Mandalay & its environs

It is the second largest city of Myanmar, which is now as the culture centre since it was the last capital of Myanmar Kingdom. Historically it is the most typical of the country’s large cities, a place where it comes close to the heart of Myanmar. With the population of 700, 000 & Mandalay is a trading centre due to its centrally location.

The last capital of the Myanmar kingdom, Mandalay not only offers wonderful sights to behold, but also has a number of nearby attractions, most historical and fascinating, all within a 3.2 kilometers radius - from cool hill resorts to nostalgic market places, from an ancient palace to a river ride up the famous "Road to Mandalay", the Ayeyarwady River, or a ride in unique trishaws or horse-drawn carts.

The most famous is Mahamuni Buddha Image, which is gilded with about one ton of gold and some other precious stones, such as rubies, jades, sapphires, diamonds, pearls, emeralds, etc.

Mandalay Palace, this was King Mindon’s centre of glory- a truly magnificent palace complex. However, it was tragically destroyed by allied bombing during World War Two. An exact replica of the old palace is now being built inside the walls. The finely built palace walls, surrounded by a moat, a delight for artists, architects, painters and photographers, is a sight to behold.

Mandalay Hill

Mandalay Hill, 230 meters in elevation, commands a magnificent view of the city and surrounding countryside. The legend has it that the Buddha, on his visit had made a prophecy that a great city would be founded at the foot of this hill. The Golden Palace Monastery (Shwenandaw) is great interest not only as a fine example of a traditional Myanmar wooden monastery, but as a fragile reminder of the old Mandalay Fort. The building is covered inside and out with carved panels. Kuthodaw pagoda was built by King Mindon in 1857. Within its premises may be found what is popularly known as "The World’s Largest Book" - the complete Buddhist Scriptures inscribed on 729 upright stone slabs as slabs sculptured the teaching of the Buddha as a commemoration 2400th anniversary of Buddhism & also known as the world’s largest book,

Mingun

Situated 11 km from Mandalay of the upstream of the Ayeyarwaddy River to Mingun promises a pleasant adventure (one hour by boat). One can view the life of the Ayeyarwaddy River and its tranquility during the excursion. At the end of this picturesque trip, you will come face to face with the colossal ruined base of the Mingun pagoda- an unfinished work of King Bodawpaya, which if it had been completed, would have supported the largest pagoda in the world. Another principal sight is the "World’s Biggest Ringing Bell" - The Mingun Bell & Mya Theindan - unusual shape Pagodas are interesting places of this excursion.

Amarapura

An ancient capital of the Myanmar Monarchy, 11 kilometers south of Mandalay. It is now a small town famous for its silk weaving looms that produce various designs and beautiful patterns. and also Mahagandayon Monastery, is where we can observe the life of the monks how they live and how they study.

The authentic U Bein Bridge, which is made of teak wood has been a place to contemplate the picturesque sunset.

 

Sagaing

After the fall of Bagan, Sagaing became the capital but only for a very short. Today it is mostly known as the religious centre that supports dozens of Buddhist monasteries and nunneries as well as a major monastic hospital around sacred Sagaing Hill including Son U Ponnyashin Pagoda & U min Thonezae caves Temple. Silversmiths nearby Ywahtaung village are renowned for their engraving skills and rattan products are also worth seeing. Kaungmudaw Pagoda with its enormous dome in the shape of a perfect hemisphere and was modeled after the Great Stupa in Sri Lanka.

Ava( Inwa)

The classical name by which Ava is known in Myanmar, is Ratnapura, the city of gems. From 1364 Ava was the capital of Myanmar Kingdom for nearly 400 years until relocated to Amarapura in 1841. Although there is not a great deal to be seen within the city, the massive old city walls are still easily traced. A number of small villages have sprung up inside the city walls and peasants till the soil where once the palace used to stand.

The 27-metre-high masonry watch tower, of which upper portion was shattered by the 1838 earthquake, Maenu Okkyaung Monastery, was built in imitation of the traditional wooden style. Its masonry construction has ensured its survival. Bargayar Monastery is a wooden monastery which consists of 267 teak pillars. All these are places to visit by horse carts. The quiet and peacefulness, the different landscapes and the ruins of the ancient temples are the gifts of nature of Ava.

Monywa

Monywa is a city in central Myanmar and situated on the eastern bank of the Chindwin Rive. It lies 136 km north-west of Mandalay. Monywa serves as a major trade center for agricultural produce for India and Burma through Kalay Myo road and Chindwin river. In addition to 600 warehouses, Monywa supports mills for the production of cotton, flour, noodles and edible oil. The main attraction is without doubt spectacular Thanbode Temple with over 5 hundred thousands Buddha Images. Thanboddhay is the only pagoda with this unique shape in the whole country & it is similar in architectural design of Borobodur.

Moreover, the Boditahtaung Temple with 10000 Bodi trees are also worth visiting. It is a pleasant. peaceful place. filled with the song of birds. in a protected environment where nature and men are in perfect harmony. The largest reclining Buddha image in the world "Shwe Tharlyaung" with measuring 300 ft in length is even bigger than the colossal Shwethalyaung reclining Buddha image in Bago (Pegu) which has a length of 180 ft only.

Powintaung Hill

The hill have probably been occupied since the dawn of human habitation in Myanmar ( to the southwest lies the Pontaung Ponnya mountain range, where the fossilized remains of Pontaung Man, who 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 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. Just beyond Powintaung Caves is Shweba Hills, the unique pavilions from the surrounding sandstone and filled with Buddha images.

Pyin Oo Lwin ( Maymyo)

It is a popular gateway town, just 66 km east of Mandalay, reached by car or by train and over a scenic, narrow winding road climbing up the slops of the fertile Shan Plateau. At 1040 meters above the sea level, Pyin Oo Lwin is pleasantly cool and a relief from the heart of the plains. The town of Pyin U Lwin is distinctly different from much of Myanmar. A step away from the ancient temples and shining Stupas in many of the surrounding towns and cities. Pyin U Lwin was formerly known as Maymyo during the time when many British governors lived here.

Surrounded by low hills within an area of approximately 30sq.km, the area is dotted with pine trees; eucalyptus and silver oak coffee, vegetables and strawberries are grown on the slopes of the hills. Sweater-knitting is the biggest occupation in town.

There are many interesting ways to get around the town, and one of the most pleasant is by stately Victorian horse drawn carriage known as a gharry. For the ultimate luxurious feel, take a gharry to the National Kandawgyi Gardens for a stroll in the shade and breathe in the fresh, pine scented air. Established in 1915 by Alex Rodger, the gardens are a great place to explore the area’s flora and fauna, while the pond with its central Stupa makes an excellent photograph.

Hsipaw

It was once the centre of a small Shan state of its own, situated on the road and Rai routes between Mandalay and Lashio (the capital of northern Shan State), the main Myanmar-China trade route. The Shan Palace still stands and the large market is best in the morning when Shan and other tribal people from nearby villages come to trade. The Dokhtawaddy River is cool and clear, landmark of the town. The Mahamyatmuni Temple, which contains a large Buddha image inspired by its Mandalay namesake & the Bawgyo Temple, which was built interesting architecturally Shan-style. Only the guesthouses and simple local restaurants are available, as it is a remote area and not so many foreign visitors going there.

Gokhteik Viaduct

When, on behalf of the British, the Pennsylvania Steel Co built the Gokhteik Bridge over the deep gorge a hundred years ago, it was the second highest railway bridge in the world. It was finally renovated recently. Its age shows; even the trains slow to crawl when crossing the viaduct to lessen undue stress on the structure. It is one of the excited experiences.
 

 

Lashio

It is in a mountain at 855 meters-clouds may form and deliver rain just about any time of the year. It is the place with the population of nearly 150, 000. As it is the capital of northern Shan State and second capital of the whole state, it serves as Myanmar-China border trade center. Mansu Pagoda stands on a hill, is said to be over 250 years old. More impressive is Sasana 2500 years Pagoda, reportedly built by the last Shan Chief in the area. Quan Yin San Temple, built around 40 years ago, is the main Chinese Temple in Lashio. The central market and Lashio Hot Spring are also interesting to visit. The best ones available for accommodation are 3* and we have not much choice. The Chinese, Myanmar and Shan foods can be obtained at simple local restaurants.