Mawlamyine and around
Mawlamyine is the fourth largest city in Myanmar situated 180 kilometers east of the nation's capital across the Gulf of Mottama at the mouth of the Thanlwin River. It is the capital of Mon State with a population of about 400,000 people. Formerly known as Moulmein, it was once a major port and the administrative capital of British Lower Burma. The town's signature landmark is Kyaikthanlan pagoda built in 875 AD and thought to be the site from where Rudyard Kipling wrote his famous poem, 'The Road to Mandalay'.The Thanlwin Bridge, the longest road and Rail Bridge in Myanmar is the most prominent landmark in the area. It stretches a distance of 11,000 feet over the Thanlwin River connecting the country's south eastern region with Yangon.
Mawlamyine is generally considered to be off the main tourist trail for most travelers to Myanmar but the town does have a charm of its own with its rich history, buildings with colonial style architecture, World War II era wooden buses, and its close proximity to the infamous Siam-Burma "death railway", making it a fascinating place to visit!
Places of Interest
• Golden Rock – Kyaiktiyo
• Nwa La Bo Pagoda
• Kyaikthanlan Phayar (Pagoda)
• Scenic Lookout
• Mon Cultural Museum
• Win Sein Taw Ya
• Death Railway Museum (Thanbyuzayat)
• Kyauktalon Taung
• Zeigyi Market
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda, also known as the Golden Rock Pagoda, is located on top of Kyaikhtiyo Hill at about 3,600 Feet (1,100 meters) above sea level in Mon State. The distance from Yangon via Bago is approximately 130 miles (210 km). The Pagoda was built over a hair relic, more than 2,500 years ago, in the life time of Buddha. Legend has it that the hair relic was given to a hermit by Buddha himself. The hermit treasured the sacred hair in his hair knot until he found a boulder resembling his own head on which he could build a Pagoda to enshrine it.
Pilgrims used to trek 12 km up Mt Kyaikhtiyo from a base camp at Kinmon which consists largely of guesthouses, places to eat and souvenir shops.
But in 1999 a paved mountain road linking the base camp and Ya-the-taung camp (now bus station) on the hill was built, thus leaving only 1.2 km hike to the Golden Rock. Most of the tourists coming to Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda use network of many kilometers of foot trails to go other parts of the mountains where there are other smaller lately built temples and pagodas, and many good vintage locations for photographing.
Nwa La Bo Pagoda -Nwa La Bo Pagoda is precariously positioned atop three boulders. It's found on a mountain of the same name in Poun Township, near Mawlamyine in Mon State.
For obvious reasons, Nwa La Bo is often compared to Kyaiktiyo, the popular “balancing” Golden Rock Pagoda to the north. Nwa La Bo is believed to have been created about the same time as Kyaiktiyo. While just as impressive, Nwa La Bo receives fewer visitors. Legend has it that beneath the second rock there is a single strand of the Buddha’s hair.
Win Sein Taw Ya -The largest reclining Buddha image in the world, Win Sein Taw Ya, is situated about 20 km south of Mawlamyine on the main road to Mudon. It can be clearly seen for miles as you leave Mudon for Mawlamyine on the right side of the road in amongst the hills almost directly opposite the hill top Buddhist shrine of Kyauktalon Taung. The reclining Buddha is 180 meters in length, and 30 meters in height. Inside there are numerous rooms with dioramas of the teachings of Buddhism, similar to Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Gardens) of Singapore. There is also a Buddhist shrine in one of the rooms, and being a place of worship, you should remove your shoes or slippers before entering the premises.
Thanbyuzayat was the end of the line for the infamous Burma-Siam railway Linking Thailand with Myanmar during the Japanese occupation in World War II. It was known as the Death Railway due to the many prisoners of war who died constructing the 415 km long line for the Japanese Imperial Army. The line started from Nong Pladuk in Thailand, over the Mae Klong river (which was later renamed River Kwai in 1960) 5 km north of Kanchanaburi, through Payathounzu (Three Pagoda Pass) on the Thailand-Myanmar border and then headed northwest to Thanbyuzayat over rough and rugged terrain. Only 112 km of line ran within the boundaries of Burma.
An estimated 100,000 people died constructing the railway, including Australian, Dutch, American and British prisoners of war, as well as labourers from Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.
A Death Railway Museum has been established about a kilometre from Thanbyuzayat's main town center. The museum contains amongst other things, a piece of track from the original death railway line that was found by the former Australian Ambassador to Myanmar, Mr Trevor Wilson. Unfortunately, the main building of the museum is often locked and entry into the building will require prior permission from the Thanbyuzayat's town administrator. In the grounds of the museum, however, a memorial has been established complete with train track, a plaque and one of the original locomotives donated by the Japanese authorities from a museum in Yokohama.
Getting there: Thanbyuzayat is 60 kilometers south of Mawlamyine on the way to Setse and Kyaikkami.