Buddhist Circuits of Myanmar

8 Days Trip Code NSTR278

Myanmar: historical background

The country is bordered on the northwest by India and Bangladesh, on the northeast by Tibet and China, by Laos and Thailand to the southeast, and by the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea to the south. Myanmar's coastline is about 1,200 miles long (1,930 kilometers).

The highest point in Myanmar is Hkakabo Razi, with an elevation of 19,295 feet (5,881 meters). Myanmar's major rivers are the Irrawaddy, Thanlwin, and Sittang. Humans have lived in what is now Myanmar for at least 15,000 years. Bronze Age artifacts have been discovered at Nyaunggan, and the Samon Valley was settled by rice agriculturalists as early as 500 B.C.

Myanmar was known to the West ever since western explorers had heard of it. Marko Polo was the earliest known westerner who discovered Myanmar and introduced to the West. When the Khmer Empire based at Angkor extended its power, the Mon people from Thailand were forced west into Myanmar. They established kingdoms in southern Myanmar including Thaton and Pegu in the 6th to 8th centuries.

By 850, the Pyu people had been absorbed by another group, the Bamar, who ruled a powerful kingdom with its capital at Bagan. The Bagan Kingdom slowly developed in strength until it was able to defeat the Mon at Thaton in 1057, and unite all of Myanmar under one king for the first time in history. The Bagan ruled until 1289, when their capital was captured by the Mongols.

After the fall of Bagan, Myanmar was divided into several rival states, including Ava and Bago.

Myanmar unified once more in 1527 under the Toungoo Dynasty, which ruled central Myanmar from 1486 to 1599. Toungoo, however, tried to conquer more territory than its revenues could sustain, and it soon lost its grip on several neighboring areas. The state collapsed entirely in 1752, partly at the instigation of French colonial officials.

The period between 1759 and 1824 saw Myanmar at the apex of its power under the Konbaung Dynasty. From its new capital at Yangon (Rangoon), the Konbaung kingdom conquered Thailand, bits of southern China, as well as Manipur, Arakan, and Assam, India. This incursion into India brought unwelcome British attention, however.

The First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826) saw Britain and Siam band together to defeat Myanmar. Myanmar lost some of its recent conquests, but was basically unscathed. However, the British soon began to covet Myanmar's rich resources, and initiated the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852. The British took control of southern Burma at that time, and added the rest of the country to its Indian sphere after the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885.

Although Burma produced a lot of wealth under British colonial rule, almost all of the benefit went to British officials and their imported Indian underlings. 
Burmese nationalists allied themselves with Japan during World War II, and Burma gained its independence from Britain in 1948.

Under British colonial rule, Burma was the richest country in Southeast Asia, awash in rubies, oil, and valuable timber.

Buddhism in Burma (also known as Myanmar) is predominantly of the Theravada tradition, practised by 89% of the country's population. It is the most religious Buddhist country in terms of the proportion of monks in the population and proportion of income spent on religion. Adherents are most likely found among the dominant ethnic Bamar (or Burmans), Shan, Rakhine (Arakanese), Mon, Karen, and Chinese who are well integrated into Burmese society. Monks, collectively known as the Sangha, are venerated members of Burmese society. Among many ethnic groups in Myanmar, including the Bamar and Shan, Theravada Buddhism is practiced in conjunction with nat worship, which involves the placation of spirits who can intercede in worldly affairs.

Itinerary

ITINIRERY:

Day 1: Arrive Yangon. Overnight Hotel. Met on arrival and transfer to Hotel. After refreshments, sightseeing tour to Sule Pagoda, Independence Monument, Old Colonial Buildings, Yangon Harbour & Jetty, Chauk HtatGyi (Reclining Buddha), Maha Wizaya Pagoda and Shwe Dagon Pagoda.

 

The Sule Pagoda was made the center of Yangon by Lt. Alexander Fraser of the Bengal Engineers soon after the British occupation in the middle of the 19th century. Around the chedi are ten bronze bells of various sizes and ages with inscriptions recording their donors' names and the dates of their dedication. The Sule Pagoda is an excellent landmark. It is said to be over 2,000 years old and contains a hair given by the Buddha to two Burmese merchants. Located on a roundabout in downtown Yangon. The golden pagoda is unusual in that its octagonal shape continues right up to the bell and inverted bowl. It is surrounded by small shops and all the familiar non-religious services such as of astrologists, palmists, and so on.

 

The country was annexed by the British in 1824 and like other colonized countries, visible in its architectural landscape are remnants of colonial rule that are a now a huge tourist draw. The Independence Monument was built to signify Myanmar's independence.

 

The Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda is famous for its huge image of Reclining Buddha, built in 1966 though it suffered some damage due to the climate over the years. In 1957 it was demolished and rebuilt to this structure in 1966. It measures 65 meters and is housed in an iron structure with corrugated iron sheets roof of six layers. Hence it is generally referred to as the six-tiered pagodas. The heavy cost of this construction was entirely donated by the people.

 

The Maha Wizaya Pagoda was built on the Dhammarakkhita (Guardian of the Law) Hill which faces the famous Shwedagon Pagoda to commemorate the first successful convening of all sects of the Buddhist monastic order, under one supervisory body. An image of the Buddha which was a royal gift from the King and Queen of Nepal is enshrined within the pagoda. All manner of traditional decorative art executed by modern artists and artisans grace this shrine and testify to the preservation of a national culture developed through the ages.

 

The Shwedagon is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese with relics of the past four Buddhas enshrined within, namely the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Ko??gamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight strands of hair of Gautama, the historical Buddha. According to historical record, the Shwedagon Pagoda is over 2500 years old since BC 588, the oldest Pagoda and the most ancient historical Pagoda in Burma and in the world. The Spire of the Pagoda is made up of a thick quote of gold and has lots and lots of diamonds, rubies and precious gems embedded in it. The lighting effect in the Shwedagon Stupa gives it a different feel altogether. It is also said that the entire city of Myanmar has contributed gold to the pagoda so that it can be maintained well.

 

DAY 2: Fly and drive from Yangon to Nyaung Shwe to Heho and Pindaya. Overnight hotel.

 

Morning flight from Yangon to Heho. On arrival, drive to Pindaya via AungBan and Kyone with sight seeing on the way. Pindaya Cave Excursion & Sightseeing. Pindaya is well known for its extensive limestone caves. The caves are set deep in the hillsides and there stands at the entrance, a 15 meter high Shwe U Min Pagoda. Visit Danu & TaungYoe Hill Tribes Villages.

 

Aungban is a market town in the Shan State, on the road from Heho to Pindaya.

 

Pindaya Caves The Pindaya caves are in a limestone ridge overlooking the Pindaya lake and are known for its interior which contains over 8,000 images of Buddha images made from alabaster, teak, marble, brick, lacquer and cement which have been put there over centuries and arranged in such a way as to form a labyrinth throughout the various cave chambers.

 

Some of the older statues and images in the cave have inscriptions dating to the late 18th century, or early Konbaung period, and the earliest one dates from 1773. No other place in Burma displays such a range of style, not only in the images, but also in the ornamental thrones and reredos which surround the images.

 

After visiting Pindaya continue our drive to NyaungShwe via AungBan and Heho.

 

Shwe U Min pagoda, a cave which contains more than 8000 Buddhas.

 

Heho is a small town in Kalaw Township, the primary air gateway to tourist areas such as Inle Lake.

 

DAY 3: Full day sightseeing tour of Inle Lake and other interesting sites. Overnight Hotel.

 

Sight seeing tour of Inle Lake on a Boat. Visit Inle Lake Market & Floating Market followed by Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Floating Gardens & Plantation, Bird Watching ; Cheroot Making, Silversmith, Cotton & Silk Hand Weaving; Nga Phe Chaung Monastery (Jumping Cats) ; Inle Lake Sun Set View.

 

Inle Lake, one of the main tourist attractions in Myanmar, is located in the heart of Shan State which shares borders with Thai & Laos. It is famous for its scenic beauty and the unique leg rowing of the Inthas, the native lake dwellers. High hills rim the lake on both sides. The lakeshore and lake islands bear 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by the Intha people. The lake is full of floating vegetations and houses.

 

Although not a large lake, there are a number of endemic species. Over twenty species of snails and nine species of fish are found nowhere else in the world. Some of these, like the silver-blue scaleless Sawbwa barb (Sawbwa resplendens), the Crossbanded dwarf danio (Microrasbora erythromicron), and Inle danio (Inlecypris auropurpurea), are of minor commercial importance for the aquarium trade. It hosts the 20,000 brown and black head migratory seagulls in November, December and January.

 

The people of Inle Lake (called Intha), some 70,000 of them, live in four cities bordering the lake, in numerous small villages along the lake's shores, and on the lake itself. The population consists predominantly of Intha, with a mix of other Shan, Taungyo, Pa-O (Taungthu), Danu, Kayah, Danaw and Bamar ethnicities. Most are devout Buddhists, and live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo on stilts; they are largely self-sufficient farmers.

 

The floating water hyacinth are the major products of this region. Many hand made products such as bags, baskets are made from water hyacinth. The Inthars also make their living by fishing. The silk dresses and clothes of Inle are popular among local and foreign visitors. The Inle also produce silverware.

 

The main pagoda in the Inle lake is called the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. The pagoda houses five small gilded images of Buddha, which have been covered in gold leaf to the point that their original forms cannot be seen. The gold-leaf application to such excess is relatively recent. Although the monastery is open to all for veneration, only men are permitted to place gold leaf on the images. Another part of the ritual for pilgrims is to place a small robe or thingan around the images, and to take the robe back to their houses and place it on their own altar as a token of respect for the Buddha and his teachings.

 

Surrounding the Pagoda, and in the basement are shops selling traditional Shan and Burmese goods.

 

The Ngaphechaung Monastery is located on Inle Lake, on the way to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. This is an attractive wooden monastery built on stilts over the lake at the end of the 1850s. Aside from its collection of Buddhas, the monastery may be of interest to visit because its monks have taught a few of the many cats living with them to jump through hoops. The monastery is also known for a collection of old Myanmar's Buddha images from different areas that are worth seeing. Nga Phe Chaug is the biggest and oldest monastery on the Inle Lake and is worth visiting for its historical purposes and architecture as well as its cats.

 

DAY 4: Drive and fly to Mandalay via Heho. Overnight Hotel.

 

Drive to Heho from Nyaung Shwe and fly to Mandalay. Met on arrival, transfer to Hotel followed by the sight seeing tour of TataOo – Paleik (Snake Temple), Mandalay Royal Palace, Tapestry Work Shop Excursion, Kuthodaw Pagoda Atu-Ma-Shi Monastery, KyaukTawGyi Pagoda, Mandalay Hill ( 230 metres in elevation, commands a panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside. The legend has it that the Buddha, on his visit, had made a prophecy that a great city would be founded at the foot of the hill).

 

30 years ago two pythons waltzed into a heretofore obscure paya on the outskirts of town and made the main altar their home. They're still there at the TataOo – Paleik (Snake Temple) bigger and more benign than ever. Each day they get a bath, and visitors join the attendants in the bathing process. Nearby are some splendid, serene ruins as well. The Mandalay Palace is the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy. The palace was constructed, between 1857 and 1859 as part of King Mindon's founding of new royal capital city of Mandalay. The plan of Mandalay Palace largely follows the traditional Burmese palace design, inside a walled fort surrounded by a moat. The palace itself is at the centre of the citadel and faces east.

 

The Mandalay Palace was the primary royal residence of King Mindon and King Thibaw, the last two kings of the country. The palace ceased being on 28 November 1885 when the British entered the palace and captured the royal family, officially ending the Third Anglo-Burmese War. The British looted the palace, and turned the palace compound into Fort Dufferin. Throughout the British colonial era, the palace was seen by the Burmese as the primary symbol sovereignty and identity. Much of the palace compound was burned down during World War II by allied bombing; only the royal mint and the watch tower survived. A replica of the palace was rebuilt in the 1990s with some modern materials. The 89 main halls were re-built with reference to the original photographs, pictures, palm-leaf manuscripts with reference to the original photographs, pictures, palm leaf manuscripts about the royal apartments and the miniature model of the royal palace.

 

Today, the Mandalay Palace is a primary symbol of Mandalay and a major tourist destination.

 

The Kuthodaw Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa, located in Mandalay, that contains the world's largest book. In the grounds of the pagoda are 729 kyauksa gu or stone-inscription caves, each containing a marble slab inscribed on both sides with a page of text from the Tipitaka (Buddhist holy book), the entire Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. This first complete version of the Tipitaka was assembled by a team of 2,400 monks during the Fifth Buddhist Synod in 1872. Buddhist scholars then inscribed the text onto the tablets. Originally, the letters were highlighted in gold.

 

Shwenandaw Monastery was built by King Mindon in the 19th century. It is known for its teak carvings of Buddhist myths, which adorn its walls and roofs. The monastery is built in the traditional Burmese architectural style. King Mindon Min died in this building. King Thibaw Min, son of King Mindon moved this building from the palace to its current location. Shwenandaw Monastery is the single remaining major structure of the original wooden Royal Palace today. Inside the monastery, there are 10 jataka scenes taken from the Buddha's life. These are still in a very good condition.

 

At one time this building was part of the palace complex and was used as an apartment by King Mindon and his chief queen, and it was in this building that he died. After Mindon's death, King Thibaw Min had the building dismantled and reassembled on its present site in 1880 as a monastery. It is said that Thibaw used the building for meditation, and the couch on which he sat can still be seen.

 

The Atumashi Monastery was built in 1857 by King Mindon, two years after the capital was moved to Mandalay. The original monastery structure was built using teak, but burned down in 1890 after a fire in the city destroyed both the structure, and the 30 ft tall Buddha image, as well as complete sets of the Tipitaka. In 1996, the Burmese archaeological department reconstructed the monastery.

 

Mandalay Hill (is a 240 metre (790 ft) hill that is located to the northeast of the city centre of Mandalay in Burma. The city took its name from the hill. Mandalay Hill is known for its abundance of pagodas and monasteries, and has been a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists for nearly two centuries. At the top of the hill is the Sutaungpyei (literally wish-fulfilling) Pagoda. A panoramic view of Mandalay from the top of Mandalay Hill alone makes it worthwhile to attempt a climb up its stairways. The story is told that when Gautama Buddha visited the hill he stretched out his hand to the plain below and prophesied that a great city and religious center would be founded at its base. The hill consequently contains a numerous pagodas and religious shires, including the Peshawar relics of three bones of the Buddha given by King Ashoka (now exhibited elsewhere). Approximately half-way up the hill the Shweyattaw Temple houses a large golden standing statue of the Buddha commissioned by King Mindon; it is in a dramatic pose with his right hand pointing toward the Royal Palace and the city below. His faithful disciple, Ananda, prays attentively at his right side. Along the way one finds many souvenir stalls, religious material and astrologers.

 

DAY 5: Full day sight seeing tour of Mandalay, visiting Amarapura, Sagaing and Inwa. Overnight Hotel.

 

Start sight seeing tour visiting Maha Muni Buddha (Exalted Saint Buddha Image heavily gilded with gold leaf brought over from Arakan State in 1784), Gold Leaf Making & Stone Sculpture Excursion. After this, visit 3 Ancient Capitals:

 

Amarapura(City of Immortal): some 11 kms south of Mandalay is the town of Amarapura which was the capital of Konbaung Dynasty, Sagaing: Once an ancient capital, Sagaing lies 21 km south west of Mandalay, beside the Ayarwaddy River and the Ancient city of Inwa. U Pein Wooden Bridge (World Longest Teak Bridge) at Taung Thaman Inn(Lake) ; Maha Ganda Yone Monastery Excursion at 10:00 AM ; Tanpa Wadi Handicraft Village (Bronze Casting & Wood Carving) & Cotton & Silk Hand Weaving Excursion. Kaung Mu Daw Pagoda (Built in 1636) ; Silver Smith & Pottery Works Excursion Sagaing Hills ; Oo Min Thonse Pagoda ; Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda Cross Myit Ngay River by Boat. Inwa Excursion & Sightseeing by Horse Cart : Bagaya Wooden Monastery ; Panoramic View of Inwa from Nan Myint Watch Tower ; Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery ; Mae Nu Oak Kyaung Sun Set View from Shwe Kyet Yet.

 

Legend says that Gautama Buddha once went to teach the people of Dhannavati, what is now thw northern Rakhine region of Myanmar. The King, Chandra-Suriya, requested him to leave an image of himself for the benefit of the people. While Buddha meditated under a Bodhi tree, Sakka, a King of the gods, created a life like image of great beauty. Buddha,pleased with the image, decided to imbue it with his spiritual essence.

 

According to ancient tradition,only five likenesses of the Buddha were made during his lifetime: two in India, teo in paradise and the fifth is the Maha Muni or Great Sage. Little is known of the Maha Muni’s travels over the next 1500 years. It was stolen and moved around by various kings. At other times it lay buried beneath an old temple in a forgotten jungle. The iage was brought to Mandalay in 1784 by King Bodawpaya and placed within the specially built Payagi Pagoda. Ever since it is the ost venerated Buddha image in all of Burma. The statue is 3.8 meters tall. Originally cast in metal, it is now coated with a two inch thick layer of gold leaf. Over time, so much gold leaf has been applied that the figure has developed an irregular outline.

 

Amarapura, town lies on the left bank of the Irrawaddy River. Founded by King Bodawpaya in 1783 as his new capital, it supplanted Ava, 6 miles (10 km) southwest. King Tharrawaddy (reigned 1837–46) restored Amarapura as the capital, but an earthquake in 1839 destroyed much of the city, which was finally abandoned for Mandalay by King Mindon in the late 1850s. Ruined walls indicate that Amarapura, called the “City of Immortals,” was laid out as a square. Long known for its silk weaving, Amarapura is the site of a weaving school. The town’s long-established bronze industry is famous for Buddha figures, bells, and gongs. Tile, pottery, and baskets are also manufactured.

 

Inwa features a laccquerware factory, where the monk's handsome black begging bowls are made. In common with all Burmese crafts the ancient methods prevail, it is said that ' the supreme test of excellence of a begging bowl of laccquer is when the sides will bend in till they touch without cracking'', the construction being of woven horsehair rather than cheaper bamboo wickerwork.

 

Another place to visit is the U Bain bridge (U Pain Bridge), possibly one of the longest wooden bridges in the world. The bridge was built by U Bain (U Pain), who was the lord of the villages on the other side of Taungthaman Lake. Historical accounts said the main reason U Bain built the bridge was that he wanted quick access for his villagers to the Capital Amarapura so that he could stage a coup! Nobody knows if this is true, but he was later procecuted with the same charges and was sentenced to death. Although he died, his name lives on as the builder of the longest wooden bridge in Myanmar, and the name of the bridge officially becomes U Bain Bridge (U Pain Bridge). The bridge still serves as the most important communication link for the people of his villages.

 

The serving line for the 1,500 monks at the Mahagandayone monastery at Amarapura is where one can observe the lives and the education of monks.

 

Sagaing, the division's capital, is home to many historical stupas and today is known as a religious centre, with dozens of Buddhists nunneries and monasteries as well as an important monastic hospital.

 

Near the city limits are the Kaunghmudaw Pagodas, a large whitewashed structure whose name means 'work of great merit', and Tupayon Pagoda, known for its unusual style; the stupa is made up of three circular stores, each ringed by arched niches.

 

The division is home to the huge Mingun bell, the largest ringing bell in the would, as well as Inn-wa Bridge, a British-engneered 16 span bridge that dates to 1934, as was the only structure crossing the Ayeyarwaddy River until 1998.

 

Kaung Hmu Daw Pagoda is one of the famous pagodas in Sagaing. It was built by King Tharlon in 1636 A.D. It is strange because of its hemispherical shape which is not similar with other pagodas which are bell shaped.

 

The U-min-thonze Pagoda was made in commemoration of the 45 years Buddha spent as time to give sermons, inside were placed 45 statues of Buddha.

 

The most impressive Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda nearby was constructed in 1312. The view of Sagaing from Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin and its approach is marvellous.

 

Since its construction, it is known to have the earliest 'soon" offered by celestial beings before any by human beings. It is reputed to grant 14 wishes such as being free of killing by others, getting promotions, and having an insight into things and event.

 

The Bagaya Kyaung Monastery is made entirely of teak on the island of Inwa (Ava) and dates back to 1834. It continues to serve its purpose today, with the monks operating a small school for local children.

 

The Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery is a brick-and-stucco monastery built by the Queen Meh Nu in 1818.Monasteries were normally built of wood and were prone to destruction by fire. Although this monastery was built in imitation of the traditional wooden style, its masonry construction has ensured its survival.

 

DAY 6: Morning sight seeing tour of Mandalay (Mingun) and evening fly to Bagan. Overnight Hotel.

 

Morning drive to Kway Soon Harbour to see the life style and excursion followed by Mingun Boat Trip: From Mandalay(East Bank of Ayarwaddy to Mingun(West Bank of Ayarwaddy) by Boat; Mingun Excursion & Sightseeing: Pa Hto Daw Gyi (Unfinished Magnificent Temple); Mingun Bell (World Biggest Ringing Bell); World Biggest Lions (Ancient Ruined); Mya Thein Tan Pagoda

 

Return to Mandalay and transfer to Airport for the flight to Bagan. Meet and transfer to the Hotel.

 

A boat trip to Mingun is an extremely pleasant experience with plenty of life on the river to see and one can enjoy the most memorable sunset scene by strolling along the Ayarwaddy (Irrawaddy) river bank.

 

Prior to conquering the throne, King Bodawpaya took refuge at Mingun, where he made a vow that he would implement four religious projects once he became a king. These projects were to build a pagoda, a bell, a lake and two statues of lions to safeguard the pagoda. This pagoda was never completed and was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1838. The Mingun Bell is the heaviest functioning bell in the world. The weight of the bell is 55,555 viss (90,718 kilograms or 199,999 pounds). The bell is uncracked and in good ringing condition. Casting of the bell started in 1808 and was finished by 1810. The Mingun Bell was knocked off its supports as a result of a large earthquake on 23 March 1839. It was resuspended by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in March 1896 using screw jacks and levers using funds from public subscription.

 

The Mya Thein Tan Pagoda was built in Mingun of Sagaing Division by King Sinbyunai.

 

The wall was meant to signify the solar system. The seven terraces like the waves was to signify the seven rivers and seven mountains the seventh terrace was to signify the peak of Ugando Mountain and at the centre was a brick structure encircled by a five-tier structure and it conveyed the sign of the Mount Meru.

 

DAY 7: Full day sightseeing tour of Bagan and fly back to Yangon. Overnight Hotel.

 

Full day Excursion at Bagan Archaeological Zone which includes Shwe Zigon Pagoda, Wet Gyi Inn Gu Byauk Gyi Temple; Kyan Sittha Oo Min (Cave like temple with fresco painting); Hti Lo Min Lo Temple; Ananda Temple, Ananda Oak Kyaung with colourful fresco painting; That Byin Nyu temple, Sula Muni Temple; Gawdaw Palin Temple; Dhama Yan Gyi Temple; Manuha Temple; MyinKaBar Gu Byauk Gyi Temple (Fresco Painting); Mya Zedi Chedi & Stone Slab; Lawka Nanda Chedi; Lacquerware Work Shop; Dhama YaZiKa Chedi; Paya Thone Zu; Tayot Pyay Phaya.

 

After the sightseeing tour, drive to airport to catch a flight back to Yangon. Met on arrival and transfer to hotel.

 

The Bagan Archaeological Zone is the formal name used to designate the historic region of the ancient Kingdom of Bagan. It has been suggested that perhaps over 13,000 temples, pagodas and other religious structures originally were built in this 26 sq. mile (42 sq. k.) area during the height of the kingdom between the 11th and 13th centuries. The region clearly stands with Angkor and Borobudur among the most significant archeological sites of Southeast Asia and indeed of the world. It has recently (2002) been nominated for World Heritage Site status.

 

There are over 2200 monuments still extant on the Bagan plain, and there remain an equal number of ruins—mere piles of bricks or other evidences of past structures. The overwhelming “Inventory of Monuments at Pagan” by Pierre Pichard surveyed 2834 monuments. Earthquakes, floods and invasions destroyed much—especially the upper reaches of the temples and stupas But many of the existing monuments have been so remodeled, up-dated, repainted and ‘beautified’ over the years that much of their original character has been lost.

 

The Shwezigon Pagoda was built as the most important reliquary shrine in Bagan, a centre of prayer and reflection for the new Theravada faith King Anawarahta had established in Bagan.

 

It is said that the Shwezigon was built to enshrine one of the four replicas of the Buddha tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and it was to mark the northern edge of the city. In addition to ranking as one of the oldest pagodas in Bagan, Shwezigon is known as the site where the 37 pre-Buddhist nats (the spirits) were first officially endorsed by the Myanmar monarchy. Images of the 37 nats can be seen in a shed to the southeast of the platform. At the eastern end of the shed stands an original stone statue of Thagyamin (Sakra), king of the nats and a direct appropriation of the Hindu god Indra. This is the oldest known free-standing Thagyamin figure in Myanmar. Flanked by tigers representing her forest home, another small shrine in the south-eastern corner of the grounds is reserved for Mae Wunna, the guardian nat of medicinal roots and herbs, near the region.

 

The Gubyaukgyi is noted for the paintings of Jataka scenes which adorn its interior walls. Each scene is painted on a small, square panel, which is neatly delineated. The legends in Myanmar give the title of each Jataka and mention the main character depicted in the scene. Unfortunately, a great many of the panels were removed and taken to England by the British explorer Dr. Thomann.Myanmar in 1 Hti-lo-min-lo Temple in the Burmese style was built, like Mahabodhi and the Wetkyi-in Kubyauk-gyi, by King Nadaungmya (1211-1230).

 

Ananda temple is considered to be one of the most surviving masterpiece of the Mon architecture. Also known as the finest, largest, best preserved and most revered of the Bagan temples. During the 1975 earthquake, the temple suffered considerable damage but has been totally restored.

 

It is said to have been built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha, this perfectly proportioned temple heralds the stylistic end of the Early Bagan period and the beginning of the Middle period. There is a legend saying that there were 8 monks who arrived one day to the palace begging for alms. They told the king that once, they had lived in the Nandamula Cave temple in the Himalayas. The King was fascinated by the tales and invited the monks to return to his palace. The monks with their meditative powers they showed the king the mythical landscape of the place. King Kyanzittha was overwhelmed by the sight and had a desire for building a temple which would be cool inside in the middle of the Bagan plains. After the construction of the temple, the king executed the architects just to make the style of the temple so unique.

 

The structure of Ananda temple is that of a simple corridor temple. The base and the terraces are decorated with 554 glazed tiles showing jataka scenes (life stories of the Buddha) thought to be derived from Mon texts. Huge carved teak doors separate interior halls from cross passages on all four sides.

 

Ananda temple festival falls on the full moon of Pyatho (usually between December and January, according to the Lunar Calendar). The festival attracts thousands of locals from near and far. Up to a thousand monks chant day and night during the three days of the festival.

 

Located just inside the southeastern corner of the old city wall, Thatbyinnyu is Bagan’s tallest temple at almost 200 ft. and represents a transition from the Mon period to a new architectural style that would soon be followed at the Sulamani, the Gawdawpalin and at Htilominlo. Constructed during one of the high points of Bagan political power and during a period of rededication to Theravada Buddhism and religious scholarship, it reflected that era’s innovative architectural and artistic creativity. Paul Strachan, the important Bagan scholar, calls Thatbyinnyu “an expression of the self-confident Burmese spirit of nationhood.”

 

DAY 8: Morning sightseeing tour od Yangon and afternoon drive to the International airport for final departure.

 

Morning sight seeing tour of White Elephants & KyaukTawGyi Pagoda; Mae Lamu Pagoda; Sway Daw Zedi; Kaba Aye Pagoda; Gems, Jewelries, Handicrafts & Souvenirs Shop Visit Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott Market).

 

After this drive to international airport for the final departure.

 

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda is also known as Lawka Chanthar Arbayar Laba Muni Buddha Image. The Lawka Chanthar Arbayar Laba Muni Buddha Image carved from one piece of white marble rock was done in year 2000 CE, which is flawless and of high quality.

 

Within the walking distance from Minn Dhamma Hill, there is an Elephant house where the three white elephants is kept. In many asian countries including Myanmar, a white elephant is regarded as a supreme royal ornament.

 

Mae Lamu means Maid of the Mangrove. There was a legendary saying about this Pagoda.

 

It was said that a hermit once came upon a mangrove tree bearing an abnormally large bud which he took to his retreat and it later produced a girl child. The child was nurtured and brought up by the hermit who named her Mae Lamu on account of her being born of a mangrove fruit. She grew up into a beautiful woman and Sakka (or the Indra), monarch of the celestial divinities, fell in love with her. After asking for her hand in marriage from the hermit, the lord of the celestial gods fathered a child who, it was said eventually became King of Okkalapa, the name by which Yangon had been referred to in the remote past. Representations of the Maid of the Mangrove and her heavenly suitor can be seen at the southwest corner of the Shwedagon Pagoda.

 

Kaba Aye Pagoda was built in 1952 by U Nu in preparation for the Sixth Buddhist Council that he held from 1954-1956. The Maha Pasana Guha (great cave) was built simultaneously with the Kaba Aye Pagoda and is located in the same complex. The cave is a replica of the Satta Panni cave, located in India, where the first Buddhist Synod was convened. The six entrances of The Maha Pasana Cave symbolize the Sixth Great Synod.

 

Bogyoke Aung San Market,inaugurated in 1926, is the most popular market of Yangon and Myanmars as well.A wide range of Myanmar souvenirs are available at this market attracting every foreign visitor guests also visit the market to buy trendy clothes and assessories of gold and gems. Myanmar ruby, sapphire, jade and pearl are famous for their superior quality in the international market. The market is also known for its colonial architecture and cobble streets.

Trip Fact

Trip Snapshot

  • Duration : 8 Days
  • Trek Duration : 8 Days
  • Activity : Buddhists Circuit
  • Destination : Nepal

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