Mandalay was the last capital of the Konboung Dynasty or the Third Myanmar Empire. It is located 668 km north from Yangon. It is the heart land of Myanmar. The largest city after Yangon, it is a bustling commercial centre and a repository of ancient Myanmar culture. The restored old Royal Palace boasts finely built palace walls and a beautiful moat surrounding the palacecum-fortress. Mandalay is a showcase for Myanmar arts and architecture. It is also renowned for stone carvings, wood carrvings, tapestries silkwear, silverware, bronze casting and other traditional arts and crafts. Mandalay is also the principal centre for studies of Buddhistic literature and its monasteries and pagodas hold deep religious significance in Myanmar.
King Mindon built his Royal Palace on the model of Brahmin Buddhist cosmology to represent the center of the world, Mount Meru. The palace formed a perfect square, with the outer walls facing the four cardinal directions and the 12 gates three on each side marked with the signs of the zodiac. In the exact 10 Taw Win Travel centre of the palace was the throne room called the “Lion Room” surrounded by other throne rooms. The palaces were built of teak, lacquered, gilded, in some instances such as the Glass Palace, entirely covered with mosaic of coloured glass. A reconstructed version of the palaces can be found in the 2000 acres of the palace ground/ Also there is a museum containing a collection of Mandalay regalia.
At the southeastern base of Mandalay Hill is Kuthodaw Pagoda. At the center of the temple is the 100 foot high golden Maha Lawka Marazein Pagoda. But the most interesting feature of the temple is the 729 smaller pagodas that surround the central shrine.Called pitaka pagodas, each one houses a marble tablet inscribed with a ‘page’ of text from the Buddhist holy book, called the Tipitaka. This first complete version of the Tipitaka was assembled by a team of 2,400 monks during the Fifth Buddhist Synod in 1872. Buddhist scholars then inscribed the text onto the tablets. Originally, the letters were highlighted in gold.
Kyauktawgyi meaning the Great Marble Buddha Image in Myanmar.The Kyauktawgyi Pagoda was built by King Mindon in 1853 on the model of the Ananda Temple at Pagan. It closely resembles the Ananda in exterior form but it falls short of the latter in construction and interior decoration. The pagoda was completed during 1878.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 great stone was taken from Sagyin quarry about twelve miles north of Mandalay city. It was known to have taken about 12,000 men to carry the stone from Sagyin along the Ayeyarwaddy river and to the place where the stone was carved out into the Buddha Image.
Mandalay’s most fabled pagoda is the Mahamuni Pagoda built in 1784 by King Bodawpaya to house the Mahamuni Image. But is was destroyed by fire in 1884. The highly venerated Mahamuni Image was transported by elephant from Rakhine in 1784. The image is about 38 metres (12 feet 7 inches) high. The seated image is cast in bronze. In a separate building to the north of the main pagoda are six bronze Khmer statues. There are lions. Two are male warriors and one is Erawan, the three-headed elephant. Originally these figures stood sentry at Angkor at in Cambodia, then were taken from Angkor by the This in 1431. King Bayinaung of Bago had taken them from the Siamese capital of Ayuthia in 1564. In 1663 King Razagyi from Rakhine removed these very same statues from Bago. These Khmer figures were brought back from Rakhine along with the Mahamuni Buddha image. Devout Buddhists have completely covered the Mahamuni statue in a thick layer of goldleaf.
Mandalay Hill after a pleasant climb, this hill, topped with a temple style pagoda of mirrored hallways offers a fantastic view all over the city and the central plain. Enjoy the great scenery. (1h) (driving up halfway, missing no important sights, cuts the walk to only 20 minutes). Mandalay Hill is a must and can be visited at any time of the day, but enjoying the sunset from the Pagoda on top of the hill is always a nice ending to a hot day. Just outside the North of downtown, Mandalay Hill which summit is 230 m above the surrounding plain is the natural watch-tower for the visitors to watch sunrise or sunset over the city plains. At the bottom in front of the southwest entrance are the two immense statue of Lions guard the holy hill.
Beside the Shwe Nandaw Kyaung is the reconstructed monastery known as ‘Incomparable Taw Win Travel 11 Monastery,’ Atumashi Kyaung, completed in 1878. It was the last great religious edifice construced by King Mindon. In 1890 the monastery caught fire and, together with its contents which included four complete sets of the Tripitaka in teak boxes was completely gutted. A famous Buddha image, with an enormous diamond set in its forehead, was the pride of the Kyaung, but it was stolen during the British takeover of Mandalay in 1885. This Kyaung was once described by European visitors as one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Mandalay.
Located at the southwest of Mandalay Hill, this complex of cluster whitewashed Stupas was built over the site of King Mindon’s temporary palace. In addition, this is the spot where the King’s younger brother, Prince Kanaung had been assassinated, and to commemorate this sad event, this Stupa was built. Around the main Stupa, you can see a large collection of marble slabs inscribed with commentaries on the Buddhist scriptures.
The only palace building to survive World War II intact is the Shwenandaw Kyaung. At one time this building was part of the palace complex and was used as an apartment by King Mindon and his chief queen. It was in this building that he died. King Thibaw, his successor, dismantled it after his father’s death and re-erected it on its present site. Today the Shwe Nandaw is most famous for its intricate wood carving. Each massive pillar is a single trunk of teak still showing remnants of vermillion, lacquer, gold and filigree decoration. At one time the building was gilded and decorated with glass mosaics. The carved panels inside are still in excellent condition, particularly the ten jataka scenes taken from the Buddha’s life.
“Zay-Cho market” is well-known for its’ cheaper-price as well as the nuiance of the dealers, the new Zay-Cho market is composed of 8 buildings in rows, all are 4 storey-buildings, except of B complex since, its’ basis is a six-storey-building. In the larger town areas, you can usually get good bargains at public market places known as zei or zay, in Burmese. Another known as zeigyo (also spelt zei-gyo or zay-cho) is the main central market. It is natural that other markets will be named after the district or township where they are located. For those who are interested in handicrafts, head on down to the Zeygyo Market in Mandalay. The arrays of goods for sale are huge and cheap.
Tapestry, one of Myanmar arts and crafts is mainly originated in Mandalay and famous souvenir. Myanmar tapestries involve an intricate weaving of colored threads with appliquEwork and lavish embellishment with gilded materials and semi precious gems to yield a picture. The art of Myanmar tapestry work is believed to have its beginnings during the time of King Alaungpaya in the 18th Century. At that time it was very roughly done, and some historians believe that better workmanship was introduced during his son’s reign when Thai prisoners of war were brought to the new capital of Ava. The velvet panel is first backed with a sheet of rough cotton cloth to reinforce it, so that it can bear the weight of the embellishments without buckling in the heavier places. On this background, figures of human or animals are appliquéd on with metallic sequins. Cotton wools are stuffed under the appliqués s that the figures stood out in relief. The final touches come from carefully arranged coloured and mirrored-glass that have been cut or moulded to look like gem cabochons. The tapestry is widely use as embellishments like wall-hangings, Marionettes, traditional Myanmar costumes for dance performers, Royal dresses which are to be used in special occasions such as Noviatiation Ceremony. Now a day tapestry hat & shoulder bags are specially made for souvenir.
In Myanmar, gold-leaves are widely sold at the famous pagodas to gild the Buddha image or stupa with gold-leaf. This is the Myanmar tradition for meritorious deeds. These gold-leaves are originally made in Mandalay. Mandalay’s gold-leaf makers are concentrated in the south-east of the city, near the intersection of 36th and 78th Sts. Sheets of gold are beaten into gossamer-thin pieces which are cut into squares and sold in packets to devotees to use for gilding images or even complete stupas. The typical gold-leaf square measures just 0.000127 cm, thinner than ink on the printed page. Gilding a Buddha image or a stupa with gold leaf brings great credit to the gilder, so there is a steady growth of gold leaf on many images in Myanmar.
Silk weaving is a real traditional Myanmar Art. It can be widely seen in Amarapura, the ancient city 12 km south of Mandalay. Silk weaving can also be seen in Inn-Paw-Kon village on the Inle Lake. Weaving technique and designs are quite different from that in Amarapura. In the era of the Kings, silk clothing was only used among royal family. Nowadays most of Myanmar especially women love to wear silk clothing in ceremonies and occasions. Visitors either men or women love to buy beautiful silk scarves and other clothing materials. You can see the local handlooms and buy at reasonable prices lovely silk material with traditional Myanmar patterns and designs.
Wood-carving has been a particular forte of the Myanmar since early history . Here one can study all sorts of typical Myanmar patterns and designs carved on wood either embossed, engraved or bas-reliefs. Since Myanmar produce good quality teak wood, lavish embellishment with wood-carvings can be seen at the religious buildings and hotels. Wood-carving furniture and other decorative materials are widely used in Myanmar. Myanmar wood carving workshops are situating in Tam-pa-wadi quarter, south of Mandalay.
Sagaing became a capital of an independent Shan kindom aroud 1315 AD. after the fall of Bagan. Its period of importance was short, for in 1364 the founder’s grandson, Thado Minbya, moved his capital across the river to Inwa. From 1760 to 1764, Sagaing was once again the capital. An ancient city of Sagaing is situated on the west bank of Ayeyarwaddy River and 21 kilometres southwest (50 minutes drive) from Mandalay. Sagaing Hills, a cluster of low-lying hills, are best known as a religious retreat and a center of Buddhist studies and meditation. Myanmars all over the country would visit Sagaing for the purpose of religious retreat.
The Sagaing Hills are dotted with pagodas. And for some 6000 monks and nuns, there are over 500 monasteries and nunneries on a green hillside overlooking the Ayeyarwady River. The Padamyazedi dates from 1300 while the U min Thonze or thirty caves pagoda has many Buddha images in a crescent shaped colonnade. Mural paintings can be seen in the Tilawkaguru cave temple, which was built around 1672. At the nearby village of Ywahtaung you can see silver workers producing bowls and other silver items by traditional methods. The most impressive Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda nearby was constructed in 1312. The view of Sagaing from Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin and its approach is marvelous.
About 10 kilometres from Sagaing is the Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, an enormous dome-shaped pagoda built by King Thalun in 1636. The enormous dome, whose name means “work of great merit”, rises 46 meters in the shape of a perfect hemisphere and was modeled after the Mahaceti (Great Stupa) in Sri Lanka. Around the base of the pagoda are 812 stone pillars, each one is 1.5 meters high and with a small hollow for an oil lamp. This huge pagoda is 10 km beyond the town of Sagaing. The enormous dome rises 46 m (151 feet) in the shape of a perfect hemisphere and was modeled after the Mahaceti Pagoda in Ceylon. Also known as Rajamanisula, the pagoda was built to commemorate Inwa’s establishment as the royal capital of Myanmar. Around the base of the pagoda are stone pillars, each of which is 1.5 m high. The details of the pagoda’s construction are recorded on them.
It is located 21km from Mandalay. 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. Inwa was formerly 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.
This is a brick-and-stucco monastery built by the Chief Queen of King Bagyidaw for her royal abbot (Nyaung Gan Sayadaw) in 1818. Monasteries were normally built of wood and were prone to deterioration from the elements or destruction by fire. Although this monastery was built in imitation of the traditional wooden style, its masonry construction has ensured its survival. The 1838 earthquake badly damaged it, but in 1873 it was restored.
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.
The big incomplete temple built by King Bodawphaya in late 1790. It took 15 years to build and the king died before completed it. Instead of 530ft in height is at present is only 162ft high. From the upper terrace of the building can see the yawning cracks cutting deep down into the solid base. It was the damages caused by many earthquakes in 1838. Two mythical lions in front of the building are at the height of 95ft and the eyes were 9ft in width. The huge remnants of the Pagoda and mythical lions still testify the archaeological skills of the Amarapura period.
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.
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.
Amarapura (literally meaning ‘the immortal city’) lies about 11 km south of Mandalay. The modern town of AMARAPURA is often referred to as TAUNG MYO, meaning “The Southern City” to distinguish it from MANDALAY, the Northern City. The famous U Pein Bridge, built with teak posts spans Taungthaman Lake. It measures 1208 meters and probably is the longest bridge of its kind in South East Asia. Other places of interest include Pahtodawgyi Pagoda, Kyauktawgyi Pagoda and Mahagandayon Monastery.
The bridge that crosses the Taung-tha-man Lake is the longest teak bridge in the world (1.2 km). Although a bit rickety in some parts, it has withstood the storms and floods of over one and half centuries, and is very popular with tourists. Of particular interest is the 1.2 km long U Bein Bridge, solid teak wood planks and supports have stood for more than two centuries.
Pyin Oo Lwin is situated in the cool mountains and is roughly an hour and a half drive from Mandalay (69km). It was used as a summer retreat for the British during the colonial period. Please note that it is sometimes referred to as its old name: Maymyo. It is well known for its majestic style houses, pine trees, eucalyptus and silver-oak – enjoyable the whole year round. The old stagecoaches are still operating as local taxi service. There are plenty to see, such as the wonderful Botanical Garden, Pwe Kauk Waterfall, the busy market and the newly built Pye Lone Chan Tha Pagoda, which houses a mysterious Buddha image. Why not taking a train one early morning which takes a winding circuitous uproute through the hills at sunrise!
The Botanical Garden was first founded in the year 1915-16 by one British botanist named Mr. Roger who began collecting local plants and trees and cultivating them on 30 acres of land at the present site. It was only in 1919 that the Government gave official sanction to it. The original area of the Botanical Garden was 170 acres of land and 70 acres of water totaling 240 acres. With a constant supply of sufficient spring water from the great lake nearby, the plan of the Garden was laid out on the design of Kew Gardens in England. In 1920 the Forest Department issued a notification No. 207 which declared the Botanical Garden as a forest reserve and placed it under the custody of the Department. In several plots were planted 4840 trees mostly pine varieties, 575 different floral species and many exotic fruit, flower and shade trees from abroad that were acclimatized to grow in the Garden. Besides, vast meadows and several seasonal flower beds were arranged and hundreds of wild orchids from different parts of the country were collected and displayed in the Orchid Green House in the garden. The garden thus became one of the world class botanical gardens.
Pwe-kauk or B.E water-fall is the oldest one and the closet fall from Pyin-Oo-Lwin. The nature was such beautiful scenery and the environs were so tranquil in imaginative phenomenon covered with beautiful wild-flowers, cultivated plantations and gardens in fantastic beauty. Pwe Kauk Fall is about 8km from town. It is also called Hampshire Falls in British times. It’s a very pleasant picnic spot.
The cave is near Wetwun village 12 miles east of the town and it is three miles south of the village, easily accessible by car. The cave is at the entrance to the Peik Chin Myaung ravine, with many beautiful springs. When the rocks in the cave began to form, the place was under seawater. As lime piled up, the hillock took formation. Geologists estimate that it could be between 230 million and 310 million years old. The cave is called Peik Chin Myaung (Peik Chin Plants Ravine) as plenty of Peik Chin plants used to grow there, letting no light inside. This Great Cave of rock was formed out of a fault. As water seeped and dropped from rocks and limestone, there appeared stalactites and others in the shape of chandeliers. On entering the cave you see springs flowing from different directions. The water at some places is as deep as five feet. Water seeps from the walls of the rock; and is clean and cool. It is said that this water cures eye ailments and itching. So, pilgrims take this spring water home in bottles. The Great Cave covers an area about 48 acres. Once inside the cave, you shiver with cold what with the springs and small waterfalls. The Buddha-to-be’s life story up to His Enlightenment is featured at appropriate places. There are also Buddha images and pagodas in corners and niches.
This pagoda was not planned, but just came to be. The reason for this is that 3 marble Buddha figures made in Mandalay were being transported to their planned home in China. On this journey one of the Buddha figures fell from the lorry and could not be reloaded due to its weight. After many attempts it was left behind and the other 2 were taken on their way. The Buddha image left behind, needed to be moved, but no one knew how to go about this task. A local Buddhist monk decided he would try faith. He sat for 7 days on this figure and preached to the locals and recited teachings of Buddha. After 7 days the figure was, apparently, easily lifted and placed in its current location and the local people built a pagoda as an offering to Buddha.
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.
It has 500000 Buddha Images.A pagoda complex in Monywa,an upper Myanmar town 136km northwest of Mandalay, rises like a fairy tale temple from the dusty land.The main stupa is surrounded by 845 smaller ones, all of them richy decorated in glass, relief work and a myriad of colors. The compound in this pagoda contains a large square pool where fish and turtles are allowed to live free from harm,as is usual with most famous pagodas, are called Laik-kan or Turtle Ponds.One pagoda with a tower is called the Arlain Nga Sint,or the Five Stages Spiral Tower.
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.
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 Monwya 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. Over a thousand of marble or plasters Buddha-images are resting under their Bo trees in a spacious compound. A large reclining Buddha-image on the mountain-slope and tower of toddy palm trunk will also be enjoyed.
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 fossilized 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.
Located about 200 Km north of Mandalay. Mogok is the world famous for her ruby and known as “Land of Gems”. The town is flourished with the booming of gem trade. This place was regarded as off-limit to foreign travelers in 2001 January.