Mandalay & Environs
MandalayFounded in 1857, the last capital of the Myanmar kingdom of an era gone by, Mandalay is located in central Myanmar, 668 km north of Yangon. The city has large sentimental value as it was the capital of the last Myanmar monarch. It still boasts of the finely built palace walls and the beautiful moat around the four sides of those walls.It is the cultural centre and seat of Buddhism, rich in monuments, pagodas and places with a flourishing handicraft industry. In this holy city, reputedly prophesized and built by the Buddha Gautama is the most famous pagoda, the Mahamyatmuni followed by Kyauktawgyi pagoda, Kuthodaw pagoda which holds the 729 stone tabloids of the Tipitaka, the Shwe Kyaung Monastery, wherein is preserved the unique Myanmar art with magnificent Jataka scenes engraved on panels of teakwood and Myanan Sankyaw Royal Palace Complex. Visitors can enjoy the sun-set from Mandalay Hill, 230 metres in elevation, that commands a magnificent view of the city and surrounding countryside.A variety of other attractions are puppet shows, traditional dances and visits to the local handicraft centre where bamboo paper and gold leaves are made. Mandalay is also a centre for silk and cotton weaving, marble stone carving, bronze and silver crafts and tapestry making. It also is the commercial center with rail, road, river and air links to all parts of the country. There are several ancient capitals around Mandalay such as Amarapura, Sagaing, Ava( Inwa ), Mingun where Kongbaung dynasty kings established their capitals respectively.
Amarapura11 km south of Mandalay is the town of Amarapura (City of Immortality).It was the capital of Konbang Dynasty at 18th century. It lies on the left bank of the Irrawaddy River. This town is famous for silk and cotton weaving even it’s also known as the weaving town. Amarapura’s attractions include Pahtodawgyi Pagoda, U bein teak bridge (1.2km), the longest wooden bridge in Myanmar originally built in 1851, Mahagandayone Monastery and Kyauktawgyi Pagoda.
Ava ( Inwa)Inwa, located across Myit Nge River about 20 kilometers southwest of Mandalay is the capital of Myanmar Kingdom for nearly 400 years. What is impressive about this historical capital is its fine Myanmar masonry, art and architecture.The 88 feet high watchtower known as the “leaning tower of Ava” and Bargaya teak monastery which is famous for its teak pillars amounting to 267 in total are still to be seen today.
SagaingOnce an ancient city, Sagaing lies 21 km south-west of Mandalay on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River. The lure of Sagaing is the Sagaing Hills – a spiritual recluse for Buddhist studies and meditation. It is an important religious center with some 600 Buddhist pagodas, temples and monasteries. The Kaunghmudaw – a gigantic dome-shaped pagoda and the Ywahtaung Village – work place of silver craftsmen are other points of interest.
MingunLocated across majestic Ayeyarwady River approximately 12 kilometer north of Mandalay. It is reached by ferry boats across the river and takes 1 hour for up-river. Mingun today host the world’s second largest ringing Bell of 90 tons in weight.Another principal sight is the colossal ruined base of the Mingun pagoda- an unfinished work of King Bodawpaya, which if it had been completed, would have been the largest pagoda in the world. A boat trip to Mingun is pleasant with plenty of life on the river to see.
Pyin Oo Lwin42 miles from Mandalay and accessible by car is the beautiful town of Pyin Oo Lwin. Previously it was known as Maymyo in honour of Col. May of the 5th Bengal Infantry who stationed there in 1886 A.D. Pyin Oo Lwin is situated on the Shan Plateau at the elevation of above 3500 feet and as such enjoys a very pleasant and cool climate. This well-kept resort of beautiful Tudor architecture, nostalgic stagecoaches, happy market place and the fresh and lush bloom of colourful flowers, is worth a visit.Other attractions include the National Botanical Garden. Pwekauk Waterfalls, Maymyo market, the limestone grotto with underground stream known as Peik-Chin Myaung.