Was the last capital of the Konboung Dynasty or the Third Myanmar Empire. It is located 668
km north from Yangon. It is the heart land of Myanmar. The largest city after Yangon, it is a bustling
commercial centre and a repository of ancient Myanmar culture. The restored old Royal Palace boasts
finely built palace walls and a beautiful moat surrounding the palacecum-fortress. Mandalay is a showcase for Myanmar arts and architecture.
It is also renowned for stone carvings, wood carrvings, tapestries silkwear, silverware, bronze casting
and other traditional arts and crafts. Mandalay is also the principal centre for studies of Buddhistic literature
and its monasteries and pagodas hold deep religious significance in Myanmar.
King Mindon built his Royal Palace on the model of Brahmin Buddhist cosmology to represent the center
of the world, Mount Meru. The palace formed a perfect square, with the outer walls facing the four cardinal
directions and the 12 gates three on each side marked with the signs of the zodiac. In the exact
10 Taw Win Travel centre of the palace was the throne room called the “Lion Room” surrounded
by other throne rooms. The palaces were built of teak, lacquered, gilded, in some instances
such as the Glass Palace, entirely covered with mosaic of coloured glass.
A reconstructed version of the
palaces can be found in the 2000
acres of the palace ground/ Also
there is a museum containing a collection
of Mandalay regalia.
The only palace building to survive World War II intact is the Shwenandaw Kyaung. At one time
this building was part of the palace complex and was used as an apartment
by King Mindon and his chief queen. It was in this building that he died. King Thibaw, his successor,
dismantled it after his father’s death and re-erected it on its present site. Today the
Shwe Nandaw is most famous for its intricate wood carving. Each massive
pillar is a single trunk of teak still showing remnants of vermillion, lacquer,
gold and filigree decoration. At one time the building was gilded and decorated with
glass mosaics. The carved panels inside are still in excellent condition, particularly the
ten jataka scenes taken from the Buddha’s life.
Beside the Shwe Nandaw Kyaung is the reconstructed monastery known as ‘Incomparable
Taw Win Travel 11 Monastery,’ Atumashi Kyaung, completed in 1878. It was the last great
religious edifice construced by King Mindon. In 1890 the monastery caught fire and, together with its
contents which included four complete sets of the Tripitaka in teak boxes was completely gutted. A
famous Buddha image, with an enormous diamond set in its forehead, was the
pride of the Kyaung, but it was stolen during the British takeover of Mandalay in 1885. This
Kyaung was once described by European visitors as one of the most beautiful buildings in all of
Mandalay’s most fabled pagoda is the Mahamuni Pagoda built in 1784 by King Bodawpaya to
house the Mahamuni Image. But is was destroyed by fire in 1884. The highly venerated Mahamuni Image
was transported by elephant from Rakhine in 1784. The image is about 38 metres (12 feet 7 inches) high.
The seated image is cast in bronze. In a separate building to the north
of the main pagoda are six bronze Khmer statues. There are lions. Two are male warriors
and one is Erawan, the three-headed elephant. Originally these figures stood sentry at
Angkor at in Cambodia, then were taken from Angkor by the This in 1431. King Bayinaung of Bago had
taken them from the Siamese capital of Ayuthia in 1564. In 1663 King Razagyi from Rakhine removed
these very same statues from Bago. These Khmer figures were brought back from Rakhine along with the
Mahamuni Buddha image. Devout Buddhists have completely covered the Mahamuni statue in a thick layer
Shwe In Bin Kyaung (Monastery)
This large and elegant teak building was constructed by wealthy chinese jade merchants in 1895.
The wood carved ornamentation along the balustrades and roof cornices corniches is of exquisite quality.
Arts & Crafts
Mandalay is a major crafts centre. Not far from the Mahamuni Pagoda are the artists and
craftsmen’s quarters. Buddha figures are hewn from alabaster and marble by stonemasons, using the
same skills and methods as their forefathers. Woodcarving is among the most ancient of Myanmar handicraft,
and embroidery is a highly respected art form Mandalay is a centre for traditional embroidery as well
as modern work with sequins.
Some 11 km south of Mandalay. It is often referred to as Taungmyo, “The Southern City”.
The old name means “City of Immortality”. It was the capital of the Konbaung Dynasty before Mandalay. Today Amarapura’s main livelihood is cotton
and silk weaving.
U Bein’s Bridge
This 1.2 km long foot bridge was built by U Bein, the ‘mayor’ at the time of the shift from Ava. He
salvaged material from the deserted Ava Palace to build the bridge and it remains the longest teak span in
At the far end of the U Bein Bridge is the Kyauktawgyi pagoda built by King Pagan in 1847. The
temple’s east and west entrances are decorated with lively murals depicting
the daily life of the Burmese at the time of the pagoda’s constructions.
Shwekyetyet Pagoda & Shwe Kyetkya Pagoda
On Amarapura’s Ayeyarwaddy bank they were built by a 12th century King of Pagan.
A boat ride up Ayeyarwaddy River takes one to the village of Mingun. It home to the world’s largest
ringing bell at 90 tons.
The Mingun Pagoda stands some 100 metres south of the bell. Thousand of slaves laboured to
build a massive stupa beginning in 1790, work halted in 1819 when the King died, leaving a brick base that
stands about a third of its intended height. An earthquake split the monument in 1838 and wrought
considerable damage. An enormous pile of bricks is all that remains of a grandiose scheme.
At the north end of Mingun, beyond the village is one of the prettiest pagodas found in Myanmar.
Built by King Bagyidaw in 1816, this stupa was in memory of his senior wife, the Hsinbyume princess. It is
a representation of the
Sulamani Paya which according to the Buddhist plan of the cosmos stands
atop Mt Meru.
The classical name by which Ava is known in Myanmar, is Ratnapura, the city of gems. From
1364 Ava was the capital of a 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 can still to be traced.
Nanmyint Watch Tower
The 27 metre high watch tower known as the leaning tower of Ava, is all that remains of the palace built
Taw Win Travel 13 by Bagyidaw. The upper portion was damaged by an earthquake in
1838 and it began leaning because the earth was sinking beneath it.
Maha Aungmye Bonzan
Not far from the watch tower is the best preserved of all buildings in Ava, the Maha Aungmye
also known as the OK Kyaung. This is a brick and stucco monastery built by the chief queen
of Bagyidaw for her royal abbot in 1818.
Bagaya Kyaung (Monastery)
Is one of the most beautiful monasteries, famous for its 267 teak pillars and exquisite little
Side Shows There are many pagodas in Ava region. Htilaingsaw pagoda dates
back to the Bagan period. To the southern side of the city is the fourstorey
Leitutgyi pagoda and Lawkatharaphu pagoda. There is also Ava fort which
was considered part of the “unconquerable triangle” including Thabyedan and Sagaing
Is located 21 km south west of Mandalay with dotted pagodas, over 400 monasteries and nunneries.
Scattered among them are fine European style stucco buildings. The Sagaing Hills is noted as a religious
Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda
Easily reached by car. Further back in the western hill chain lies the U Min Thonze Pagoda where
45 Buddha images, meditate in a semi circle. On the easterly point of the two ridges rising above Sagaing stands the U Min Kyaukse Pagoda which is a fine view over Mandalay and the Irrawaddy. Mural
paintings hundreds of years old can be found in the Tilawkgu cave and the Myipaukgyi Pagoda.
Kaung Hmudaw Pagoda
10 km beyond the Sagaing is the enormous 46 metre high eggshaped dome modelled after the
Mahaceti (Great Stupa) in Sri Lanka. The pagoda was built in 1636. It is said to contain the Buddhas
“Tooth of Kandy” and King Dhammapala’s miracle-working bowl.
200 km north of Mandalay. It is built round the banks of Myokein, a large lake in a magnificient valley
formed by pagoda-studded mountains, 2,640 feet above sea level. Famed for the surrounding
natural beauty and for the world renowned Burma Ruby and sapphire pulled from its red earth.
A worthwhile trip, 136 km (76) miles north west of Mandalay, 3 hrs drive from Mandalay. Interesting
sites are Thanbokde pagoda with more than 500,000 Buddha images, Ledi Kyaung Taik Monastery
with Buddhist scriptures inscribed on 806 stone slabs, Kyauka Village, well known for the
unique style of its lacquenware. A short ferryride across the Chindwin river followed
by a 25 km 45 minutes drive are Powing Taung, and Shwe Ba Taung. Probably
occupied since the dawn of human habitation in Myanmar. To the Southeast is Pon
Taung-pon-nya mountain range where the fossilized remains of Pondaung Man, who
may have lived 30 million years ago, was uneacthed. Powing Taung hills and the
caves contain Buddha wood carvings and murals dating to 17th & 18th
centuries. There are about twelve large and small caves in the area hollowed out with buddha images.
There said to be over 400,000 images in these and other nearby caves. Shwe Ba Taung has unique
pavillions cut from the surrounding hill with plain buddha images.
A pleasant excursion from Mandalay about 2 hrs drive is Pyin Oo Lwin formerly known as
Maymyo, almost 3000 above sea level. The famous Botanical Gardens was the creation of Sir Hacourt
Butler during the First World War using Turkish POWs as labour. It is 237 acres in area and modelled on
the classical English Garden. It is a good place for a stroll or bicyling.
Other attractions include, waterfalls like Pwekauk falls, Anisakan falls,
and Peik Chin Myaung caves.
ttractions Purcell Tower, the clock tower near the towns entrance. A present
from Queen Victoria, who presented an indentical twin to Cape Town in South Africa.
Known for its Sawbwa Haw (Shan Chief’s Palaces). Nearby is the over 100 years old. Godkeik Viaduct.
An American built bridge in the British empire over a deep gorge. It is the second highest railway
bridge in the world. Trekking to a Shan village or cruising along Dokhtawaddy River is always a