Mandalay and around
Mandalay, the last Royal Capital of Myanmar Kingdom was founded by King Mindon in 1857. King Mindon is the King who is remembered and honored by his magnificent idea to keep the Buddhist Scripture in stone slabs which remain up to day and known as world's biggest book (Ref. Greenwich World's Record). As per records, King Mindon convened 2400 monks for 6 months to deliberate and agree to get one unique Authorized Version. It took eight years to carve the marble slabs with 5000 Masonry worker. The completion work done of Row after row of white pagodas each contains a marble slabs inscribed on both side the Tripitaka (Buddhist Scriptures).
King Mindon also held the completion ceremony by reading the whole work was read aloud without a Pause.City was founded at the foot of Mandalay Hill where has the legend that Buddha visited and prophesied.
Geographically, City is surrounded and bordered by hill connecting with Shan Plateau in the east, Ayeyarwaddy River in the west, Dote Hta Waddy or Myitnge River in the South, Matayar River in the North. Mandalay has the Royal palace built with equally square shaped Moats filled with water in all seasons along the walls. The Mandalay Palace and its walls, gates, moats and bridges can be seen till today even though the whole magnificent Palace was destroyed by fire and also by bombs of Allied Troops during the World War II.
Being as the Royal Capital, Mandalay is rich in Culture heritage of ancient Myanmar Kingdoms especially in Arts & Crafts - Tapestry, Gold-leave making ( In these workshops, you will see the ancient ways challenging against modern methods and technology amazingly to make 0.001milimeter thick gold leave from 24 caret solid cubes of gold using deer leather, iron hammer, stone foot, water clock and so on, Traditional Dancing and Music instruments, Bronze Moldings and Coppersmith, Silk Weaving, Gold embroidery and Glass Mosaic.
Mandalay is still leading and also an unique place for Silk Weaving - Lun Yar Kyaw Achake ( A Classic Silk weaving in unique traditional way of design and way of weaving. Myanmar people are still so proud of wearing Lun Yar Kyaw Achaik at Ceremonies. Normally, Lun Yar Kyaw Achake is expensive and priced depending on the different shuttles they have to use during making it. Meaning of Lun Yar Kyaw is more than hundred of shuttles. It takes months to finish one piece - 2 yards of Lun Yar Kyaw. High class people used to order months in advance to get the good design and color.
Mandalay is also standing as a leading City where the country's famous Traditional Dance and Music Artist were emerged. In Religion, most Buddhist Monks reside in Mandalay as Mandalay is the heart of Religion and Culture of Myanmar. Centre of the Country make the City an important place like junction point or a hub and it connects to all parts of the country and to China and India in various ways of transportation. After more than 150 years, Mandalay remains as upper country's main gateway and also a commercial city. Mandalay is the populated city in the country and it has been filled with Migrants since the King's time. Most of the Migrants are from Yunan Province, China. Mandalay International Airport, Second Largest Airport in Myanmar has direct flight routes to China and Thailand. At Mandalay Royal Palace, you can find all the amazing Buildings such as an Old Watched Tower and Myanmar architectural wooden complex with highly ornamented and gold - gilded halls used by Myanmar Kings and also the Swimming Pool that High Ranking Royal Family used and the Glass Palace that is build and used by King Thibaw (the Last King of Kongbaung Dyanasty).
The Tomb of King Mindon founder of this Magnificent City is still existed at Mandalay Royal Palace.
Places to see
- Mandalay Hill
- Mandalay Palace
- Shwenandaw Monastery ( Golden Palace Monastery)
- Maha Muni Pagoda
- Kuthodaw Pagoda
- Kyauktawgyi Pagoda
- Buddha's Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda
- Atumashi Monastery ( The Incomparable)
- Thudamhar Zayat ( Public Houses for preaching the Doctrines)
- Sandar Muni
- Ma Ha Law Ka Marazane
- Gold Leave Making Work Shop
- Silk - Lun Yar Kyaw Achaik Weaving loon work shops
- Stone Sculpture, Marble Work, Stone Scripting, Stonemasons
- Tapestry work shop
- Gold embroidery work shops
Places Around the City :
Amarapura, Innwa ( Ava), Sagaing, Mingun, Monywa, Pyin Oo Lwin @ May Myo
Amarapura was the Capital City during Konbaung Dynasty. It was founded by King Bodawpaya in 1783. Meaning of Amarapura is Land of no death, in other word, Land of immorality. King Bodawpaya is also well- known for his dedicated four Great Nobel deeds. The City was founded when founder King Bodawpaya moved the Capital from Innwa (Ava). However, Amarapura was moved back to Innwa in 1823, during the time of King Bagyidaw ( Grandson of King Bagyidaw) and moved back to its place to Amarapura in 1837 when King Tharrawaddy - successor of King Bagyidaw and remained as Capital until King Mindon founded Mandalay. That is also the reason; Amarapura is called today Myo Haung (Old City). It is also known as Taung Myo (Southern City). Amarapura is located on the bank of Ayarwaddy (Irrawaddy) River and closer to Mandalay about 45mins to 1 hour drive. City is surrounded by waters - Taung Thaman Inn (Lake) where Boats and even ships can reach to the City Walls when the high tide of water days, Dote Htar Waddy River, Tat Thay Inn.
*** As per the records, in Myanmar Month Warkhaung of Myanmar Era 1217, the British Delegation lead by Mr. Fayer had reached near to Amarapura Royal Palace by his fully equipped ship floating through the Taung Thaman Inn. The tombs of King Bodawpaya, King Bagyidaw and King Tharrawaddy still exist. Tomb of King Bodawpaya is located at the north of Shwezaga Pagoda and King Bagyidaw's tomb can be seen at the east of Pyatthat Kyi Village where you will see tomb of King Tharrawaddy at the north of Palace site near the service staff quarter of Electrical and Mechanical Corp II.
The tomb of King Bodawpaya and King Bagyidaw are built in white washed brick mausoleums in Zedi ( Chedi) type enshrining the cremated bones of Kings. The tombs have inscriptions in English and Myanmar. The tomb of King Tharrawaddy is also in Zedi shape enshrining his bones. Amarapura is very famous for the Silk Weaving Industry producing proudly the Traditional Textile for Royal and Cultural Ceremonies. This place still remains as the main production area.
U Bein Bridge
A Longest Live Teak Bridge in the world and proudly maintains it's role with the uniqueness of A Two Centuries Old, Three Quarter of a mile long Teak Bridge crossing the Taung-tha-man Inn ( Lake) is one of the most amazing and attracting place and it is a place that you must see not to feeling regret. The name - U Bein is given after the name of the donor U Bein who was a clerk of the Mayor of Amarapura and brother in law of King Bagyidaw (brother of Queen Mae Nu). All the Teaks used for the bridges were taken from the old planks and post of dismantled houses of Innwa and Sagaing. It took two years to be finished. The bridge has been used constantly and continuously by people since it was opened in 1851. It is amazing to see the bridge has been used for over 159 years and it is still performing well. You will find at some points, where were used as drawbridges to allow the royal barges and war boats to go under the bridge to go out to the Ayeyarwaddy River in Old days when Amarapura was a King's Capital.
Innwa (formerly known as Ava) was the capital of the Myanmar kingdom for more than four hundred years. No other city in Myanmar had been the seat of government over such a long period. Founded by a Shan Prince, Thadominphya in 1364 on an island between the rivers Ayeyarwaddy and Myitnge, and destroyed by the Mon in 1752, Innwa lost its status as a royal city several times before it was finally superseded by Amarapura in 1841. Due to an earthquake in 1838, very little remains of the royal buildings. The villages that have now grown up on the site of the former capital radiate an almost idyllic rural atmosphere.
The original pronunciation of Innwa is said to be Angwa. Ava was corrupted by the Hindus and the Malays into Awa, and by the Europeans into Ava. Its official name was Ratanapura (City of Gems). Thai pronunciation of Innwa is still Ungwa as they had several military confrontations in the heydays of Konbaung dynasty.
Places to see
• Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery (ME NU OAK-KYAUNG)
• Snake Pagoda
• Bagaya Monastery
• Nanmyint watch tower
• Thabyedan Fortress
• The Old Gate, Inwa
• Watch Tower (Nan Myint)
• Innwa Bridge
• Innwa Mahar Myat Muni Pagoda
• Yadana Hsimi Pagodas
Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery
The Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, however, is relatively well preserved. More well-known as Me Nu Oak Kyaung, this monastery was commissioned by King Bagyidaw's principal wife, Me Nu, in 1818, and built of stone in traditional style, with elaborate stucco ornamentations that look like carvings. In the middle of this ochre-coloured monastery is a statue of Buddha on a plinth, decorated with glass mosaics
One of Innwa's finest attractions is the happily un-renovated Bagaya Kyaung, which dates from 1834. The entire monastery is built of teak and supported by 267 teak posts (the largest measures 18m in height and 2.7m in circumference). The cool and dark interior feels old and inviting.
The 27m-high masonry watchtower, Nanmyin, is all that remains of the palace built by Bagyidaw. The upper portion was shattered by the 1838 earthquake and the rest has taken on a precarious tilt - it is known as the 'leaning tower of Innwa'.
Just north of Inwa you can find the ruins of Thabyedan (Thapyaytan) Fortress, which was built under King Mindon between 1874 and 1878 to defend against the British during the third Anglo-Burmese War. It is near the southern bridge to Sagaing; look down the embankment before crossing the bridge, just below the police checkpoint.
Sagaing is another former capital, located across the river from Ava, and is home to a number of monasteries. Most of these monasteries date from the early 20th century, and the architecture of the buildings blend traditional Burmese and colonial styles. There’s a feeling here of another age: in the late afternoon you can see water buffalo at work dragging logs to the banks of the river, as they have done since the area was originally settled.
Places to see
• Sagaing Hill
• Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda
• U Min Thonze Pagoda
• Kaungmudaw Pagoda
• Shwe Kyat Kya Pagoda
• Shwe Kyat Yat Pagoda
• Shwe Mohtaw Pagoda
• Yadanar Zedi Sin Myar Shin Pagoda
Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda
The Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda is located on the top of the Sagaing Hill. It is one of the oldest temples on Sagaing Hill. All the pagodas in area, it receives the first of alms offering made. It was built in 1312 by Minister Pon Nya. Pagoda Festival is held on the full moon day of Waso (July).
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.
Just an hour's boat ride away from Mandalay, along the Ayeyarwady River, is the little town of Mingun. The public service boats, specially laid on for tourists, leave the Mayanchan jetty every morning. Early in the morning, in loud and strident tones, staccato prayers come rasping through loudspeakers, creating a strange though quite impressive scenario for the visitor who is keen to look behind the scenes of the tourist attractions. Even from a distance, one can see from the boat the massive ruins of the Mantara Gyi Pagoda (commonly known as Mingun Pahto), which was built by King Bodawpaya to be the biggest padoda in the world and was originally intended to reach a height of 152 meters. For precisely this purpose, between 1790 and his death in 1819, Bodawpaya had thousands of prisoners of war and slaves working on the construction of the stupa. It is said that there were too much dissatisfaction over the heavy burden of building this massive pagoda among the people and the ruling class alike and there came a tabaung (aprophesy); "as soon as the building of the pagoda was over, the country would also be gone". Thus the construction came to a halt, much relieved to the people. Only a third of Bodawpaya's dream was completed. Twenty years later, the mighty brick edifice was badly damaged in an earthquake. Nevertheless, the remains of the pagoda, 50 meters high and 72 meters wide, are still spectacular. It is possible to climb up it barefoot and from the top there is a magnificent view of the Ayeyarwady as Fas as Mandalay.
Places to see
• Mingun Bell
• Mingun Pahto
• Hsinbyume Pagoda (Myatheindan Pagoda)
Another relic of Bodaypaya's megamania is the Mingun Bell. With a height of 3.7 meters, it is said to be the largest working bell in the world. The Kremlin bell in Moscow is actually bigger but it is cracked and therefore not in use. Weighing 90 metric tons, the Mingun Bell was cast in bronze in 1808, and once it was completed Bodaypaya had the master craftsman executed in order to stop him making anything similar.
Hsinbyume Pagoda (Myatheindan Pagoda)
On the northern edge of Mingun stands the impressive Hsinbyume Pagoda (Myatheindan Pagoda), built by King Bagyidaw - a grandson of Bodaypaya - in 1816, in memory of his favorite wife. Its unusual architecture is quite striking. It is based on the Sulamani Pagoda on the peak of the mythical golden mountain of Meru, which is the center of the universe in Buddhist-Hindu cosmology. Seven terraces with with undulating rails - representing the seven mountain ranges around Mount Meru - lead up the stupa, and all the way along are niches in which mythical monsters such as Nats, orgres and Nagas (mythical serpents) stand guard.