Mandalay is the last capital of the kings of Myanmar and the second largest city in the country after Yangon. This is a world famous center of Buddhism, it has more than 700 beautiful pagodas. Main attractions: Amarapura is an ancient city of the royal dynasty, where the Mahagandayon monastery is now located. Among the unique relics of the city are the world’s largest “Book in stone” on 729 marble slabs, the Mahamuni Temple, a unique Buddha statue, during the construction of which, according to legend, Shakyamuni Buddha was personally present (and probably gave valuable recommendations). According to populationmonster, Mandalay is one of the largest cities in Myanmar.
The easiest way to get around the city is by taxi, but it is worth remembering that there is no fixed price when getting into a car, the number of passengers is taken into account, and you will have to pay a separate fee for each.
Cuisine and restaurants
You can eat your fill for 2000 MMK, but this does not apply to the center and tourist places. A snack with tea and pies costs 500 MMK. You should definitely try vanudu (condensed milk with fruit) and avoid the specific (both in taste and smell) gnoc mam sauce made from fermented fish trifles. However, the gnoc-mama has loyal fans.
Of the alcoholic drinks, the local Grand Myanmar whiskey, Myanmar rum have a pleasant taste, the 15-year-old rum in a clay bottle, which is carefully placed in an embroidered bag, is especially curious. Also unusual is Herbal rum with anti-malarial effect, which is sold in large Dagon Star stores in Yangon.
The price of whiskey and rum is from $ 1.5 per bottle in a remote place and up to $ 2.5-3 in city shops. Myanmar is recommended for beer.
Restaurant Zandro (address: 27th Road, 75th x 76th (Bet)) is simple but tastefully furnished. The cost of a hot dish is 1.5-2.5 USD, the local delicacy “Red Crab” – 3.5 USD, fruit juice – 0.4-0.5 USD, beer – 1.2 USD. In downtown there is an interesting institution Lashio Lay Restaurant, which is located at the intersection of 84 and 23 streets, next to the Classic Hotel, where Shan cuisine is presented. Inexpensive, and most importantly – insanely delicious.
Entertainment and attractions of Mandalay
In the center of the city rises the Palace, guarded by the Mandalay fort with towers, twelve gates. The palace is built according to the same principles as Angkor (Cambodia) and Borobudur (Indonesia), and I must say, the sacred place for construction was chosen scrupulously and methodically: a lot of ancient astrologers worked hard. 89 main halls amaze with the luxury of scenery, exquisite decoration, which contemporaries managed to recreate from photographs, paintings, manuscripts preserved on palm leaves.
At the northeast corner of the Kremlin, there is the famous Kutodav Paya complex with 729 stone pavilions, each of which has one “page”. From all the pages of the grandiose stone book, the full text of the Tripitaka in the Pali language is formed. It takes 450 days continuously to read such a huge book. Nearby stands another pagoda, Sandamuni, which attracts tourists and believers with stone slabs with Buddhist texts. The graceful Shwenandaw Monastery with all its appearance recalls the former grandeur of the huge luxurious palace of King Mindon Ming.
Mandalay Hill is easy to find, it is located northeast of the city center, towering over squat houses with light-winged pagodas, ready to break into the sky from any gust of wind. This is a stunning complex of structures, protected from the bustling world, firstly, by 2000 steps, to be more precise 1,729, and secondly, by a wall.
But the lazy can use the escalator, elevator or drive by bus and car.
Local monks poetically call the hill “the place where the Ten Burmese Flowers bloom.” And the lesser feat that a pilgrim can undertake is to climb the main staircase on foot. At the level of 425 steps, by the way, there is a nice viewing platform. This is not the last stop on the way to the top: somewhere you can wander through the picturesque halls, in some secluded corners you can buy Buddhist souvenirs, but you are unlikely to miss the hermit’s hall at U Kanti, where relics from Peshawar are kept. These are three fragments of the bone of Buddha Gautama, delivered to Mandalay 2000 years ago.
Maha Muni Pagoda
Another pride of the second capital of Burma is the Mahar Myat Muni Pagoda, which keeps a four-meter golden Buddha statue in its depths. It is always crowded here: there are many who want to touch the statue. The image of the Buddha was brought from the conquered Arakan kingdom complete with six bronze statues: the elephant Airavata, three mythical lions and two warriors in the form of Shiva.
Many believers are convinced that these statues have healing properties, for the effect it is enough to rub the sore spot against an elephant, lions or warriors – whoever is more loved.
5 things to do in Mandalay
- Purchase at the entrance to the Mahamuni Pagoda small gold plates to rub into the Buddha statue along with many other worshipers. This happens during the morning ritual of washing the Face of Buddha Maha Muni, protected by a special glass.
- Admire 42 species of rare orchids grown in Pyin-O-Lwin National Botanical Gardens near Mandalay.
- Share a meal with the monks of the Mahagandhayon monastery in the town of Amarapura.
- Wander through Mandalay’s Chinatown at night to visit the lively night bazaar.
- Buy souvenirs in local marble and tin workshops, where the most amazing product is cicars for spiers made of gilded tin leaves, creating a melodic fairy-tale chime in the wind.
Another grandiose architectural project is Atumashichaun or the Incomparable Monastery. It is a stunning wooden building on a high platform with a wide ceremonial staircase. Inside the temple there is a large lacquer sculpture of the Buddha, fragments of the sacred texts of Theravada Buddhism and other unique values.
You should definitely visit the Mustache Brothers evening show, which includes elements of national dance, drama, and satire. There are also two puppet theaters in Mandalay: Mandalay Marionettes and Mintha Theater. The first is old and known all over the world, the second is somewhat younger, with a cozy chamber atmosphere. Local puppeteers are real virtuosos, the puppets are extraordinarily beautiful and graceful, all the action is accompanied by playing musical instruments, elements of Burmese dances are skillfully woven into the performance.
Local monks poetically call Mandalay Hill the place where the “Ten Burmese Flowers” bloom. And the lesser feat that a pilgrim can undertake is to climb the main staircase on foot.
Suburbs of Manadalay
Firstly, it is worth looking into the city of Amarapura, which was the capital of the state in the 18th century, and is now famous for the tombs of two famous kings – Bigyado and Bodapaya. A quiet provincial corner, located on the shores of Lake Taungtaman. Naturally, tourists are first of all curious about the Mahagandhayon Monastery, during a tour of which you can study in detail the modern life of the monks of Burma. Most recently, the restored Mandalay Fortress and the Royal Palace opened their doors. A string of tourists stretches to the bridge in Amarapura, whose wooden lace is thrown across the lake. Built in 1850, this is the longest teak bridge in the world (its length is 1.2 km).
Inva and Sagain
If you drive 21 km from Mandalay, you can visit the city of Inwa, which was once called Ava. Its pearl is the Grand Bargaya Monastery, decorated with outdoor arabesques, carvings, figures of birds and animals. No less exotic ancient capital of Myanmar is the city of Sagain, one of the most popular places for meditation, where experienced mentors will guide you spiritually into the world of harmony and self-knowledge.
If you move 11 km up from Mandalay along the Irrawaddy River, the road will certainly lead to the city of Mingun, where the world-famous Mingun stupa is located, which is still unfinished and thus has not reached the heights planned by the architect. There is also a small copy of the Mingun Stupa – Pondawya Pagoda. But the main attraction of Mingun is a giant bronze bell weighing 90 tons, which is the largest “ringing” bell on Earth. Seven undulating terraces, symbolizing the seven mountain ranges surrounding the sacred Mount Meru, wrap around the magical Hsinbyume Pagoda, a wonderfully romantic and peaceful scene.