Mandalay Travel Guide – pagodas and monasteries in the town

Shweinbin Monastery

This beautiful monastery is located in the south west corner of Mandalay City, on 89th street between 38th and 39th streets. Called simply by the locals as “Teak Monastery”, it was built in 1895 by a Chinese jade merchant U Set Shwin. It has very fine 19th century wood carvings and wood arts depicting the life of Gautama Buddha. These are carved in beautiful detailed carvings. The whole building is on a classical teak foundation with long teak poles. The monastery is very peaceful and rarely crowded. The surrounding of the monastery is also like a small peaceful village of monks. Famous Ma Soe Yein Monastery is just across the bridge to the south of Shweinbin Monastery.

Setkyathiha Pagoda

This pagoda is situated at the corner of 31st Street and 85th Street. Built by King Thibaw in 1884, the main interest of the pagoda is the large 5 meter tall seated bronze image of Gautama Buddha. Originally cast by King Bagyidaw of Ava in 1823 in Ava (Inwa, the old capital just near Mandalay on the bank of Irrawaddy / Ayeyarwaddy River), the image was subsequently moved to Amarapura in 1849 (when the Burmese capital was moved to Amarapura), and finally moved to Mandalay in 1884 just before the third and last Anglo-Burmese War of 1885. The pagoda was damaged during the World War II and repaired after the war. There are a number of reclining Buddha images in the compound of the pagoda. At the entrance of the pagoda is a Bodhi (banyan) tree planted by the Prime Minister U Nu of independence Burma.

If you walk in the streets around Setkyathiha Pagoda, you will see a number of gold-leaf workshops. Here, gold sheets are beaten into paper thin sheets which are then cut into smaller pieces to stick on the pagoda and Buddha stupas all around the country.

Eindawya Pagoda

Situated on the Eindawya Street is the Eindawya Pagoda. The pagoda was built by King Pagan Min in 1847. The pagoda was covered in gold leaves and houses a Buddha statue brought from Bodhagaya in India in 1839. The Buddhist monastery situated around the pagoda is also called Eindawya Monastery. Eindawya Paya and Eindawya Monastery are famous in the independence movement of Burma. In 1919, a group of Europeans who entered the monastery and the pagoda wearing shoes were forcibly evicted by angered monks. Four monks were convicted by a colonial court and their leader U Kettaya was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Eindawya Street leading to the pagoda has a number of shops that sell religious books and monk gears.

Shwekyimyin Pagoda

Shwekiyimyin Pagoda is situated on the 24th Street, between 82nd and 83rd Streets. Legend is that this pagoda was built by Min Shin Saw who was the eldest son of King Alaung Sithu of Bagan. Believed by many Buddhists to be built in 1167, this is the oldest pagoda in Mandalay. The Buddha image inside the pagoda was believed to be consecrated by the prince himself. It also contained a collection of gold, silver and crystal Buddha images collected and worshipped by the Burmese kings. These were originally housed and worshipped in the Royal Palace but later moved to Shwekyimyin Pagoda after the British occupation of the palace. These Buddha images are shown to the public only on special religious days. There is a small glass-enclosed stupa near the east entrance which houses a number of Buddha images.

Editor’s Note: Many of the above information has been obtained from our reference book Lonely Planet Guide to Myanmar (Burma). This is a very good guide book on Myanmar, and essential book that you must bring on your trip to Myanmar. The book can be obtained from Amazon store.

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