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What to see? | Around Mandalay






The name “Mandalay” derived from Man-da-lar, means the centre of the Universe. The old name is Ya-da-nar-pu-ra, means “city of gems”. Mandalay is the last Royal city of Burmese king (1752-1885) and the second largest city in Myanmar with the population of about 1.3 millions.

It is the centre of the Myanmar culture, arts and crafts, Myanmar literature, music, dance, the core of the Buddhist learning as well as important trade centre in Myanmar, well known for the presence of significant monasteries, pagodas, temples, religious edifies and also for Mandalay palace. Mandalay still remains its old cultural traditions and it is home for the Myanmar handicrafts. It has been called “bicycle city” as bicycles are mainly used for transportation purposes; to their work or to their school, etc. Nowadays we should name it again “Motorcycle city” as so many motorbikes in the streets.

There is a variety of interesting things in Mandalay and ancient cities around, Amarapura, Iva and Sagaing. The travellers can enjoy the short boat trip along the Ayeyarwaddy to Mingun where the enormous Pagoda and the 3rd biggest bell in the world built.

Sight-seeing in Mandalay and Around

Maha Muni pagoda
Maha Muni is the most venerated pagoda in Mandalay and the followers of the Buddha pay homage to the statue as lively Buddha. Face-washing ceremony starts at 4:30 am every morning. It was cast of bronze mixed with the jewellery according to the history and is heavily gilded by gold increasing day by day. It is estimated more than one ton of gold. The golden crown and king’s uniform are studded with the several precious stones, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, jades, etc. donated by pious Buddhists.
Why Buddha in King’s uniform? It is a Rakhine tradition, the king’s uniform are offered first to Buddha to enthrone. This Buddha images is brought from Rakhine, western Myanmar.
One can find the six bronze figures, originally from Angkor Wat in Cambodia, in the pagoda area. It is worth to visit there while seeing the local Mandalay regional pilgrims.

Mya Nan San Kyaw Royal Palace
It was built by King Mindom in 1859. The original magnificent palace was completely burnt down on 20 March, 1945, fighting between British and occupying Japanese forces. It has been newly reconstructed in 1996 according to its original design. The original buildings of the palace are highly ornamented and gilded. We can only see one of the original complexes outside the palace as Shwe Nandaw monastery and palace wall, 8 metres high and 3.2 km long each side. The moat is 66 meters wide and 3.7 m deep.

Shwe-nan-daw Monastery:
The significant teak wooden monastery was once part of the Mandalay palace where the second last Burmese king was passed away and it was gilded inside and outside. His successor, the last king, Thibaw believed that the building was to be haunted by his father, king Mindom and moved it outside the palace. Later it became his meditation place and later donated it to the monk. That’s why it is called as monastery.
The monastery is splendid decorated with artistic woodcarving both inside and outside with carved panels. Outside walls are also more carved panels and there are facings between the tiered receding roofs. The whole array of the figures is interwoven into intricate and picturesque tapestry by floral arabesque. You must be stunned by the beauty of its magnificent wood carvings.

Ku-tho-daw Pagoda:
One of the importance sites in Mandalay is Kuthodaw pagoda, known as the world’s biggest book. The complex was built by king Mindom in 1857. As a first time, the Buddhist scripture was recorded on the 729 mable slabs. The scripture were previously recorded only on the palm leaf. If the mable slaps are piled up, it will reach the high of 8th storey building and if one read out loud the scriptures 8 hour without pause, it takes 220 days. That’s why it is called the world’s biggest book.

Mandalay hill: 270m high Mandalay hill is the best place to see the panoramic view of Mandalay and to enjoy the sunset while visiting the glass mosaic Pagoda on the top. It is landmark of the Mandalay.

The other sites are:
Gold-leaf workshops: Making gold leaf is one of the importance tradition works and gold leafs are mainly to donate for religious purpose. Donation the best things or beloved things is a part of the Buddhists life.

Stone sculpture: It is one of the traditional Myanmar crafts, mainly the mable stones are carved into Buddha statues.

Shwe Kyin Monastery: A nice place to visit after the sunset to see the monks paying homage to Buddha every night like the other monasteries in Myanmar.

Shwe Inbin Monastery: This elegant wooden monastery was donated by the two Chinese merchants in 1815. It is exceedingly ornamented with elaborate wood carving and wood work along the balustrades.

Kyauk Taw Gyi pagoda: The huge seated mable Buddha image inside the temple is carved from one single block of mable stone. It is donated by the second last Burmese king Mindom.

Sanda Muni Pagoda: The magnificent view from that pagoda and photo point where the Iron Buddha Image is placed.

Ancient cities around Mandalay

The name Amarapura is Sanckrit word, Amara means “deathless”, Pura means city, “Deathless city”. It has been a royal city twice and now the old city stands in ruins. It is 11 km and 45 minutes drive from south of Mandalay. Many old pagodas are dotted around the city.

U Bein Bridge and Taung-tha-man Lake:
1.2 km long bridge over the Taung-tha-man Lake, Amarapura, was build by U Bein, who was said to be the Mayor of the town, in 1849. During the summer the lake is dry up and the ground is used for the agriculture and in the rainy season, the lake is filled water by the river connected. It is very popular place for the holiday makers and one can enjoy the boat-ride and beautiful sunset in the evening.

Maha Gan-da-yon Kyaung:
The monastery is famous for its district disciplines and training for the young monks in the study of Buddhist teaching. It has been founded since 1914. Over 1000 monks are studying and living in this monastery and it is a worth visit to learn how the monks life and their daily activities are.

Silk weaving:
One can visit the silk-weaving factory in Amarapura after strolling around the city. It is the tradition hand works, adapted from Thailand.

Ava (Inwa)
It was founded by the King Tha-do-min-bya in 1364 and remained the longest capital of Shan dynasty until 1783. It is now just a village and the crumbling temples dotted around, the suffering city wall, such things make you in melancholy while passing by in a horse cart. It is an unforgettable trip.

Visit by horse cart: Mel Nu brick monastery; built in 1818,Lay-htet-gyi pagoda, 14 century pagoda in square shape, Win-ga-bar Pagoda; built in the 14 century, Old Watchtower; the only remains of the palace; Ba-ga-yar monastery; supported by 267 teak posts.

Sagaing is founded in 1315 and located on the western bank of the Ayeyarwaddy after passing the Sagaing Bridge; built by British in 1934. The city is rather quiet, cool and sedate. It is profusely dotted manifold Buddhist monasteries, nunneries and institutions.
Visit Sagaing Hill; Landmark of the city to see the wonderful panoramic view of the region, one of the nunneries to observe the Buddhist nun life, Umin Thon-seh, silver-smith and 46 m high Sri Lanka style Kaung Hmu Taw Pagoda if you have enough time to visit.

A short boat ride to Mingun from Mandalay is such an amusing by exploring the Ayeyarwaddy River, relaxing and breathing fresh air on a private boat, watching the fisher men, working farmers on the sandbank, the old local boat passing by and it fulfils the photographer’s desire. One can enjoy the sunset from the boat on the way back to your hotel.

Visit unfinished Pah-toe-taw-gyi, built in 1790, the gigantic Mingun Bell and Mya-thein-tan Zedi, built by King Ba-gyi-daw in 1816, in memory of his senior wife, with beautifully decorated terrace and stairway.


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