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MANDALAY

It is the second capital 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 about one million, Mandalay is a trading centre due to its’ centrally location.

The most famous is Mahamuni Buddha Image, which was transported to Mandalay from Mrauk U in 1784. it was believed to be of great age even at that time – it may have been cast during the 1st century AD. 4 meter high seated image is cast in bronze , but over the years thousands of devout Buddhists have completed covered the figure in 15cm thick layer of gold and some other precious stones, such as rubies, jades, sapphires, diamonds, pearls, emeralds, etc. 

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. At one time, this building was part of the palace complex and was used as an apartment by King Mindon and his chief Queen. That building was moved to this site in 1880 by King Thibaw after his father death in it. The building is covered inside and out with carved panels. Unfortunately many of the exterior panels have weathered badly and have been removed but inside are still in excellent condition.

Kuthodaw Pagoda is well known for the world biggest book. In the early 1870, King Mindon commissioned 5, 000 masons to carve the slabes, copying them from palm-leaf manuscripts, which took 8 years to complete. Originally the letters were inlaid with gold and totally contain 729 marble slabs sculptured the teaching of the Buddha as a commemoration 2400th anniversary of Buddhism and also known as the world’s largest book. Each slab is housed in its own individual small stupa. The central stupa was modeled after ShweZigon Pagoda at Bagan.

AtumashiKyaung Monastery, which is one of the most magnificent temples in all of South-East-Asia. It was of traditional Burmese monastic construction – a monastery base topped by a wooden building – but instead of the usual multi roofed design it consisted of graduated rectangular terraces.

Shwe Inn Bin Monastery, of wood-carved ornamentation along the balustrades and roof cornices is of exquisite quality. It was built in 1895 by wealthy Chinese jade merchants. It is well worth to see the construction of typical Burmese monastery.

Kyauktawgyi Buddha Image, which was carved form a single block of marble. The marble block form the mine of nearby Mandalay. It required 10, 000 men labouring for 13 days for transport it from a canal to the current site. Ornamented with royal attire, the image was completed in 1865.

The Mandalay Palace, which was completely destroyed during World War II but has been reconstructed in recent years, has the original city walls with fort. A 33 meter high watchtower, Nan MyintSaung, reached via a spiral staircase, commands a view of the entire compound and cityscape.

Mandalay Hill, which is 235 meters above the sea level and charming place to contemplate the sunset should not be missed where you can admired the beauty of Mandalay city, the view to majestic Ayeyarwaddy river and Shan plateau, etc.

The most basic transportation is the bicycles. We can even name Mandalay as the city of bicycles but not recommended to take because of the dangers.

As there are vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles, we should know very well how to go properly because the traffic system is not so systematic.
As it is the second Capital of Myanmar, we have several choices of international standard hotels as well as local management hotels.

Mandalay has varieties of food as there are several local restaurants and international hotels serving delicious foods, such as Myanmar, Chinese, Thai, European, India and International.

The night life is not so ambient and most of the restaurants and bars are closed at about 10:00 or 10:30. There are two or three bars open until midnight and people are fond of enjoying karaoke.

For lovers of arts and crafts, Mandalay represents the largest repository of Myanmar arts and crafts. It is here that visitors can observe skilled craftsmen make beautiful articles of ivory, wood, marble and stone, silverware and bronze statues according to the time - honoured traditions of their fore-fathers.

MINGUN

Situated about 11 km upriver from Mandalay on the western bank of the Ayeyarwady River, Mingun is noted for its huge unfinished Pagoda and 90-ton bell, the largest ringing bell in the world. Duringboat excursion to Mingun, we may enjoy the fascinated view, the glimpse of river life and its tranquility. 

The Mingun Pagoda which is unfinished and also known as the world’s biggest pile of bricks. The base of the pagoda badly cracked by the earthquake of 1838 and stands 50 m but it had been completed, it was to be 150 m high. A pair of big lions have just in front of the temple at their guard posts closer to the river. They were badly damaged by the 1838 quake.

Mingun bell, 4 meter high and over 5 meter in diameter at the lip and weighing 90 tons was cast by the lost-wax process on Nandaw Island, and commissioned by King Bodawpaya in 1970 for his new big pagoda. It was transported across the Ayeyarwaddyriver on two boats. The bell was originally hung on teak uprights, but these gave away during the 1838 earthquake. It is said the largest un-cracked bell in the world – the biggest although flawed, is in Moscow.

HsinbyumePaya, also known as Myatheindan is interesting places to see. It is in the form of the SulamaniPagoda resting on Mount Meru, the centre of the earth according to the Buddhist Cosmography. The seven terraces represent the seven seas of Buddhist cosmology and around the terrace base are niches housing Nats, Ogres and Naga.

AMARAPURA

Amarapura which is situated 11 km south of Mandalay,an ancient capital of the Konbaung dynasty. It is now a small town famous for its silk weaving looms that produce various designs and beautiful patterns.

MahagandayonMonastery, is where we can observe the life of the monks how they live and how they study. It was founded around 1914 and is renowned as a center for monastic study and strict religious discipline.

U Bein Bridge which was constructed with teak pillars brought from the deserted Ava palace to built 1.2 km long footbridge.It is a place to contemplate the picturesque sunset to end the day of your visit.

SAGAING

Not far from Mandalay, there is the famous place for religious centre called 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 OoPonnyashin 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, it was built in 1636 and styled after Ceylonese (Sri Lanka) pagoda in commemoration of the re-establishment of AVA as the royal capital. Its’ unusual shape a perfect hemisphere enormous dome is amazing to see far from this pagoda.

INNWA (AVA)

A historical capital founded by King ThadoMinphya in 1364.Ava was the capital for about 400 years and no other capital has lasted as long. But very few remains of its golden period can be seen today. 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, MaenuOkkyaung Monastery, was built by King Bagyidaw’s chief queen for the royal abbot NyaungganSayardaw in 1818. Construction brick and stucco, its design simulates that of wooden monasteries, which multiple roofs and a prayer hall with a 7-tiered superstructure. It has fine decorations and carving. It was also damage by the 1838 earthquake.

Bargayar Monastery: The entire monastery is built of teak and consists of 267 teak pillars (the largest measures 18 m in height and 2.7 m in circumference). And still remain in good condition. 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.

PyinOoLwin

After seeing the historical monuments in Mandalay, the journey can be extend to PyinOoLwin( Maymyo). It is a popular gateway town, just 66 km east of Mandalay, reachable 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, PyinOoLwin is pleasantly cool and a relief from the heart of the plains. 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. Getting around PyinOoLwin can be enjoyable; the standard transport around is a miniature, enclosed wagon pulled by a pony. The lodging can be the most fun of all. The local market, which is a good place for an evening stroll or an interesting morning spent around the markets, the Kandawgyi National Park, the Pwekauk waterfalls,Maha Ant HtooKanThar Buddha Image, the Peikchinmyaung caves are highlights of PyinOoLwin whereas Anisakhan waterfalls and Chinese Temple are optional visits at extra time. Although it has few choices for the accommodation, the hotels are charming, tasteful and high quality. We usually do it as day return trip from Mandalay but we can offer a one night stop over.

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.

Monywa

117 km from Mandalay (3hour drive) liesMonywa, a major trading centre for agricultural produce from the surrounding Chindwin Valley since it is situated on the eastern bank of the 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. The central stupa is vaguely reminiscent of Borobudur in Indonesia, though considerably smaller. There are 854 small stupas that surround and rise up to the richly decorated central stupa. The huge Shwetharlyaung Reclining Buddha Image of 100 meters long & the Boditahtaung Temple with 10000 Bodi trees are also worth visiting. The nearby Kyaukka village is also a nice place to visit for its lacquerware since Konbaung era. 

Powintaung Caves; driving across the Chindwin River from Monywa will bring us to the sandstone caves situated in a cleft on the Powintaung Hills. The hill have probably been occupied since the dawn of human habitation in Myanmar ( to the southwest lies the PontaungPonnya mountain range, where the fossilized remains of Pontaung Man, who may have lived 30 million years ago were found). The caves and surrounding hills are named after U Powin, a famous alchemist who once lived among them. The caves contain Buddha statues over four hundred thousands and mural paintings dating back to the 17th & 18th centuries. Just beyond Powintaung Caves is Shweba Hills, the unique pavilions from the surrounding sandstone and filled with Buddha images.

There are some accommodations acceptable for foreign visitors with 3* quality. The rooms are bungalows with bathroom attached, air condition, cold and hot shower and mini bar, fridge. The only one place to dine is at the hotel, which is the best available in town and get wonderful food.

Mogoke

Located 200 km north east of Mandalay and it takes about six & half hours to get there. At 1170 meters above sea level, the mountain basin surrounding “ Ruby Land” enjoys a fairly temperature climate. Royalty throughout the world have sought Mogoke rubies and sapphires for many centuries. Alluvial limestone gravels are the source, and deposits are exploited by means of tunneling, pit-digging or panning-all performed by hand. Other precious and semi-precious stones found in Mogoke District include peridot, lapis, lazuli, moonstone, garnet and chrysoberyl. There are two different types of accommodation, Mogoke Motel & Golden Butterfly Resort. The Mogoke Motel is 2* quality whereas Golden Butterfly is 3*. All the rooms are bathroom attached, hot & cold shower, TV & Mini-bar. The local restaurants there serve mainly Chinese foods but Myanmar & regional foods can be tasted as well.

Shwebo

A flat plain that lies around Shwebo has been continuously inhabited since at least 3rd century, when the Pyus founded a city-state at nearby Hanlin. It served as a royal capital from 1760 to 1764, when a native established Third Myanmar Empire followed by the conquest of the whole country. Shwebo today has a Myanmar majority. The local economy depends on the trading of nuts, pulses, rice and sesame cultivated on the surrounding plains. We can get a good view of the city from Maw DawMyin Pagoda, AugnMye Su Taung, the town’s “wishing ground”, is said to be the spot used by the king as a staging point before going into battle.

Hanlin

The architectural remains of the Pyu Kingdom (3rd to 9th centuries) at Hanlinconsists of a few crumbling city walls, gates, pillars and now-ruined pagodas but little else. Pots and other artifacts excavated at the site are displayed in a small museum in the local monastery. It is just 11 km of Shwebo.

 

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