Mandalay & Environs
Mandalay was founded in 1857 as the capital by King
Mindon and remained the capital city of the Konboung, Myanmar's last
dynasty. King Mindon built the present Palace City in 1858, it was
known as Yadanabon (the Gem City).
Mandalay is situated on the Ayeyarwaddy in
central Myanmar, 688km north of Yangon and is reachable by land,
waterway and air. Mandalay is the cultural heart of Myanmar.
Mandalay's monasteries and pagodas are of great religious
significance to all Myanmar.
Situated about 11km south of Mandalay, Amarapura is
an ancient capital of the Konbaung Dynasty. Places of interest
include the Patodawgyi Pagoda, U Bein Bridge (1208 meters long),
silk and cotton weaving workshops and Maha Gandayon Monastery.
Inwa lies 20 km southeast of Mandalay. Founded by
the Shan King Thadominbya in 1364, it remained the royal capital for
almost 5thcenturies. Visitors cross the river on a ferry boat and
ride around the sites of Ava in a horse-drawn pony cart. Highlights
include the Nanmyint Watchtower, Bargaya Teak wood Monastery, Maha
Aungmye Bonzan kyaung, Htilaingshin Paya and the workshop making
lacquer alms bowl for monks.
The ancient capital of Sagaing lies 21km southwest
of Mandalay on the west bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. The Sagaing
Hill offer famous religious retreats where monks and nuns go for
study and meditation in over 400 monasteries. Nearby is Ywataung
Village known for its sliver craftsmen.
Mingun is 11km up river from Mandalay on the western
bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. It is noted for the Mingun Paya, a
huge unfinished pagoda, Myatheindan Pagoda and a gigantic 90-ton
bell the largest uncracked ringing bell in the world. The 45 minutes
boat trip to Mingun is a very pleasant way to see the life along the
Ayeyarwaddy River. Tourists never fail to visit there.
Monywa, about 140km to the west of Mandalay is a
commercial centre of Chindwin Valley. Bodhi-ta-taung Pagoda (one
thousand Bo trees), a 300 foot long reclining Buddha, Kyaukka
Shweguni Pagoda and lacquer ware village. Thanbodhe Pagoda (with
over 500,000 Buddha images), and Shwe Ba Hill and the famous cave of
Po Win Taung across the river are major tourist attractions.
Pyin Oo Lwin, 1070 meters above sea level, is 67 km
east from Mandalay. It is best known as Maymyo, a former British
colonial summer retreat. The famous Candacraig Hotel, Kandawgyi
Garden (formerly Botanical gardens) and the Pyin Oo Lwin Market are
Excursions to Pwe Kauk waterfalls, Peik Chin Myaung cave and a ride
on a horse-drawn stagecoach through the town Pyin Oo Lwin is an easy
day trip from Mandalay. Hiking trips to the nearby Anisakhan Falls
can be arranged.
Hsipaw is a Shan town, and was the local capital of
a Shan principality.
The old wooden traditional Haw, Palace of the Sawbwa
was destroyed by bombing during the last World War, but we were able
to visit the interesting modern Sawbwa's residence built during
colonial times by Sawbwa Sao Ohn Kya who ruled Hsipaw from 1928 to
Hispaw has a large local market in the center of the
town, with cinemas, small guest houses and restaurants near the bus
stands. The Haw is at the northern end of the town and the main
pagoda, the Maha Myatmuni Phaya is right at the southern end. The
roads are parallel to the Namtu or Dokhtawaddy River with its clear,
cool waters against a backdrop of hill and mountains.
Lashio is the trading centre for northern Shan State
at the beginning of the famous Burma Road leading into China. From
Mandalay you can reach Lashio by road in a day. Lashio has one of
the most colorful markets in the state. Each morning Chinese, Wa,
Shan, Bamar, Lisu and Palaung national races gather for their daily
shopping. It is a mountain town at 855 meters. Quan Yin San Chinese
Temple, hot springs and New Pyi Lon Chan Tha Pagoda are among some
of the places to visit.