Around Mandalay

Around Mandalay

Amarapura.

Amarapura is an ancient city in Myanmar that was build by King Bodawpaya in 1782. Located 12 km south of Mandalay, it is the youngest of the many royal cities near Mandalay. It was the custom at that time for a new king to move the capital to a new site whenever he ascends to the throne. In the case of Amarapura, the capital was transfered from Inwa (Ava). The name Amarapura means “city of immortality”. However the people of Mandalay, simply calls it Taungmyo, meaning “southern city” or Myohaung, or “Old City”. Amarapura was founded according to the advice of court astrologers, the Manipurian Brahmans, who were concerned about the circumstances surrounding Bodawpaya’s ascendency to the throne. A power struggle has culminated with the massacre of the village of Paungga near Sagaing. The Brahmans believed that the only way to prevent further misfortune was to transfer the capital. Hence the entire population of Inwa was ordered to pack up their belongings and migrate to the land given to them around the new Amarapura palace. Today, Amarapura is well known as a centre of weaving. Over ten thousand of its inhabitants are involved in this trade, and they produce some of Myanmar’s finest festive clothing.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Mingun.

Up early for the visit to the 3 ancient Cities. We headed of towards Sagaing, but as this is Myanmar, there was an entry fee for these 3 and also the 4th City, Mingun. There was not much left of the old place with the highlight being Kaunghmudaw Paya. It looked like a huge white washed breast in front of the gate!!!!! We moved on to Ava. They put you in a boat, you cross a river, and then you get in a horse and carriage. It was fun, but not for the horses. We travelled around, looking at the old ruined Payas and then arrived at Bagaya Kyaung. Completely made of wood and very old. We watched a teacher, teaching his students, then we jumped back into the carriage, to look at more. We went off road and passed Nanmyi, an old tower with a greater lean than Pisa’s !!!!! Then we were at Maha Aungmye Bonzan Paya. It was big. It’s hard to believe they left this place. We went back over the river and then we were on our way to Amarapura. There were a few old Payas around, but we came here to see the world’s longest wooden bridge. Its about a K in length and is only for walking. We crossed, we came back. The day was over, so we headed back. Dinner was had as usual, on the streets. In the morning, we jumped in a cyclo to take us to the wharf where we had to get the boat to Mingun. The boat took a while to get there, and then it appeared, Mingun. It was the size, that made this place was special. It was massive. Every side was 140 metres long and at least 100 metres high. Now I come from N.S.W. where everything is big, but this towered over them. An earthquake had stopped the locals building this. It was 2/3rds finished when this happened. We climbed to the top. No safety rails, just the edge !!!! Great views. Once down, we looked at the other Payas around and then it was time to go back. Back in Mandalay, I had succumbed to flu like virus, so I was asleep by 9 on New Years. Anyway, we had a boat to catch to get to Bagan.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Monywa.

Myanmar Magway Division Myanmar is located in the central part of Myanmar (Burma). Its major part falls in the Dry Zone. Magway Myanmar Division has a common boundary with Mandalay Division and Bago Division as well as Rakhine and Chin States in Myanmar. Sagaing is to its north and Mandalay is in its east. Bago is to its south, and Rakhine and Chin is to its west. The western hilly Myanmar region whose rainfall is slightly more than other parts of Magway, Bago Mountain Range and the southernmost part have the tropical Savannah Climate. As the majority part of Myanmar Magway falls within the Dry Zone, it is very hot during the hot season and is relatively cold during the cold season. The major crop is sesamum and over one million acres is put under the crop in this reagion of Myanmar. Other crops grown are millet, maize, common millet (Lu), Italian millet (Hsat), groundnut, sunflower, bean and pulses. Virginia tobacco, toddy, chili, onion, potato, etc.There are three water-pump stations, nine electric waterpump sites, and 32 diesel-powered water-pump sites. There are Thanakha (Limonia acidissima) plantations and the Shinmataung Thanaka variety is well known in Myanmar country. The known mineral resource of the Myanmar Magway Divistion is oil, it being the area where oil was first discovered and is now being extracted in large quantities in Myanmar. Yenangyaung Oil Field, Chauk Oil Field and Mann Oil Field in Minbu (Saku) are major oil producing areas in Myanmar country. Other products are cane, bamboo, charcoal, cutch, teak and hardwoods in Myanmar Magway Division.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Inwa.

AVA OVERVIEW
Inwa was formerly known as Ava and it is located 21km from Mandalay. Inwa was also known as Yadana Pura. It was first founded as a capital by King Thado Minbya in 1364 A.D. It is the confluence of the Ayeyarwaddy & Myint Nge rivers. But the king had a canal dug to join the Myint Nge and Myint Tha rivers thus cutting off the capital as an island, safe from enemy attacks. As successive kings ruled the war with King Raza Darit of Bago for many years, the Shan chief Thohan Bwa took the advantage and overran the capital. Gradually the kingdom grew weaker and finally it became a vassal to the Taungoo Empire. Later kings shifted the capital from Inwa back and forth many times until King Bayint Naung’s son King Nyaung Yan re-established his capital at Inwa in 1596 A.D. It continued to be capital till 1782 when Bodawpaya moved the capital to Amarapura. But his son King Bagyidaw moved his capital back to Inwa. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1838. The ruins of the palace, the massive fort walls and moat can still be seen of the splendour of the past when it had been the capital for more than four and half centuries. Inwa lies south of Mandalay and can from there in only 30 minutes of drive be attained. This old king city was long time capital of Oberburma. The foreign country was at present well-known Myanmar as the Kingdom of Ava.The king palace at that time does not exist any longer, however still the Nanmyint awake tower. From 27 meters height of bird perspective one can examine the range of the historical place. Numerous pagodas, temple and monasteries outlasted however Inwas’ eventful past. The monastery Maha Aung Myay Bon Zan built with brick and stucco is particularly interesting. It was established to 1818 by the queen Me Nu for the royal abbot at that time U Po. On the road to Sagaing, just before you reach the Inwa bridge, there is a road branching east ward. The Inwa bridge crosses the Ayeyarwaddy River. This road leads to a ferry station where you can cross the Myittha river to reach Inwa.On the road to Sagaing, just before you reach the Inwa bridge, there is a road branching east ward. The Inwa bridge crosses the Ayeyarwaddy River. This road leads to a ferry station where you can cross the Myittha river to reach Inwa.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Pyin Oo Lwin.

Pyin Oo Lwin or Pyin U Lwin or Pyin Oo Lwin , formerly Maymyo , is a scenic resort town in Mandalay Division in Myanmar, located some 67 kilometers east of Mandalay, and at an altitude of 1070 meters. It was initially a Shan village situated on the Lashio-Mandalay road between Naungcho and Mandalay. During the British colonial occupation, the British, in 1896, developed it as a hill station because of its cool alpine climate, especially during the hot season. The colonial government of Burma would move to Maymyo during the hot season to escape from the high heat and humidity of Rangoon. The name May myo means May Town in Burmese, and comes from the town’s first administrator, Colonel May. As a legacy of the colonial period, the town has approximately 10,000 Indian and 5,000 Nepali inhabitants, who served in the British Indian Army (Gurkha Regiment) and settled in Maymyo after the British left, having granted independence to Burma. It was indeed until recently dominated by northern Indian communities. Maymyo was also an important educational centre during colonial times, with the GEHSs, such as St. Mary’s, St. Michael’s, St. Albert’s, and Colgate, all based in the town. It is also home to the Defence Services Academy (DSA) and the Defence Services Institute of Technology (DSIT). Maymyo also has a thriving Eurasian community, consisting mostly of Anglo-Burmese and Anglo-Indian communities. Sweater knitting, flower and vegetable plantation, orchards, coffee farming and cow rearing are the main local businesses. There has been an influx of Chinese immigrants (especially from Yunnan) in recent years. The city is a resort town for visitors from Myanmar’s major cities during the summertime. Established in 1915, the National Botanical Gardens and the adjacent Pyin Oo Lwin Nursery are famous attractions of Pyin U Lwin. The beautifully created national garden and the new National Landmarks Gardens are unique. A four acre orchid garden is planned for 2007. Today, Pyin Oo Lwin is particularly noted for four centres of national economic importance. It is the centre of sericulture (silkworm rearing). The Sericulture Research Centre, near the National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens, conducts three distinct roles: the intensive planting and harvesting of mulberry trees (leaves for the silk worms, bark for hand made paper), the rearing of the actual silk worms, and the reeling of the silk from the cocoons. It has a large research centre for indigenous medicinal plants. And it has one of the country’s few pharmaceutical production facilities. In addition, Pyin Oo Lwin is the centre of the country’s principal flower and vegetable production. The most important flowers grown intensively are chrysanthemum, aster and gladiolus, which are exported to every corner of Myanmar throughout the year. Lastly, Pyin Oo Lwin is the centre of Myanmar’s rapidly growing coffee industry. A number of factories in the town process coffee beans for country-wide distribution, with a growing amount now prepared for export.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Mogok Sagain

Mogok, where most of priceless Gems are mined, lies in a beautiful mountain valley, 128 miles to the north-east of Mandalay, and 60 miles to the east of Ayeyarwady river.
Mogok, where most of priceless Gems are mined, lies in a beautiful mountain valley, 128 miles to the north-east of Mandalay, and 60 miles to the east of Ayeyarwady river. There is the Great Lake of Mogok in the centre of the town, lying like a pool in the garden.The mountain ranges of Mogok are a part of the great Shan plateau but the town itself is in Mandalay Division. The residents are mostly Lisus and Shans who make their living by mining and cutting, polishing and marketing gemstones. For centuries, gems such as rubies and sapphires were found at Mogok abundantly and very easily–so easy that they were literally scopped up by hand from among tufts of grass-roots in the hill-side kitchen garden. Gems so begotten are now known as ‘grass-root stones’. And the kind of loose upper soil where they are easily found is named ‘Manipur paydirt’ because in old days Manipur immigrants were those ordered by the king to work the mines. In those days the price of ordinary rubies was, almost nothing. They were seen everywhere, bought and sold everyday. Only extraordinary ones, large, flawless and of pigeon-blood colour, were considered as something worthy. Rich men, lords and ladies, Sawbwas (chieftains) and kings used to collect only those extraordinary gem-stones. And among gems, rubies rank No.1. Mogok and its environs – Momeik, Twin, nge’, Thabeikkyin and Waphyudaung – together has a gem-bearing area of 1916 sq. miles. There are now over 1000 mines, which are of two main types –tunnel and open-cut. Small-scale traditional mines, such as lay-bin-gyin (four-sided pits, three feet square) are also worked in some places. Rubies and sapphires are found in most of the mines and they bring the highest prices. Mogok also produces numerous gems of lesser quality such as – alexandrite, amethyst, apatite, aquamarine, black tourmaline, black John, danburite, flourite, garnet, green tourmaline, lapis lazuli, moonstone, peridot, quartz, rose quartz, spinel, topaz, white sapphire, zircon. Mogok then and now, is a city of gems, the heart of the gem-zone and the centre of the gem trade. Some years in the past, private mines were all closed and even Myanmar nationals on visit to Mogok hadn’t the chance to see how the famous mines worked. If you really are interested in gems, Mogok in Myanmar is a must in your tour program, among other gem sites of the world.You should have enough time (at least 3 days) for the round trip from Mandalay to Mogok because it is a 128 mile motor-road (about 7 hour drive) and you have so many things to see and study about gem-mining, not to mention those lovely Lisu and Shan villages which adorn the misty valleys. After you have passed Letpanhla, the halfway stop for lunch, you are among the famous gem-producing hills, and the rock-formations will mesmerise you if you are a geologist. At Mogok you’ll be very busy the whole day. First, make a pilgrimage to Chanthagyi Pagoda – the name implies you’ll be immensely rich soon! Then to Mogok gem-market, where you just watch others buy and sell and get thrilled. At Shwepyiaye ruby mine, see the collection of gem gravels which are then washed and scrutinised the work of mining from start to finish. You’ll have to go to the lapidary works to study how the stones are cut and polished, ready for making jewellry. In the evening, climb up Kyeenitaung to take a sunset view of Mogok and to gaze wistfully towards those lovely Lisu villages.At Kyatpyin, 7 miles from Mogok on your return journey, you have the opportunity to see all kinds of gem-sites, large and small, worked in different method.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Shwebo.

Shwebo is King Alaung Mintayar U Aung Zay Ya, that founder of third Myanmar Kingdom reside it. The glory of Myanmar kings who could unify the entire nation is proudly described in the history of Myanmar including King Alaung Mintayar who successfully built the third Myanmar Empire. Alaung Mintayar was not from royal blood. He was the son of the headman of Motsobo village who became well known as U Aung Zay Ya. In 1115 during Myanmar era he built Motsobo as a royal city by the name of Yadana Theingha and constructed Shwebon Yadana Palace at the present site. The palace is now being reconstructed in its original form which structure is that of Dagaung era. The palace has twenty royal chambers. Although, it is used to be a dry zone, sometimes the weather is moderate, due to the environment greening project. Thus, there is less heat in summer. But, the tradition of carrying water with pots is still a part of the rural scene. The style of carrying water on one’s head in Shwe Bo township is very unusual. It is extraordinary to see this style of riding a bicycle, and at the same time, carrying a pot on the head without using hands. It is not easy to ride a bicycle, carrying a pot filled with water, balanced by the head. Some skillful women can carry two water-pots atop each other. The scene amazes visitors.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Palate.

Mandalay in Mandalay is situated a few miles away from Mandalay. By car you will take around 30 minutes to reach this unique destination. The town of Palate, Mandalay is famous for its main pagoda. The pagoda is called the Palate Snake Pagoda. As the name suggests, the pagoda has become home to three snakes that stay surrounding the statue of Buddha inside the building. Previously there had only been one snake that lived in the pagoda. But recently two more snakes seem to have made the pagoda their home.
The story of the pagoda dates back to the year 1977 when a Buddha statue was found accidentally by a monk inside an ancient ruined pagoda. The story includes details of three large pythons that were found on the top of the image. Ever since then, the pagoda had been named as the Snake Pagoda. Snake pagoda is actually the local name that has been given to the pagoda. In the local language the pagoda is known as Muei Phaya. But its actual name is ‘Ratna Laba Muni Sataungpyi Muei Phaya’. The snakes are quite friendly. They do not seem to mind all the attention that they receive from the people that come to see them from all over the world. In fact it is also quite common to see the visitors holding the snakes in their hands and taking pictures with them. The monks at the pagoda take regular care of the snakes. A fixed schedule is followed very day. The snakes are first given a bath by the monks everyday at 11 in the morning at the nearby pool. Their diet has been fixed in such way as to make sure they get the best nutrition. The snakes are fed milk, eggs and goats meat every 5th day as per the instructions of the veterinarian. Religious pilgrims and visitors from all over the world come to this small town to pay their respects at the Snake Pagoda whenever they plan a trip to Myanmar. Buddhism preaches taking good care of animals and treating them with respect and concern. In Palate, Mandalay, snakes have been considered as the guardians of Lord Buddha for a long time. If you plan a trip to Myanmar, then the small town of Plate and its Snake Pagoda is definitely a place to be visited without doubt.