into the tapering terraces that rise into a domed pyramid, which is finally crowned with a slender spire, complete with a ‘Hti’ umbrella.