Explore the Shwe Dagon Pagoda

According to legend, the pagoda (also referred to as the good Dagon Pagoda and therefore the Golden Pagoda) was constructed around 2,600 years ago under the guidance of two brothers who had met the Lord Buddha and received eight of the Buddha’s hairs during a golden casket. Upon returning to Burma (present-day Myanmar), they found Singuttara Hill, where relics of other Buddhas were enshrined. There, consistent with the story, they opened the golden casket that held the Buddha’s hairs and supernatural events immediately started happening — from gems raining to trees bursting with flowers and fruit — and from there, the pagoda sprang. consistent with historians and archaeologists, however, the story is a smaller amount fanciful: the pagoda was built by the Mon people between the 6th and 10th centuries AD.

After initial completion, the pagoda slowly deteriorated until King Binnya U, within the 14th century, rebuilt it to a height of around 60 feet. A century later, Queen Binnya Thau raised its height to around 130 feet and terraced Capitol Hill it stands on (during an illness, she had her bed placed in order that she could check out the stupa’s gilded dome). within the next few centuries, variety of earthquakes damaged the pagoda but, after a very severe earthquake in 1768, King Hsinbyushin raised it to its current height: 325 feet.

When you arrive, the primary thing to note is that the pagoda’s most notable feature – its golden hue. In fact, the gold you see is that the real deal. Genuine gold plates cover the stupa and its base which are riveted to a brick structure underneath. A fun fact is that monarchs and citizens alike have donated gold to the pagoda since its construction.If you gaze slightly higher, above the bottom , there’s a a terraced area only accessible to monks. Above that you’re going to find architectural features within the shapes of these traditionally found in Burmese pagodas: a turban band, inverted alms bowl, lotus petals, and banana bud. Then another level above that’s the umbrella crown and vane, a feature that’s also common to pagodas, but none other is sort of as lavish. The crown is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and a couple of ,317 rubies, and on the very top of the pagoda rests a 76-carat diamond bud.

After admiring the temple itself, you cannot miss on exploring the pagoda’s grounds. The grounds feature statues of the primary four Buddhas (Kakusandha, Konāgamana, Kassapa, and Gautama). Inside, relics from each — the walking staff of Kakusandha, the filter of Konāgamana, a bit of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the top of Gautama — are said to be enshrined. These relics make it the foremost sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar — and one that’s not only visited routinely by tourists, but also by practicing Buddhists within the area, who enter this magnificent building with humble, selfless commitment to be their best selves and practice generosity, kindness, and compassion for all.

Bagan: Trip of A Lifetime

In 1996 Burma nominated eight properties for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. As of yet, none are accepted and remain on UNESCO’s tentative list. Burma is considering UNESCO’s suggested improvements, working towards building heritage sites founded upon stable conservation and preservation strategies. The controversial site Bagan Archaeological Area and Monuments has entered scholarly discourse, provoking strong reactions from archaeological experts.Burma’s tragic political history has seen years of repression, brutal military leadership and tortured civilians. Countries across the world vocalized their disdain for Burma’s appalling human rights and corrupt junta by disassociating themselves politically and economically. Anti-tourism campaigns and laws to discourage investment were firmly implemented until recently.

The past years have seen Burma making slow yet continuous political progress. Its first election was held in 2010 and, despite reports that the election was shrouded in criminality , it’s a positive signifier for future proceedings. The politician and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi was released in 2010, following a combined sentence of fifteen years under confinement . These progressions are noticed by countries on a world wide scale, especially since President Obama visited Burma in 2012, an equivalent year the EU lifted certain sanctions.Bagan is brimming with historic and cultural wealth. With over three thousand Buddhist temples, monasteries, stupas and monuments compacted into one area, it’s home to the very best density of Buddhist architecture anywhere within the world. The temples present a cross-section of Burma’s history, culture and politics as construction has spanned a millennium. especially , Ananda Temple and Sulamani Temple are significant, dating back to 1105 and 1183 AD respectively. They tell an architectural and historical story, presenting a glimpse into the religious and social context during which they were built. Temple arches signify the advanced intelligence of the traditional Burmese kingdom and therefore the unique murals adorning interior walls document their artistic skill. However, not all of those temples have such an upscale historical and visual impact.

thanks to the Buddhist belief that there exists great religious value in building temples, Bagan has been expanding until officials halted building add 2010 to specialise in preserving the prevailing temples. Burmese authorities have themselves constructed numerous temples and pagodas, one especially dedicated to General Than Shwe.
In addition to construction, the military have built on top of old structures, or reconstructed them completely. Scholars, especially Don Stadtner, have disputed the military’s interferences, deeming them to possess damaged Bagan’s archaeological integrity. Stadtner opposes Bagan’s classification for UNESCO World Heritage Site status saying: ‘It would be telling the planet that basic archaeological principles not only don’t mean anything but could also be rewarded by this type of baseless, conjectural restorations.’

Like Stadtner, many oppose the appliance believing Burma doesn’t need to be linked to UNESCO thanks to the detrimental impact it might wear the organization’s respectability. UNESCO wouldn’t simply be lowering its standards, but reinforcing that the irresponsible tampering of such sacred archaeological sites can have positive outcomes.Stadtner’s opinion is counterbalanced by Naing Win, Bagan’s head archeologist, who regards the reports as unfairly exaggerated and detached from the reality . Naing Win claims his team strictly followed the architectural forms and detailing recorded from original temples. Therefore, with the exception aged , there should be no architectural differences between the first and reconstructed Buddhist temples.Despite its abundance of jewel , gas , minerals and oil, Burma remains one among the poorest countries in Asia; a results of the years of military corruption. wanting to increase their tourism economy, Bagan’s classification will inevitably usher in foreign investments. This increased tourism could, however, see the country’s unnervingly tender economical framework vulnerable to commercialization, and lots of worry about the longer term of Burma during this economic context.

Furthermore, experts are concerned that increased tourism might be detrimental to the Buddhist structures themselves, especially if Bagan doesn’t have the resources or knowledge to support growing numbers of tourists . These positive and negative outcomes got to be taken into consideration before the archaeological site are often UNESCO-classified. The country’s plight for Bagan’s recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has continued since their initial application in 1996, being rejected thanks to poor management strategies and legal frameworks. In 2012 UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova paid Bagan a visit to debate how relations between the organization and Burma will progress. within the future, UNESCO experts are going to be working alongside Bagan’s archaeological team to reinforce their conservation and restoration skills, also as establishing a mural conservation training course. These tentative steps are a positive start line within the creation of a viable economic and managerial framework ready to support Bagan’s cultural history.

The Kuthodaw Pagoda

The Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay in upper Myanmar is usually mentioned because the “Worldʼs Biggest Book”(Ludu Daw Ahmar 1980: 5). 2 Consisting of 729 marble stelae3 cover a 5.2 hectare site the Pagoda may be a large, coherent and historically unique inscriptional complex that preserves an authorised mid-nineteenth century Myanmar recension of the Palicanon, the first scriptures of Theravāda Buddhism. Mandalay was founded in pre-colonial upper Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 1857 and therefore the Kuthodaw complex is one among the cityʼs earliest structures. At the centre of this complex is that the monument popularly referred to as the Kuthodaw Pagoda, the“Pagoda of Royal Merit”[Fig. 1].

The 729 stelae are arranged in seven concentric squares round the pagoda. Each of those stelae varies in size̶a typical one being 1.3 metres high, a metre wide, with around 75 lines inscribed on each side̶and is housed during a separate open-sided mini-pagoda around three metres tall (Grönbold 2005: 35) [Figs. 2 & 3]. The version of the Buddhist scriptures on these stelae is that the results of an outsized editing project ̶a recension̶commissioned within the mid-nineteenth century by Myanmarʼs penultimate king Mindon (reigned 1853-1878) who, to fulfil during a ll|one amongst|one in every of”> one among the religious duties of Myanmar kings to preserve Buddhist teachings in a changing world, initiated two ventures regarding the Buddhist scriptures [Fig. 4]. the primary began in 1857 when he commissioned the copying of a replacement set of the canon onto palm leaves (Ludu Daw Ahmar 1980: 15-22).

As an outcome of that project the marble stelae at the Kuthodaw were inscribed with a version of the edited text between 1860 and 1868 (Ludu Daw Ahmar 1980: 50-52). Mindonʼs second initiative was to revive the first Theravāda tradition of holding a council (san 4 gīti) for the recitation and verification of the words of Buddha . The“Fifth Buddhist Council”was held in 1871, with 2,400 monks orally reciting the whole canon. Following this, revisions were made to the stelae. The Fifth Council version remained the quality one until the“Sixth Buddhist Council”was held within the mid-twentieth century (1954-1956) in Yangon (however, not all Buddhist traditions accept all of those councils). In 1855, before his first initiative, King Mindon had presented an entire set of the scriptures as then constituted (in fine gilded royal manuscripts) to Arthur Phayre, who visited Myanmar as a British representative (Herbert 1989: 64). That set preserves a preKuthodaw version of the text and has lain within the British Library since 1886 only occasionally used.

King Mindonʼs carving of the whole Pali canon on large marble stelae at the Kuthodaw Pagoda was unprecedented within the Theravāda Buddhist world, and subsequently proved to be highly influential, being the inspiration for the later production of marble stelae editions of the Pali canon, or parts of it, at several sites elsewhere in Myanmar and acting as a model for the carving of non-canonical Buddhist texts at yet other sites within the country (Bollée 1968: 495; Ludu Daw Ahmar 1980: 42-45). 4 the primary example of this was undoubtedly the Sandamuni Pagoda site directly adjacent to the Kuthodaw Pagoda which preserves the Pali commentaries and sub-commentaries carved on 1774 marble stelae at the instigation of U Khanti (1868-1949) in 1913. it’s highly likely that Mindon undertook the above projects as a part of his plan to consolidate Buddhism because the state religion and ensure its centrality to the identity of the Myanmar people within the face of the threat of British territorial ambitions in Myanmar̶the British had annexed lower Myanmar in 1852, some eight years before the start of labor on the Kuthodaw marble stelae and clearly had territorial ambitions over upper Myanmar also .

U Bein Bridge

U Bein is the longest teakwood bridge in the world and is attached to the town’s history.Stretching around 1200m through the Taungthaman Lake in the ancient of Amarapura, Mandalay, U Bein bridge is considered to be the longest teakwood bridge in the world. Additionally, it was erected since the mid-1800s, which also made it the oldest teakwood bridge that still exists.

Amarapura is one of the former capital of Myanmar for 74 years from 1783 to 1857. It now remains to be an ancient city in Mandalay region. After that, King Midon decided to relocate the capital and move it to Mandalay. Interestingly, the materials used to build up the bridge were achieved from the Inwa Palace during the transition time. The bridge was built from 1000 pillars and thousands of pallets. All materials were completely wood.

Another interesting fact about the bridge is its name. It was named after the mayor of Amarapura, U Bein back to that day. When the King Midon moved the capital, U Bein was the person who came up with the idea of making use of the unused wooden sticks of the palace to erect the bridge. At the time, the engineers did not have such modern method to measure but did that by counting their footsteps.When the mayor U Bein constructed the bridge, he wanted this bridge would help his villagers reduce the time commuting between the 2 banks of the river. Since that time, U Bein Bridge has been a best friend with the locals of Amarapura. For around 150 years, it has help children go to school; villagers reach the markets; and fishermen in catching fishes. Undeniable, the bridge plays an integral part and makes their life much easier.

Time after time, as the U Bein Bridge started to gain popularity among travelers all over the world. It also helps a hand in raising the income of local people because it made the villagers get involved in doing tourism. A large number of local people in Amarapura have earned their living by serving the travelers visiting the bridge every day. They are able to sell souvenirs, food and drinks and fishermen do the short boat trips to take travelers to visit the lake.Nowadays, a huge number of travelers come to witness the longest and oldest teakwood in Mandalay. There is no wonder why the bridge has been loved; it looks beautiful from all angles and in its own rustic and elegant way. U Bein bridge looks the most impressive in the sunset. In order to admire the bridge at sunset, you can sit down on the grassland below the bridge; order drinks from local vendors; and wait for the sun coming down slowly. In another way, for photography lovers, you can ask a fisherman to take you on their boat during the sunset to capture the best moments of U Bein bridge during sunset. It will be more appealing.

Surprisingly, sunset on U Bein bridge looks differently by each person and from day to day. Some can catch the fierce color of orange and some can catch the vivid color of red or purple. U Bein bridge at sunset becomes the symbol of not only Mandalay but of Myanmar by this reason. During the dry season, the water level on Taungthaman Lake is low, making the U Bein bridge looks as tall as a thin man. Once the rainy season comes, water level raises up to the planks of the bridge. It is a good idea to avoid the rainy season in Mandalay to visit U Bein bridge because you will be likely to catch a rain in the day.

As the above part has stated, the best time in the day to visit U Bein bridge is at sunset time, when the bridge looks the most striking. However, taking a stroll on U Bein bridge in the early morning is also another brilliant way to enjoy the fullest beauty of it. Coming here at sunrise, you can have the opportunity to watch the town slowly wake up; and local people busily going to work and commuting through the bridge. You will definitely be able to capture plenty of simple and unique moments of the daily life at this time of the day.