Yangon, the capital, also considered as the Garden City of the East” is the gateway to Myanmar. adorned with idyllic lakes, shady parks and green tropical vegetation, Yangon is at once friendly and welcoming. Yangon is also a growing bustling business centre.
Yangonï¿½s not-tobe-missed attraction is the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda atop Singuttara Hill, considered by many as the greatest and most impressive Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar today. Originally 8.2 metres tall, now it stands close to 100 metres in all its glory through successive renovations by Myanmar monarchs. The Pagoda, more than 2500 years old, enshrines strands of Buddhaï¿½s hair and other holy relics. Colourfully dressed worshippers offering flowers, food, candles and water can be constantly seen circling the shrine daily. A sunset visit promises a spectacular sight, when the gold spire gleams and glitters in the light of the setting sun.
Maha Wizira Pagoda
The Maha Wizaya Pagoda was built on the Dhammarakkhita (Guardian of the Law) Hill which faces the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. in 1980 to commemorate the first successful convening of all sects of the Buddhist monastic order. under one supervisory body. It was built from funds donated by the people across the whole country. 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.
Sitting surrealistically on the Royal Lake is the Karaweik. With its double bow depicting the mythological karaweik, a water bird from Indian pre-history, and a many tiered spire carried on top, the Karaweik represents a fine work of traditional Myanmar architecture. Spend an unforgettable evening at this luxurious dining spot, enjoying an outstanding dance performance accompanied by classical Myanmar music.
The Mandalay Regalia-the majestic Lion Throne of the last Myanmar King takes centre stage among the museumï¿½s collection of historical, ethnological and archaeological exhibits, tracing the early history of this famed ancient region.
Largest and liveliest of Yangonï¿½s markets, the Bogyoke Market is worth a wander with its wide and diverse range of goods from groceries to handicrafts, and antiques to the latest wear. It is a haven for souvenir hunters – one can find here the most exotic gifts or keepsakes and mementos for a lifetime.
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.
Shwe Nandaw Kyaung
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.
Founded in 849 AD it became the capital of the first unified Kingdom and the first multinational Union of Myanmar in 1044 AD. 42 square kilometres of open land, sited on the east bank of the famed Ayeyarwady River, covered by 5,000 mysterious and magnificent stupas and hollow pagodas of a bygone era, make Pagan one of the wonders of the world. Here lies a great monument to one of Myanmar’s brilliant eras. Today it is a rich and premier archaeological site that ofters a rich heritage from a twelfth century empire. A panoramic view of this land at sunset will leave you with a lingering sense of awe and wonder.
Buddhist monuments in Myanmar fall into 2 basic styles – solid pagodas and hollow pagodas. Solid pagodas are solid conical structures with a central treasure vault below. Hollow pagodas are build with a hollow chamber in the centre where pilgrims can enter to worship or meditate
This golden stupa, the most important pagoda in Pagan, was built in 1057 AD as a centre of prayer and reflection by King Anawrahta, the founder of the first Pagan dynasty. The Shwezigon is the prototype for all later Nyanmar stupas.
Mon in its architecture, this jewel of a hollow pagoda is not only Pagan’s most famous but also one of the few active hollow pagodas. Built in 1091 AD by King Kyansittha, it contains statues of Buddha and stone sculptures of exquisite workmanship representing various scenes in Buddha’s life.
This small but well laid out museum is run by the Archaeological Department. On display here are ancient artifacts found within Pagan. Whether mural paintings, plaster carvings or bas-relief, many are of high artistic quality – marvellous relics of Pagan’s glory.
Mount Popa, a 1,500-metre extinct volcano, about 60 kilometres south east of Pagan is home of Myanmar’s “nats”- a collection of 37 supernatural beings. Twice yearly, thousands of people will gather here to attend the nats festival to honour these spirits.