Last capital of the Burmese kingdom, Mandalay is the second largest city of Myanmar and is situated in the hot and dry central dry region of the country. This most important cultural centre is surrounded by other ancient royal capitals- Sagaing, Ava (Inwa) and Amarapura which are also very interesting destinations according to their long lasting historical and religious importance mile stones. In Mandalay visitors can watch traditional handicrafts being made, such as silk and cotton weaving, bronze forges, marble and wood carving. Mandalay also houses the most revered Buddha statue in the whole of Myanmar, the Maha Myat Muni. Another interesting point is the 230meter high Mandalay Hill, from where one has a scenic view of Mandalay and surroundings, the most beautiful in the time of sunset.
Founded by Bodawpaya in 1783, ancient capital Amarapura is situated 11km south of Mandalay. It owes its fame especially to the weaving of magnificent cotton and silk clothing, 1.2km long U Bein Bridge with 984 teak posts and the Mahagandhayon Monastery, home to several thousand young monks live and study.
Inwa (Ava) was the capital of a Burmese kingdom for nearly 400 years. After crossing the Myitnge river in ferry boats, the major tour highlights riding on horse-drawn carts are the Nanmyin tower, the 27m-high masonry leaning watch tower; and the Bagaya monastery, completely built of teakwood and supported by 267 teak posts (the largest measures 18m in height and 2.7m in circumference).
Mingun, located about 11km upriver from Mandalay, on the opposite bank of the Ayeyarwady, is accessible by river. It's just long enough a trip to give you a pleasant feel for the river and a glimpse of river life. The village itself is a very friendly place and worth exploring. It is noted for the Mingun Paya, a huge unfinished pagoda, Myatheindan Pagoda and a gigantic 90-ton bell, claimed to be the largest hung, uncracked bell in the world.
The first capital of the Shan Kingdom around 1315 lies 21km south-west of Mandalay on the right bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. It owes its importance above all to the famous Sagaing Hills scattered with a number of temples and stupas. The view on the western bank of the Ayeyarwaddy provide a very picturesque spectacle from across the river. The remains of a fort by the river bank, the silversmiths in the nearby village of Ywahtaung are interesting and worth a visit.
Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymio)
This charming town is located 80Km north east of Myandalay, in the Shan hills at 1070 meters. This once British hill station is famous for its cool weather, eclectic architecture colonial buildings, natural parks, water falls and caves. Major tourist interest includes Peik Chin Myaung cave, which houses many Buddha images and National Kandawgyi Botanical Garden founded in 1915.
This lovely town set beside the Chindwin River, 140-km northwest of Mandalay. It is the access to the magnificent and impressive Thahboddhay Pagoda complex with its 845 stupas, 7.350 statues and almost 600.000 sacred images. Another attraction is the cave temples of Po Win Taung which can be reached by crossing Ayeyarwaddy River in ferry boats and 45min drive, the caves are famous for their Buddha statues, mural paintings and woodcarvings.
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