When one speaks of handicrafts and cottage industries, Mandalay, the city of the last Myanmar kings and heart of Myanmar's culture, artistry and religion, surely is the place. There is unique gold embroidery, hand-weaving of silk and cotton, the incredible process of making gold leaves, wood and stone carving and bronze casting. The river jetty at Mandalay is a bee-hive activity with small boats going up and down the river, bamboo rafts and cargo boats with huge logs from the teak forests upriver. Here, the water buffaloes are the beasts of burden, hauling the logs from the river up to the lumber storage areas along the river bank.
The palace within the city, built in 1857 and destroyed by fire during the Second World War, is surrounded by thick brick walls. Myanan-Sankyaw Golden Palace (model of the Mandalay palace), the Nanmyint-Saung Tower and the Cultural Museum can be found inside the palace grounds.
The holiest pagoda in Myanmar, hosting the revered Mahamuni image, casted in the 1st century and now covered in thick gold leaves, attracts pilgrims from all over the country.
With its height of 236 meters and 1,729 steps it offers a terrific view of the city and the surrounding countryside!
From there you can see the...
Built by King Mindon in 1877. This pagoda is surrounded by 729 upright marble slabs on which the entire Buddhist scriptures are inscribed. Created by 2,400 monks, it is also known as the "World's Largest Book". Next to this pagoda you will find the...
Famous for its exquisite wood carving. It was part of the palace complex during King Mindon's time before it was shifted piece by piece to the east of the Mandalay palace.
Only an hour's boat trip from Mandalay, Mingun is noted for its 90-ton bell, which is the largest ringing bell in the world and its unfinished huge pagoda, the world's largest piece of bricks with 50 meter in height, obscuring life along the river banks. Since one must go bare-footed in all pagodas, it is quite a climb to the top - finished or unfinished - but the views over the village and the river are spectacular.
Situated 21 km southwest of Mandalay, Sagaing Hills is known as the heart of the Buddhist religion with over 400 monasteries for monks and nuns. The sunset over the Ayeyarwaddy River, viewed from Son Oo Ponyashin Pagoda, are breathtaking.
"Clackety-clack, clackety-clack" you hear while strolling through Amarapura, nowadays famous for silk and cotton weaving, but in ancient times known as the "City of Immortals". The former capital of Upper Burma (until 1850) is located idyllically at the Thaungthaman Lake which is crossed by
U BEIN BRIDGE
A teak bridge spanning 1.2 km, the world's longest of its kind. Why not having a Chinese tea at the banks of the Thaungthaman Lake before you walk across the bridge to
Which houses an excellent seated Buddha image and has wonderful well-preserved frescoes in the four entrance porches.
You will find here over 400 Buddha statues and the oldest Buddhist scriptures which are written on palm leaves.
PYIN OO LWIN
Also known as Maymyo, when it was a British hill station. The old stagecoaches are still operating as local taxi service. There are plenty to see, such as the wonderful Botanical Garden, Pwe Kauk Waterfall, the busy market and the newly built Pye Lone Chan Tha Pagoda, which houses a mysterious Buddha image. Why not taking a train one early morning which takes a winding circuitous uproute through the hills at sunrise!
136 km to the west, is the commercial center of Chindwin Valley. En route encounter wonderful markets for rice, beans, peanuts and corn. Highlights are the
With over 500,000 Buddha images,
Where over 806 stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures are inscribed,
Which means 'One Thousand Bo Trees', and, not to forget,
The Reclining Buddha, over 70 meters in length and - again - the largest one in the world.