Adjacent to the Ananda Temple, the Thatbyinnyu Temple (or Sabbannu in Burmese) stands out even from a distance. With its 61-meters-high (201 feet), the Thatbyinnyu is the tallest structure in Bagan.
The feeling is, no matter where you are in Bagan, every time you get a sight of those vast plains you will see the Thatbyinnyu and its beautiful golden tips.
With a design very close to the Htilominlo and Sulamani temples, the Thatbyinnyu differs from those and many other structures in Bagan because of its white and grey façade (most of the temples use red bricks on their constructions), and because it does feel spacious, not claustrophobic as the Shinbinthalyaung, for example.
A Sikhara tower forms the top of the pagoda. This tower is smaller and not gilded as the one on Ananda. The temple has four levels and the corridors enshrine a large number of Buddha images on pedestals and, outside of the temple, it is possible to see the Tally pagoda. The story says that for every 10,000 bricks used on the Thatbyinnyu, one was put aside for the Tally construction.
On the terraces, more than 500 tiles depicting the Jataka tales are missing, only leaving the indentations they were before.
An earthquake in 1975 left the Thatbyinnyu very damaged and a restoration happened years later. Unfortunately, in order to preserve the temple from further deterioration, the upper floors, as well as the terraces are now closed.
Although the interior of the temple is bland, the views from the outside are great, the same to say about its brickwork, excellent as the unfinished Dhammayangyi, the largest temple in Bagan.
It is a great alternative if you do not like to visit crowded places. Especially for the sunset, since most people prefer to go to Ananda its famous neighbor.