In Mandalay, you come closest to the real Myanmar of old. The second largest city of Myanmar, with a population of 700,000, here lies the cultural heart of Myanmar where the most refined arts, traditions of dance, music and drama live on. Mandalay is also known for its fine gold and silver crafts, wood and marble carving, silk thread weaving and ancient tapestry.
The last capital of the Myanmar kingdom, Mandalay not only offers wonderful sights to behold, but also has a number of nearby attractions, most historical and fascinating, all within a 3.2 kilometre radius – from cool hill resorts to nostalgic market places, from an ancient palace to a river ride up the famous “Road to Mandalay”, the Ayeyarwady River, or a ride in unique trishaws or horse-drawn carts.
One thousand seven hundred steps uphill will give you a bird’s-eye view of the city, the outlying areas of the Ayeyarwady plains and the misty Shan hills- a spectacular sight! Fascinating and interesting sights along the way include colourful souvenir stalls, the Pershewar Relics, possibly the world’s only authentic bones of Buddha and the gold-plated Shweyattaw Buddha of immense size.
This pagoda was built by King Mindon in 1857. Within its premises may be found what is popularly known as “The World’s Largest Book” – the complete Buddhist Scriptures inscribed on 729 upright stone slabs surrounding the pagoda.
A golden city within a city, this was King Mindon’s centre of glory- a truly magnificent palace complex. However, it was tragically destroyed by allied bombing during World War Two. An exact replica of the old palace is now being built inside the walls. The finely built palace walls, surrounded by a moat, a delight for artists, architects, painters and photographers, is a sight to behold.
A masterpiece of woodcarving techniques, this wooden monastery is a reminder of King Mindon’s sleeping apartment in his palace complex. Best known for its fine and intricate woodcarvings, it is an outstanding example of traditional Myanmar wooden architecture.
Interesting journeys to nearby attractive sights include the following destinations – the three ancient cities of Amarapura, Sagaing and Inwa, up-river Mingun and cool-country Pyin-Oo-Lwin.
An ancient capital of the Myanmar Monarchy, 11 kilometres south of Mandalay, Amarapura’s attractions include the Patodawgyi Pagoda, U Pein’s Bridge and the silk weaving industry.
The lure of Sagaing, 21 kilometres south west of Mandalay, on the west bank of Ayeyarwady, is the Sagaing Hills – a spiritual recluse for Buddhist studies and meditation. The Kaunghmudaw – a gigantic dome-shaped pagoda and the Ywahtaung Village – home of silver craftsman are other points of interest.
What is impressive about this historical capital is its fine Myanmar masonry, art and architecture, especially the outstanding Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery.