Around Mandalay

mandalay-around Amarapura
Mingun
Monywa
Inwa
Pyin Oo Lwin
Mogok
Sagaing
Shwebo
Palate

U Bein Bridge in Amarapura is a tourist destination near Mandalay. Across the Ayeyarwaddy River. on the west side. lies the Great Mingun Pahtodawgyi and Mingun Bell. Crossing the Ayeyarwaddy River is another exciting feature. Pyin Oo Lwin is the City of Flowers with rare species. Mogok produces the best gems in the world.



Amarapura

Amarapura lies on the left bank of the Ayarwaddy River. A suburb of Mandalay. it is also known as Taung-myo (Southern Town) or Myohaung (Old City). Founded by King Bodawpaya in 1783 as his new capital. Amarapura means City of Immortality. Amarapura was the capital city of Myanmar. during the Konbaung Dynasty. It was founded by King Bodawpaya in 1782 AD. as the king transferred the capital from Innwa (or Ava). King Bagyidaw. grandson of Bodawpaya shifted the capital back to Innwa in 1823. but King Tharrawaddy his successor again took the capital back to Amarapura in 1837 and it remained as the capital until King Mindon built Mandalay in 1857 and shifted the capital there in 1860.

About Amarapura

Visitors to Amarapura can still see the tombs of King Bodawpaya who died there on 5th June 1819. located to the north of Shwezaga Pagoda. and also of King Bagyidaw. located east of Pyatthat Gyi Village . King Bagyidaw died in Amarapura on 15th October 1846 after being de-throned in 1837. These two white washed brick mausoleums have inscriptions in English and Myanmar. They are actually small chedis (pagodas) enshrining the cremated bones of the two famous kings. There is another smaller chedi enshrining the bones of King Tharrawaddy who died in Amarapura on 17th November 1846. This is located to the north of the palace site close to the present family lines of the 3rd Battalion. Electrical and Mechanical Engineersl Corps II. Tourists can ask the local people to guide them to these mausoleums.

Amarapura is famous for the Silk Weaving Industry. Most of the Myanmar people are very proud to attend the cultural ceremonies with Achiek Longyi. mainly produced from Amarapura. Not very far from Mandalay city and accessible by car.

Click here to see the Map of Amarapura

Interesting Places

U Bein Bridge

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U Bein Bridge is about three quarter of a mile. crossing the Taung-tha-man Inn (lake). It is one of the most attractive spot for tourists. It is the longest teak bridge in the world and is about two centuries old.

This bridge became to be known as U Bein Bridge after the name of the donor. U Bein who was a clerk to the Mayor of Amarapura. It was constructed in 1849 from old planks and timber posts of dismantled houses in Sagaing and Inwa. It took nearly two years to finish. but since it was opened in 1851 it has constantly been in use by the people and in recent years by foreign visitors also. There are now 1086 posts and 482 spans. At 9 points. were what served as drawbridges which were built to allow the royal barges and war boats to go under the bridge and out to the Ayeyarwadi River in the old days.

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda

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The Kyauktawgyi Pagoda was built by King Bagan in 1847 on the model of the Ananda Temple at Bagan.

It closely resembles the Ananda in exterior form but it falls short of the latter in construction and interior decoration. Unlike the Ananda. which has perfect vaulted roofs. the Kyauktawgyi has wooden rafters and beams. which account for the weakness of the structure. There is one principal image carved out of a single block of Sagyin marble. The walls in the east and south porches are adorned with paintings depicting many religious buildings erected by the donor and other kings in different parts of the country. and scenes from contemporary Burmese life.

Pahtodawgyi Pagoda

In the southern part of Amarapura. the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda modeled on the Mahazedi of Sri Lanka. The foundation of this pagoda was laid by King Bagyidaw and his Queen on 2nd March 1820. The pagoda was completed on 19th February 1824. The base measures 180 feet in circumference. and the height also measures 180 feet. The official title of the pagoda is Maha Vijayaramsi. This well preserved pagoda stood outside the old city walls. The lower terraces have marble slabs illustrating scenes from the Jataka. You'll have a fine view over the surrounding countryside from the upper terrace. An inscription stone. within the temple precincts. details the history of the pagoda's construction.

Shwe Gu Gyi Pagoda

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Located on the west of the railways compound and between wards Zay Cho and Hman Dan. there is a temple called Shwe Gu Gyi (Golden Big Cave). One contemporary inscritpiton found at the cave temple mentioned that the ruin left by King Narapati Sithu (AD 1174) was repaired by the Crwon Prince (Sirimahadhammabhidhaja Sihasura) who held Shwe Daung and Dapayin in fief and his consort (Siri Tilakamaha Subbadda ratanadevi) in the time of King Badon (1782-1819). The repairs were completed in Sakkaraj 1145 (AD 1783). For the maintenance of the pagoda. the religious land is given. In area it measures 820 pe. For keeping the pagoda precincts clean and for doing necessary repairs from time to time 63 workers (male and female) are also given. The height of the whole edifice is 90 feet. For stucco carvings of Amarapura as an exteriro decoration one has to study them. On the south of the Shwe Gu Gyi there is  Shwe Gu Tha which is also a cave temple but it has the best for paintings for interiro decoration. Both temples are under the care of the Archaeological Department.

Mahar Wai Yan Bon Thar Bargaya Monastery

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Palace Ruins

Little remains of the old Amarapura palace but you can still find two masonry buildings -- the treasury building and the old watchtower. King Bagyidaw and King Bodawpaya were both buried here and their tombs also remain. The corner pagodas still stand at the four corners of the once square city.

Monywa

Monywa is a city in central Myanmar and situated on the eastern bank of the Chindwin Rive. Mandalay Division. It lies 136 km north-west of Mandalay along the Mandalay-Budalin branch railway line. Monywa serves as a major trade center for India and Burma through Kalay Myo road and Chindwin river.

The name Monywa comes from "Mon" meaning "cake or snack food" and "Ywa" which is the Myanmar word for village. There is a legend which says that in the old days a Myanmar king fell in love with a seller of cakes from this town and made her his queen. The original name some say. is Mon - thema- ywa or " Village of the woman cake seller". There has been a big village at Monywa from the Bagan Period. The classical name for Monywa is Thalawadi. The chronicles mention that Monywa was one of the places where King Alaungphayar encamped for the night on his campaign to Manipur in 1758. During the Myanmar kings' time Monywa remained just a big village as the administrative centre for the region was at Ahlon. It was only a year after the Annexation of 1886 that Monywa became the Headquarters of the Lower Chindwin District. In the last few years with the legalizing of the border trade with India. Monywa has grown into a bustling trading.
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Monywa Town

In Monywa town. there are busy markets. popular restuarants. a Degree College affiliated to Mandalay University. a Technical High School. and soon there will be an Institute of Economics. the second after the one in Yangon.

Monywa Hotel. now privatised. has comfortable four-room bungalows with attached amenities. all air-conditioned. centre. second only to Mandalay in the Upper Myanmar region.

If you are travelling to Monwya by car you should stop about 20 kilometres before you reach the town to visit this most unusual Buddhist temple complex on 37 acres of land which is part of the Mohnyin Forest Monastery retreat. The pagoda was started on 20th June 1939 and completed on 2nd March 1952.It was the brain-child of the famous Mohnyin Sayadaw whose life-like effigy can be seen nearby.

If you can go at the beginning of the Myanmar month of Tazaungmone ( usually around November). you can see the annual pagoda festival. which goes on for several days when the villagers from all around come to enjoy the music and dancing. and buy from the various stalls set up by sellers from all over the country.

Interesting Places

Thanboddhay Pagoda

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If you are travelling to Monwya by car you should stop about 20 kilometres before you reach the town to visit this most unusual Buddhist temple complex on 37 acres of land which is part of the Mohnyin Forest Monastery retreat. The pagoda was started on 20th June 1939 and completed on 2nd March 1952.It was the brain-child of the famous Mohnyin Sayadaw whose life-like effigy can be seen nearby.

Some visitors say that this Pagoda reminds them of Borobodur. as it is similar in architectural design. Unlike Borobodur this is a modern place of worship. well maintained. and with interesting samples of modern Buddhist art. There are many different Buddha images. row upon row in ascending tiers in niches along the walls: the total number is 582. 257. an amazing figure! Unlike most of the pagodas in Myanmar. the entrance is not guarded by Chinthes. the mythical lions. but by statues of a pair of magnificant white elephants which are sacred and auspicious in Buddhist symbolism.
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Thanboddhay is the only pagoda with this unique shape in the whole country. The square temple base (each side about 166 feet) which worshippers can enter is topped by receding terraces. with myriads of small stupas (864 in number) surrounding the central golden chedi. 132 feet in height.

Tourists can study and take photos of the twenty tagundaing. huge decorated pillars. and also big masonary fruits in the shape of bunches of bananas and coconuts. water melon. mangos. jackfruits. papaya and so on . These fruits are also objects of veneration for the local farmers.

If you can go at the beginning of the Myanmar month of Tazaungmone ( usually around November). you can see the annual pagoda festival. which goes on for several days when the villagers from all around come to enjoy the music and dancing. and buy from the various stalls set up by sellers from all over the country.

Travel Tips

Entrance Fees : US$3

Bodhi Tahtaung and Po Khaung Taung

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From Thanboddhay Pagoda you can go by car about five miles along a good branch road to Po Khaung Taung. a small range of hills in the Monywa area. There you will see more unusual sights not found in other parts of Myanmar.

First you should stop for a while in the fast growing forest of one thousand Bodhi trees (Ficus religiosa); this Bo or pipal tree is sacred to all Buddhists because Gaudama Buddha attained Enlightenment while meditating under this tree.

A much venerated Sayadaw now popularly known as the Bodhi Tahtaung Sayadaw who can make your wishes come true. first started planting this forest grove about two decades ago. Each tree has a large Buddha image underneath. and many Buddhist come to pay obseisance there. It is a pleasant. peaceful place. filled with the song of birds. in a protected environment where nature and men are in perfect harmony.
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Just beyond Bodhi Tahtaung. a short stroll towards the east will bring you to the Po Khaung Taung. a range of hills where you can see one of the largest reclining Buddha images in the world. Measuring 300 ft in length it is even bigger than the colossal Shwethalyaung reclining Buddha image in Bago (Pegu) which has a length of 180 ft. only. The head is 60 ft. in height. It was only built in 1991 and up to now there is still no roof or shelter to protect it from the elements.

This huge image has a hollow cave-like structure inside and you can walk from the head to the feet. You will then see inside 9.000 one foot high metal images of the Buddha and his disciples in various postures. There are also representations of some of the important events in the life of the Buddha.

If you are interested in Buddha footprints you can study the 108 auspicious symbols which are depicted on the soles of this huge image.

Aung Sakkya Pagoda

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Near the reclining Buddha image. also on Po Khaung Taung range is the Aung Sakkya Pagoda . 441.75 ft in height (including the base of 216.75 ft).

This pagoda is a landmark for the area around Monywa as it can be seen from afar. It is surrounded by 1.060 smaller satellite pagodas which shelter over a thousand sacred images of the Buddha.

Pho Win Hill

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The hills have probably been occupied since the dawn of human habitation in Myanmar; to the south - west lies the Pon Daung Pon Nya mountain range. where the fossilised remains of Pontaung Mon's may have lived 30 million years ago - were found.

The caves themselves contain Buddhist statues and murals dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Most exhibit the Inwa style. though some may date as for back as the 14th to16th centuries. A covered stairway climbs a hill to the main cave shrine. but there are dozens of large and small caves in the area filled with old Buddha images. There are over 400.000 images in these and other nearby caves.

Shwe Ba Hill

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Shwe Ba Hill. just beyond Pho Win Hill. features unique pavilions cut from the surrounding sandstone and filled with plain Buddha images.

Shweba Taung is on the West Bank of Chindwin river.

There. temples and caves are curved out of volcanic rocks and inside walls of some caves are decorated with 13 century / 18 century mural paintings.

Travel Tips

Entrance Fees : US$5

Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda

The Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda is about 20 miles east of Monywa. The Buddha image in the pagoda is offered (stick) by gold foils and the face of the Buddha image could not be make out very easily. Typical black and gold lacquer ware from nearby Kyaukka is the festival's speciality. Held from the 5th to the 8th waning day of Kason. Shweguni Pagoda is famous for its magnificent architecture.

Nearby Attractions

Monywa can also be the base for visiting Kyaukka. Kyaukka . a town about ten miles to the east. second only to Bagan as a center for the Myanmar lacquer-ware cottage industry. A few hours drive will also bring you to Twintaung hill. an extinct volcano whose crater now forms a beautiful lake. The surrounding area has lush vegetation. and views of the area from the rim of this crater lake is breathtaking.

The Ledi Kyaung Monastery is also well worth visiting. Built by the famous Ledi Sayadaw. a renowned Pali scholar. there are now 806 stone slab inscriptions which preserve some of the Sayadaw's writings.

A few hours drive will also bring you to Twin Taung Hill. an extinct volcano whose crater now forms a beautiful lake. The surrounding area has lush vegetation. and there are lovely views of the area from the rim of this crater lake.

Visitors are welcome to travel to Monywa and environs; see the interesting places and scenic views. and take back memorable experiences of typical Myanmar warmth and hospitality.

Mingun

Mingun is located on the western bank of the river Ayeyarwaddy. approximately 7 miles north of Mandalay. It is reached by ferryboats across the river and takes 1 hour for up-river and 40 minutes for down-river. It is famous for many Buddhist shrines. monasteries. meditation centres and monuments of historical and cultural importance. A boat trip to Mingun is pleasant with plenty of life on the river to see. It is about 11 miles from Sagaing and you can reach there by road. It takes about 30 minutes. And you can also travel to Mingun from Mandalay but you can get there by road. It is about 7 miles up river from Mandalay and you can accessible only by boat. Via Gawwein jetty.
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The journey takes 45 minutes.When you come along the motor way to Mingun from Sagaing. you will first arrive at Kandawgyi. one of the prominent big four in Mingun. Kandawgyi was formed while digging earth to make bricks for building of Mingun Pahtodawgyi. It was built by King Bodaw Badon in 1791. You will arrive at Mingun Pahtodawgyi from Kandawgyi .Now. we are here at the Mingun Pahtodawgyi from the top of the Pagoda you can view the scene of Mingun and Ayeyawady river. You can use this stair to climb to the top and there are all together 174 steps.

It is reached by ferryboats across the river and takes 1 hour for up-river and 40 minutes for down-river. The journey takes 45 minutes.When you come along the motor way to Mingun from Sagaing. you will first arrive at Kandawgyi. one of the prominent big four in Mingun.

Click here to see Mingun Map

Interesting Places

 

Mingun Paya (Pahtodawgyi)

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It is one of the famous buildings in the world. The building of Mingun Pahtodawgyi started in 1791. Hand it been completed it would have a height of some 500 feet. It was stopped at 162 feet height. Its girth is about 450 square feet. This is Pondawya Pagoda which is prototype of Mingun Pahtodawgyi. You can study Myanmar arts and crafts of Kongbaung period in Mingun Pahtodawgyi. King Bodawpaya built Mingun Pahtodawgyi aiming to worship from Shwebo in the distance where he has ascended the throne. The pagoda was left unfinished. Two enormous prominent statues of lions in Mingun. one of the tourist atttractions is at the east stairway of Pahtodawgyi which faces the Ayeyawaddy river.From here. you can also enjoy natural scenic beauty of Ayeyawady river and green and pleasant Minwun hill. If this pagoda been completed. then it would have been the largest monument. This unfinished structure was badly damaged with cracks by the earthquake of 1838 but it is still the largest brick base in the world.

Mingun Bell

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King Bodawpaya dedicated a big bronze bell near the Mingun Cedi at Mingun on the west bank of the Ayeyawaddy River. facing Mandalay.

The Bell was made of bronze; but it is said that Buddhist devotees inserted gold. silver ornaments and jewellery into the bronze.

The Bell measures eleven cubits and four thits (fingers) in diameter at its mouth; 33 cubits. one mit (6 inches) and four thits in circumference and 13 cubits. one mit and four thits in height. It weighs 55555 viss.
It is the world's biggest ringing bell.

Hsinbyume or Myatheindan Pagoda

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Built by King Bagyidaw in 1816. three years before he succeeded Bodawpaya as king. the pagoda was constructed in memory of his senior wife the Hsinbyume princess. It is built as a representation of the Sulamani Pagoda which. according. to the Buddhist plan of the cosmos. stands atop Mount Meru. The seven wavy terraces around the pagoda represent the seven mountain ranges around Mount Meru. This pagoda was badly damaged in 1838 by a quake but King Mindon restored it in 1874.

Mingun Home for the Aged

It is one of the tourist attractions. It was founded by Daw Oo Zun herself in senior year in 1915 with a view to looking after old destitute and in need of care and comfort. It is the first home for the ages establish in Myanmar.

Another place you can study is the monastery where Sayadaw U Viseitta Sara Vivamsa winner of Tipitaka Title resided. The late sayadaw was listed in the Guinness Book of records as one of the most intelligent men in the world.

Then you arrive at Mandalay and Sagaing. your journey is not complete without visiting Mingun which is rich in historical memorials and Buddhist edifies. Arts and Crafts on Mingun are genurine Myanmar artistic work. That is why. Mingun has been a well know place. since Kongbaung era like Mandalay.

Inwa (Ava)

Inwa was formerly known as Ava and it is located 21km from Mandalay. Inwa was also known as Yadana Pura. It was first founded as a capital by King Thado Minbya in 1364 A.D. It is the confluence of the Ayeyarwaddy & Myint Nge rivers. But the king had a canal dug to join the Myint Nge and Myint Tha rivers thus cutting off the capital as an island. safe from enemy attacks. As successive kings ruled the war with King Raza Darit of Bago for many years. the Shan chief Thohan Bwa took the advantage and overran the capital. Gradually the kingdom grew weaker and finally it became a vassal to the Taungoo Empire. Later kings shifted the capital from Inwa back and forth many times until King Bayint Naung's son King Nyaung Yan re-established his capital at Inwa in 1596 A.D. It continued to be capital till 1782 when Bodawpaya moved the capital to Amarapura. But his son King Bagyidaw moved his capital back to Inwa. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1838.
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The ruins of the palace. the massive fort walls and moat can still be seen of the splendour of the past when it had been the capital for more than four and half centuries. Inwa lies south of Mandalay and can from there in only 30 minutes of drive be attained. This old king city was long time capital of Oberburma. The foreign country was at present well-known Myanmar as the Kingdom of Ava.The king palace at that time does not exist any longer. however still the Nanmyint awake tower. From 27 meters height of bird perspective one can examine the range of the historical place. Numerous pagodas. temple and monasteries outlasted however Inwas' eventful past. The monastery Maha Aung Myay Bon Zan built with brick and stucco is particularly interesting. It was established to 1818 by the queen Me Nu for the royal abbot at that time U Po.
On the road to Sagaing. just before you reach the Inwa bridge. there is a road branching east ward. The Inwa bridge crosses the Ayeyarwaddy River. This road leads to a ferry station where you can cross the Myittha river to reach Inwa.

Interesting Places

Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery (Me Nu Oak-kyaung)

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The Maha Aung Mye Bonzan. well known as Me Nu Oak-kyaung (Brick Monastery). was built in 1822 by Nanmadaw Me Nu. Chief Queen of King Bagyidaw. for the royal abbot Nyaunggan Sayardaw U Po. then offered to the 2nd Nyaunggan Sayardaw U Bok. I was also damaged by the earthquake of 1838 but was repaired in 1873 by Sinphyumashin. the daughter of Me Nu and a queen of King Mindon. This monastery is one of the finest specimens of Myanmar architecture during the Konbaung Period (19th century). Its architecture is in simulation of wooden monasteries with multiple roofs and a prayer hall of seven-tiered superstructure.

The Grand Bargaya Monastery

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The name Bargaya is a Mon word. It literally means Khayebin Kyaung. The Bagaya monastery was built on the southwest of Inwa palace on 1593. During Hsin Phyu Shin's reign (1763-1776. Atwinwun Mahathirijeyathankhya. town officer of Magwe built the monastery in the Bagaya monastic establishment and dedicated to Shin Dhammabhinanda. During King Bagyidaw (1819-1837) the great fire broke out to Kontha quarter. to the south of the palace on 15 April 1821 and Hluttaw. tooth relic tower. watch tower and to northern gate caught fire and seemed that the Bagaya monastery was burnt in the fire.The government tried to reconstruct in 1992. It intends to build a ( gadhakuti) special shrine for the use of Buddha image and Pitaka scriptures. So it put the new Brick building in the place of the old monastery. It was recorded that the monastery was constructed on the model of the old monastery.

The grand Bagaya monastery. decorated with splendid Myanma architectural works. is in the ancient city of Innwa.King Bagyidaw of Innwa era built the Bagaya monastery at the confluence of the Ayeyawady and the Myitnge rivers in 1196 Myanma Era.
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The site of the monastery is about (11) miles from the Mandalay City. The grand Bagaya Monastery has a three-tiered roof and its adjacent religious lecture hall. in the eastern side of the monastery. has a seven-tiered roof. The monastery has (267) teak posts. The largest teak post is (9) feet in circumference. The post is (60) feet high. The monastery is (118) feet long and (103) feet wide. The monastery has tour brick stairs.

The entire building of the monastery is decorated with carvings. floral arabesques. the ornamentation with curved figurines and the reliefs of birds and animals as well as small pillars on the wall decorated with tunnery. the artistic works of Innwa Era. Large teak of the doors monastory are also beautifully dsigned with sculptures and reliefs.

There is a reverential statue on a throne in the Marabin or a large hall with its partition reaching from the floor to the ceiling of the monastery. The statue was sculptured with the handiwork of Innwa Era. The grand Bagaya monastery is still existing today in its original form. All the Myanmar nationals can be proud of the splendid monastery which is like an ancient arts museum.

Watch Tower (Nan Myint)

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The watch tower which is about 90 feet (30 m) high is a solitary masonry building that remains of Bagyidaw's palace built in 1822. Owing to the earthquake of 1838. only the lower part was left but it was restored as its original structure. The watch tower is one of the examples of Myanmar architectural style of early 19th century.
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