Photo Tales: Facing Divine Beauty

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Aaron Hooper Aaron Hooper is a Phuket-based photographer and RL Phuket contributor. Contact Aaron for sale of limited edition prints or for private or business photography shoots bookings on
Sulaymani Guphaya Temple, Minnanthu, Myanmar. Photo: Aaron Hooper

One fortuitous afternoon I was photographing the Sulaymani Guphaya Temple in the village of Minnanthu, just outside the temple complex of Bagan in Myanmar. It’s a place where monks can be found praying at Buddha images held in this grand structure. This massive stone temple is also home to corridor after corridor of some of the most fantastic frescoes I've ever seen. These wall paintings are still in stunningly good condition and cover every inch of Sulayamani grand walls.

I wandered through the halls in awe; the temple almost empty of people; the cool dark shade of ancient stone walls a perfect respite from the harsh heat of the afternoon sun; the faint crunching of sand on the stone temple floors as I moved through the circular corridors, getting lost in the scenes painted on the walls some centuries ago.

As I came around the corner of the western wall, I stumbled upon this incredible scene. It was so cinematic it left me standing there, staring for minutes before I could gather my gear. The natural light from the archways behind the monk shone an awesome glow over the golden Buddha; the calm, placid nature of the novice monk was beautifully captured, as he looked intently into the face of the statue. I long for another trip back to Bagan, to once more search for scenes of beauty such this one.