Myanmar (Burma) - widely known as The Golden Land - offers a country full of smiling people and thousands of golden pagodas. With a land area of 676,577 sq.km., Myanmar is the largest country in the South - East Asian peninsula. It shares borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand and has a 2,832 km. long western coastline along the India Ocean. Agricultural and mineral wealth; teak wood forests and precious gem mines make Myanmar a precious treasure to behold. Beyond these natural resources the people of Myanmar share a unique blend of serenity and charm with a lively sense of humor. Visitors are welcomed with the special style of Myanmar hospitality - caring for all is a Buddhist tradition all Myanmar's are happy to share.
Yangon, the capital city, is the main gateway into Myanmar. Evergreen and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes - Yangon has earned the name of The Garden City of the East. Towering over the city is the glittering World - famous Shwedagon Pagoda - believed to have been built more than 2,500 years ago - the essence of Myanmar and a place that never fails to enchant.
The origin of Shwedagon Pagoda materialized in brilliant epoch in Buddhist history over 2,500 years ago. In India, Prince Siddhartha had just attained Buddhahood when he was visited by two brothers Tapussa and Bhallika, merchants from Myanmar who offered a gift of honey cakes. In return, the Buddha personally removed eight hairs from his head and gave these to the two brothers for enshrinement in their native town of Okkalapa which is now the City of Yangon., On their return , the two brothers presented the Buddha s hairs to the King of Okkalapa who erected the pagoda and enshrined the eight hairs together with the relics of previous three Buddhas. The original height of the pagoda was 66 feet. From the 14th century onward successive monarchs in Myanmar rebuilt or regilded it until Shwedagon reached its present height of 326 feet. It has ten unique different sections, namely, the base, the three terraces called Pyisayan, the Khaung Laung so called because of its bell shaped, the Baung Yit with distinct embossed bands, the Thabeik (Monk s Food Bowl) the Kya-lan an ornamental lotus flower, the Hngnet Pyaw-Bu (Banana Bud), the Hti (Umbrella), the Hngetmana, the flag shape vane which revolves to the direction of wind, and the Seinbu (Diamond Bud). The Hti, the Hngetmana and The Seinbu are decorated enlaid with 3,154 gold bells, 79,569 diamonds and other precious stones.
The first exhibition rooms on the ground floor contain some calligraphy and stone carvings. A large room beyond, dominated by four massive gold and red pillars, has become the home of the Lion Throne. When King Theebaw was exiled to Calcutta in 1886 the throne was housed in the Calcutta Museum. It was returned once more in 1948, when Burma was granted her independence from the British. Around the edge of the room are other smaller thrones. For instance the Elephant Throne, made of sago wood, was used to announce the elevation - or demotion - of the palace officials. Upstairs on the first floor is a room of prehistoric relics and another showing pieces from Bagan. The regalia from the last two kings of Myanmar and some of the royal jewellery, which is quite beautiful, is also on this first floor. A large model of the Mandalay Palace and some of the court clothes from the reign of King Theebaw and Queen Supayalat also are on that floor. Many of the exhibits are fascinating, but the ambiance of the building is such that it does not invite a lengthy browse - which the objects do deserve.
The seat of the last Myanmar monarchy, Mandalay is situated in the central region 668 km north of Yangon. A city rich in monasteries and pagodas, Mandalay also has ample resources of Myanmar art and architecture of the 19th Century. Mandalay is the home of Myanmar s traditional artisans - wood and stone carvers, silversmiths, silk and cotton weavers and handicrafts including puppet, tapestry and gold leaf products.
It is a beautiful wooden building decorated with exquisite carvings. It was originally the living quarters of King Mindon within the Mandalay Palace. After his death, his son King Theebaw moved the building out of the palace compound to its present site. A lucky move, as the rest of the palace building were destroyed by incendiary bombs during World War II.
Kuthodaw Pagoda This pagoda was built in 1857 by King Mindon. Its distinctive feature is the collection of 729 stone slabs on which are inscribed the whole of the Buddhist scriptures. These stone slab inscriptions are said to be the World s Biggest Book.BAGAN Capital of the first Myanmar Empire, Bagan holds one of the richest archaeological sites in the world. Framed on two sides by the Irrawaddy River, the site covers more than 25 sq.miles. At Bagan no two monument are the same - and visiting these wondrous temples and pagodas is an awe - inspiring experience not to be forgotten. Life in Bagan is still peaceful and tranquil - and traditionally travellers use locally hired bicycles or horse - drawn carts (whose drivers have great knowledge of the area) to see the sights. A short drive into the countryside from Bagan brings the visitor to Mt. Popa home to Myanmar's nats' (Spirits). A climb to the summit for the panoramic view and to pay homage to the nat shrines only takes a short 30 minutes. Mt. Popa is surrounded by forests and flora and offers a wonderful change in scenery from the dusty plains of nearby Bagan.
The Shwezigon holds a special place among Burmese pagodas for two reasons. It was the first major monument built in the Burmese (As distinct from Mon) style following the countrys conversion to Theravada Buddhism and was the first pagoda to have nat images allowed within its precinct a decision that was fundamental to the rapid adoption of Theravada Buddhism during Anawrahtas reign. The Shwezigon is said to contain important relics of Gautama Buddha, two bones and the copy of a tooth.
The Ananda Temple was completed in 1091, soon after the Shwezigon. Of the Four Great Temples of Bagan to which local folklore attributes various superlative qualities (Gawdawpalin, the most elegant, Ananda, the most beautiful, Dhammayangyi, the most massive and Thatbimmya, the highest). Ananda holds the greatest fascination. Distinguished from the rest by its whitewash and shaped like a perfect Greek cross, it rises in graduated terraces to a height of some 52 meters (170 feet).
At the southern end of Myinkaba village is the Manuha Temple complex. When in 1057 King Anawrahta returned victorious to Pagan, it was here that the captive King Manuha was brought to live. By 1059 Manuha had built himself this two storey square white temple and through it conveyed a melancholy message. The three Buddhas are uncomfortably large for their enclosures, thus illustrating his captivity and mental stress. The facial expressions of the two seated images are grim. That of the one reclining Buddha, on the other hand, is smiling and serene. He feces north and is therefore on the verge of Nirvana and release from the transitory World.
This is said to be the first monument built by King Anawrahta after his conquest of Thaton and the Mons in 1057. Probably because of this, the pagoda displays a strong Mon influence. Each of the four corners of the building is guarded by Ganesh, the patron saint of the Mons. It is thought that some sacred hairs of Gautama Buddha, which Anawrahta carried as booty from Thaton, are enshrined here.
SHAN: INLE LAKE
This is an Inland lake located in the Southern Shan State. It is World famous for its lake-dwellers, leg-rowers and floating gardens.
Phaung Daw U Pagoda
The lake as richly endowed with pagodas and monasteries as anywhere else in Myanmar. In particular, the Phaung Daw U Pagoda is regarded (with the Shwedagon in Yangon and the Shwezigon in Bagan) as one of the country's three principal shrines. Along the corridor leading to the pagoda are a variety of stalls, some selling Shan handicrafts, others various antiques and knick - knacks. This pagoda houses five small Buddha images whose original forms have long since been lost under years of plastering with gold leaf by pilgrims. Once a year, at the September full moon, there is an elaborate festival during which the Buddha images are rowed around the lake to visit outlying pagodas. They are conveyed in a magnificent copy of a royal barge (Karaweik) shaped like the golden swan (Symbol of Buddhist Royalty). The minut Buddhas sit under white royal umbrellas. Nowaday's only four of the Buddhas make this regal progress. Some years ago the barge capsized with all five aboard, their distraught guardians were only able to recover four images but, on returning to the pagoda, they found the fifth miraculously in its normal position. It has not been moved since and now guards the pagoda during the others annual outing.
Mon and Kayin States
From the main area of this region. In the Mon state there is the famous Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda.
Popularlu known as the Golden Rock Pagoda an a very popular pilgrimage destination, Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda stands on a boulder precariously perched on the edge of a hill over 1,100 km above sea level. Tje base camp at Kyaikjtiyo is located 160 km by road from Yangon. From the base camp, pilgrims trek 11 km up hill to the pagoda platform. A narrow motor road also winds up to a point about 1.6 km from Pagoda.
The best beach resort in Myanmar, also once known as the "Naples of the East", is located on the northern coast in Rakhine State. Nagpali is an unpolluted, unspoiled beach stretching over 3 km with crystal clear blue sea and clean white sands fringed with coconut groves as far as your eyes can see. This unspoiled beach is 35 minutes flight from Yangon or 14 hour drive along the narrow winding road over the Rakhine Yoma (Mountain Range) after crossing the Ayarwaddy River at Pyay (Prome).
Nearby fishing villages are also interesting places for visitors to the beach. If you are eager to have a look at natural and primitive scenery, it is where you can witness how fishermen set and draw drift nets and how their family supports them in the workplace. Ngapali Beach opens from October to May.
Puta - O
Are you asking me where the romance adventure to visit in this area? Puta-O District, Kachin State, area avails itself the uniqueness and naturalness among varied ecosystems of Myanmar. Situated in the north of Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin state, can reach only by air route. The city surrounded with snow peaked mountains and the weather is cold around the year. Flora and Fauna can be seen in the forest around Puta-O.
The choice of 3 distinct seasons to choose from:
October - November: Harvest time with brilliant green colors and perfect visibility. Nights are extremely pleasant at this time of the year.
December - February: Beautiful crisp spring like days and cold starry nights. This is the best time for viewing the snow-capped mountains that surround Puta-O, as well as cozy evenings in the main lodge around the fire.
March - April: A return to warmer days and nights and the first occasional showers before the monsoon hits in late May.
Mrauk U was once, one of the most powerful kingdom in history. The Rakhine King "Min Saw Mon" founded Mrauk U in 1433. Mrauk U was a leading trade city during its time, and abundant networks of canals allowed small and large vessels to go by. It traded with Middle East, Asia, Holland, Portugal and Spain. The Mrauk U dynasty lasted for about 352 years.
Mrauk U was also known as "Myohaung" meaning the ancient city. In this ancient city, today, there are about 70 known and named ruined pagodas, whereas there are many more remaining unknown.