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Historical Archives - Take me to Myanmar
 
Mandlay Hill
Mandalay Palace
Mahar Muni

 The proclaimed cultural capital of Myanmar, Mandalay lays at the foot of the stunningly infamous Mandalay Hill. Studded with glorious ancient pagodas, today the hill overlooks a bustling commercial hub and acts as the perfect gateway for many adventures. Founded in 1857 by King Mindon, sadly the region was heavily bombed during World War II, meaning the surprisingly youthful city has undergone a lot of reconstruction over the years. Nevertheless, the city is easily explored by bicycle and holds plenty of sites of cultural interest including Mandalay Palace andMahamuni Paya as well as being home to a thriving local teahouse scene.

Perhaps the most perfect reason to visit Mandalay is to use it as a local base for exploring surrounding, lesser known regions such as the ancient imperial capital of Inwa, the infamous unfinished stupa of Mingun and not forgetting, the collection of unmissable pagodas and monasteries at Sagaing.

Mandalay undoubtedly offers an authentic bustling city life experience in one of Myanmar’s largest cities, with a wonderful balance of historic and cultural sites within easy reach and brimming with opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Mandalay Hill

It’s not hard to see why Mandalay Hill is so loved by locals and tourists alike. The perfect place to get a real feel for the city below, by far the best time to embark on the 45-minute climb is to reach the peak by sunset. There are several routes to the top and each one is lined with shrines, pagodas and refreshment stalls, so allow enough time to enjoy the whole experience. For the less active, it is possible to drive most the way up the hill and leave your car in the car park. When you reach the top, be prepared to be rewarded with breath taking views across the city and the stunning Sutaungpyi Paya where young monks like to gather to practice their English language. Truly the perfect way to experience a glorious Burmese sunset and an enjoyable explorative hike.

Mandalay Palace

Built as a residence for King Mindon, the original palace complex unfortunately burnt to the ground towards the end of World War II. As a result, the palace was completely reconstructed in 1990. With its impressive palace walls, watch tower and moat, Mandalay Palace is well worth a visit for a journey back into Burmese history.

Mahamuni Paya

This enormous gold leaved Buddha statue measures in at a remarkable 3.8 metres tall making it one of the most important Buddhist sites in Mandalay. Inside the complex lays an array of notable shrines, pagodas and Hindu figures making it the ideal place for an immersive afternoon stroll.

Inwa

20 kilometres outside of Mandalay is one of Myanmar’s most sacred ancient capitals. Lovingly referred to by locals as the ‘Kingdom of Ava’, since 1364, Inwa has been named the royal capital on 4 separate occasions. The perfect place to escape the bustle of Mandalay city, today Inwa offers visitors a relaxed and charming atmosphere dotted with ancient, crumbling ruins of stupas, pagodas and temples, best explored by bicycle.

                   

11 kilometres up the Ayeyarwady River from Mandalay lays Mingun, home to what should have been the largest temple in the world. Accessible by boat, taxi or motorcycle, the journey to Mingun is simply spectacular. This quaint riverside village would perhaps be lesser known today if it weren’t for the construction of Mingun Paya that started back in 1790. Legend has it, the temple was not completed due to a claim by an astrologer that King Bodawpaya would die upon its completion. With this in mind, the King ordered for a giant bell to be erected instead. Today, the site of Mingun Paya, with its giant foundations and half-built appearance remains utterly impressive and the Mingun Bell has successfully proclaimed itself as the world’s heaviest ringing bell several times over the years.

Sagaing

Just 20 kms down the Irrawaddy River and sitting on the opposite bank to Mandalay you will find a region of scenic grassy hills littered with ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples. Sagaing offers the perfect escape from city life and the opportunity to breathe some fresh air. Often compared to a small scale, elevated Bagan, Sagaing is home to Mandalay’s most impressive and most sacred landscapes consisting of hundreds of glittering stupas to explore by foot. Perhaps the best place to take in Sagaing’s breath taking views is from Sagaing Hill, home to the region’s most impressive pagoda which dates way back to 1312,  Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda. Home to over 6,000 monks, Sagaing promises both an educational and visually dazzling day away from the city.

Food and Drink

Some of Myanmar’s best teahouses can be enjoyed in Mandalay. Its thriving teahouse scene means you can find one on most street corners. Myanmar tea is mostly served milky, sweet and piping hot and can be enjoyed with simple snacks such as noodle and rice dishes. Often dishes contain meat, although due to elements of rich Buddhist culture in Mandalay, vegetarians are well catered for.

Indulge in Mandalay’s many street food vendors and food markets for an authentic experience and to mingle with Mandalay’s notoriously friendly locals.

For the ultimate magical adventure, join us 290 kilometres south-west of Mandalay in the ancient city of Bagan. This breath-taking UNESCO world heritage site boasts an impressive 67 square kilometres of picturesque plains, littered with the ruins of almost 2,500 ancient, sacred temples. Quickly becoming Myanmar’s most visited attraction, the archaeological zone of Bagan straddles the scenic Irrawaddy river and was once the country’s most powerful capital of an ancient kingdom. With endless opportunities for exciting trekking and infinite exploration, Bagan most definitely should be on every adventure seekers bucket list.

Offering incredible, fairy-tale like landscapes, Bagan is beautiful any time of day, but the region is at its best at both sunrise and sunset and offers adventure seekers the perfect hiking and cycling opportunities. The memory seekers amongst us will surely not be able to resist enjoying these spectacular scenes from the comfort of a hot air balloon, meandering between temples as the sun comes up, or relishing magical sunset views from the top of a dazzling temple.

During the height of the Kingdom’s power from the 11th century through to the 13th century, it is widely believed that over 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries were built. Despite several earthquakes threatening to completely demolish the sacred site, many still exist today.

The most immersive part of town is bar far Old Bagan. The name given to the site where the original village once stood, this area remains the core of Bagan’s mystical beauty. Bursting with ruins to explore, city walls to trek and a reconstructed palace, Old Bagan is at the heart of the main archaeological zone and is best explored by bicycle or e-bike.

New Bagan on the other hand, is a bustling new village constructed in 1990 when the government moved villagers from Old Bagan. Today it is home to busy colourful markets and an authentic, local way of life as well as a handful of guest houses to cater for visitors.

Besides the thousands of temples to explore in Bagan, another must-do exploration whilst you’re in the area is Mount Popa, a sacred volcano peaking at 1518m above sea level. An exciting venture to Mount Popa can prove a much-needed respite from Bagan’s extreme heat, especially during the summertime.

Don’t forget your walking boots and get ready for the ultimate trekking adventure in one of Myanmar’s most breath taking regions.

Old Bagan

At the heart of Bagan’s archaeological zone and sitting right on the banks of the Irrawaddy river, Old Bagan is truly one of South East Asia’s best kept secrets. Until recently, the area has seen very little tourism, but slowly this ancient gem is opening up and promising to dazzle beyond belief.

The main temple sites lie within Old Bagan. Every single one is beautiful in its own way, and the entire site makes for endless exploration of both ruins and preserved temples. Be sure not to miss the best-preserved temple in the area, Ananda Pashto. Standing proud at 170 feet high, the stunning Ananda Pahto is one of Bagan’s most notable temples. Slightly taller at 197 feet is Gawdawpalin Pahto, towering over endless plains and thousands of ruins, this impressive temple can be spotted from afar. Don’t miss Bagan’s only remaining Hindu temple, Nathlaung Kyaung. This incredible temple holds a fascinating story and is one not to be missed.

New Bagan

Even though New Bagan was constructed as recently as 1990, it’s endless dusty plains and busy streets still hold an ancient history not to be overlooked. One example is the beautiful terracotta temple of Lawkananda Paya. Although there is more going on in New Bagan and the atmosphere may seem livelier, it is important to note that the area is quiet, authentic and does not have a party atmosphere like some of its South East Asian counterparts. Enjoy the local restaurants on the north side of New Bagan opposite the Eight-Faces Paya and watch it light up at night fall.

Mount Popa

Inner Bagan can become extremely hot, especially during the height of the summer. Indeed, on these days, an afternoon trip to one of the regions most sacred sites, Mount Popa may prove a welcome retreat. Although the extinct volcano peaks at an impressive 1518 metres above sea level, temple Taungkalat proves to be much more accessible. Believed to be home to 37 nats, pilgrims and visitors alike make the somewhat tiring ascent of around 800 steps to be greeted by impressive carvings of ancient gods. But once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded by not only fresh, mountain air, but spectacular views across the surrounding plains making a trip to Mount Popa an ideal afternoon adventure trip from Bagan.

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