Myanmar's attractions lie largely in the area of the spiritual. Temples, pagodas and historical sites boasting so many attractions that it would be impossible to take them in during a single visit. With friendly locals, a tropical climate, cheap transportation and truly awesome sights, Myanmar is a fascinating and bewitching destination.
|Mandalay||Inwa||Pyin oo lwin||Monywa||Sagaing|
Being the last capital of Burmese kings and the second largest city in Myanmar, Mandalay is understandably the cultural center of Myanmar. It was built by King Mindon of Konboun Dynesty in 1859 AD, and was ruled by two kings until its fall under British rule in 1885, during the reign of King Thibaw. It is surrounded by other ancient royal capitals, Sagaing, Inwa and Amarapura, which are highly interesting sightseeing destinations due to their historical and religious importance. Despite its dwindling number, hundreds of Myanmar traditional artists still live and work in Mandalay, practicing their family trade, producing the best of Myanmar arts and crafts. You can watch traditional handicrafts being made, such as Kalaga tapestries, marionettes, bronze casting, stone and woodcarving. Mandalay also houses the most revered Buddha statue in the whole of Myanmar, Maha Myat Muni, as well as the famous stone inscription of Tri-pitaka at the base of Mandalay Hill.
Maha Myat Muni Pagoda, also known as the Mahamuni Pagoda, is the holiest pilgrimage site in Mandalay. This pagoda houses the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda Buddha image, the most ancient and most revered of all Buddha images. The pagoda was built by King Bodawpaya, who took the Buddha image during his invasion of Rakhaing.
Mandalay Hill is the landmark of Mandalay and also serves as a natural watchtower because it overlooks the city. Visitors often watch the sunrise or sunset over the city plains here because of the stunning views. According to legend, the Lord Buddha visited the hill and made a prophecy that a great city would be established at its foot.
Mandalay Palace, also known as the Myan Nan San Kyaw, or Royal Palace, was the first palace to be built in Mandalay. Constructed by King Mindon, who moved his capital from Amarapura to Mandalay, the location was chosen because of astronomical calculations and favourable omens. The entire palace complex was destroyed by fire during World War II, but it has been restored.
Shwenandaw Kyaung is not only another example of a traditional Burmese monastery, but also a piece of the old Mandalay Palace. Part of the royal palace where King Mindon died, the teak structure was moved out of the palace under King Thibaw in 1880 and was converted into a monastery.
Kuthodaw Pagoda is home to what is considered as the world's largest book. The pagoda is surrounded with 729 slabs, with each slab having its own stupa and all 15 books of the Tripitaka are inscribed on the slabs. The building of this pagoda was started by King Mindon in1857, the same time work began on the Royal Palace.
Sandamuni Pagoda is most notable for its resemblance to the Kuthodaw Pagoda, because the Sandamuni also has many slender whitewashed ancillary stupas in its grounds. The Sandamuni Pagoda is best known for the Iron Buddha Sandamuni cast by King Bodawpaya of the Konbaung Dynasty in 1802. The cast was brought from Amarapura to its present location in 1874 by King Mindon.
Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, whose name means ‘Great Marble Buddha Image’ was built by King Mindon in 1853 using the Ananda Temple in Bagan as a model. This is why the pagoda sharply resembles the Ananda's exterior. The fame of this attraction can be attributed solely to the large seated Buddha figure made from a single block of pale green marble. It is said that 10,000 men spent 13 days transporting the image from the Irrawaddy River to its current site.
Known as the Kingdom of Inwa during the Second Myanmar Empire, today it is a small town south of Amarapura. The sights to see in In-wa include Nanmyint Watch Tower, Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, Bagaya Monastery, the lacquerware factory and Inwa Bridge spanning the Ayeyarwad River.
The former British hill station of Maymyo, 67 km east of Mandalay, stands about 1,000 meters above sea level. Though the town was damaged during World War II, several of the old English houses were spared. This is also the centre for Myanmar's small but burgeoning new coffee industry.
Peik Chin Myaing Cave houses many Buddha images, and some models of Myanmar's most revered pagodas. The cave lies in a beautiful setting with some waterfalls around. It is a favourite weekend destination for local tourists.
Monywa is about 140 km to the west of Mandalay is a commercial centre of the Chindwin Valley. Monywa serves as a major agricultural trade center for the Chindwin Valley. There is also a crater lake near the town which measures 5,363 meters in circumference and is set amidst lush scenic surroundings.
Thanboddhay Payais the major attraction for visitors. It has 845 smaller stupas surrounding the richly decorated central stupa. It was first built in 1303 and is said to enclose more than 7,350 relics and other holy materials.
Po Win Daung Caveslocated just across the Chindwin River and reached by ferry. The caves are famous for their Buddha statues, mural paintings and woodcarvings. There are quite a few legends about the caves, related mostly to Nats (the Myanmar spirits). There are supposed to have been over 400,000 Buddha images caved out in the caves.
Once an ancient capital, Sagaing lies 21km south west of the Ayeyarwad River. The Sagaing Hills are dotted with pagodas and there are over 500 monasteries, a retreat for some 6000 monks and nuns. Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, Kaung Hmudaw Pagoda, and Ywahtaung village are places worth visiting.
Kaungmudaw Pagoda is easy to spot because of its imposing structure. The most recognized of all Sagaing stupas, this large dome with a whitewashed edifice was modelled on the Great Stupa in Sri Lanka. The pagoda, which is 46 meters high, was built to commemorate Inwa's establishment as the royal capital of Myanmar.
Ponya Shin Zedi, on Sagaing Hill with a number of other zedis, was constructed in 1312 and offers an outstanding view of Sagaing.
|MANDALAY AND AREA|