Departures

FULL-DAY TRIP To MINGUN From Mandalay

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Photo - Sithu Lwin

Now is a time with an abundant supply of holidays in Myanmar. For those who travel to Mandalay, there is a day-time characterful trip to Mingun village from the cultural heritage city.  

Mingun has several attractions – primarily, a massive, unfinished stupa Mingun Pahtodawgyi, the world’s largest ringing Mingun Bell and a white stupa Myatheindan Pagoda.   

The Sagaing Region’s historic Mingun area can be reached from Mandalay by car, or by motorbike, or by motorboat.   

Taking an overland trip, travellers pass through Sagaing mountain ridges that offer scenes of monasteries, and along the Ayeyarwady River’s banks that afford a cool breeze.

On the trip, there is a popular food item, known as Khotaung rice noodle (looking like spaghetti), which is aptly described by Khotaung village. Having dishes of Khotaung noodle on way to Mingun looks like trying a taste of locally-preferred food.   

Apart from viewing the traditions of villages along the banks of the River, travellers could look on a spirulina production site.   

By motorboat, travellers take a standard boat or a chartered one at the Mayangyan jetty to leave for Mingun.

Onboard, travellers can see commerce activities by boats in the River and hear of the boats’ engines beating out loud quacking rhythms.   

Another chance for those who go by boat is to enjoy seeing Ayeyarwady dolphin swim attractions. The mammals come around there from October to May in a year.   

An inland water transport association facilitates the travel of motorboats.   

In this peak season to travel in Myanmar, both foreigners and local travellers are so bustled here, says the association. Most foreign travellers go by boat.   

The first scene upon arrival at the Mingun village is the Mingun Pahtodawgyi and nearby damaged parts of mythical lion images.   

The construction of the unfinished brick-base pagoda, which was planned to be 152 meters high, was initiated by King Bodaw Phyar of Myanmar’s Konbaung Dynasty in 1790. However, it was built up to 60 meters, enshrining 1,500 golden Buddha images and 2,534 images made of silver, in addition to 37,000 relics.   

According to its historical records, the first plinth of the pagoda tumbled down due to an earthquake in 1838. And also, the images of a lion and a garuda (mythical king of birds) in the front were damaged.   

Bodaw Phyar the King also built Mingun Bell the largest in the world, by assigning one of his ministers to supervise making the 90-tonne Bell wrought from bronze and erecting it. The bell is 8.45m high, the diameter of its orifice, 5.10m and the thickness, 0.5m. As a variety of other minerals like gold and silver were cast into making the bell, many people believe it brings good lucks.   

Taking a walk for a few minutes to the north of the Bell is Myatheindan Pagoda, also known as Hsinphyumé Pagoda. It was built on a 98-m-diameter plinth in a height of 98m. The stupa, built in 1816 and restored in 1874, is known as a replica of Sula Mani pagoda, which pre-exists in the celestial abode of devas.   

The design of the pagoda is much different from most pagodas in Myanmar, with its seven wave-like terraces built over and over representing seven rivers and seven mountains. Its style is quite attractive to a wider range of foreign travellers.   

What’s more, there is a museum, which houses the belongings of the late Venerable Mingun Sayadaw. Travellers are also offered to explore art galleries and small enterprises of making traditional handcrafts.   

Another attraction is a big monastery built with 240 massive wood columns in the village of Thonesé-pay. It is known for its traditional handcraft making.   

Suggested: Exploring the sights in Mingun and enjoying the panoramic views at the Sagaing Hill over pagodas and monasteries is a must.   

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Sithu Lwin is a freelance writer and a photographer, having worked for the Myanmar Consolidated Media Co. Ltd for 15 years. He has ever written many news articles and travel features, a lot of stories on government business and urban affairs for the company's flagship newspaper The Myanmar Times. As well, Sithu Lwin wrote about food and drugs for both English and Myanmar editions of the paper. On the sideline, he worked as a photographer for Now magazine, another publication of the media company, coming up with photographs of models' activities and art events for it. Based in Mandalay, he was also a staff member with the distribution unit of the company, before he jumped on the bandwagon of its editorial team in early 2011.

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