Shwebo is 64 miles north of Mandalay on the motor and railroad to Myitkyina. It is 17 miles west of Kyauk Myaung. a river-side town on the Ayeyarwady. which is famous for glazed pottery works from toys. cups. letters. bowls. pots to huge water jars that are tied in hundreds and floated down the river as rafts. These are widely used throughout the country. Shwebo was the native town of U Aung Zeya. the founder of the Kone Baung Dynasty against the rule of the Mon Monarchy in 1752 and lasted over two centuries. He subdued all the war-lords and racial chieftains and unified the whole country under one kingdom. As Shwebo was the first capital of the last dynasty of Myanmar kings. there is a belief that the land in this place is a land of victory. Even after the capital was shifted to other places. the Kings. their royal officials and high ranking army commanders used to come back to tread the "earth of victory land" at Shwebo. in a ceremonial way. During colonial times this belief was discouraged. but still the people. continued to believe that before any important undertaking the victory land at Shwebo should be trod. After Independence. the people of Shwebo under the guidance of Webu Sayadaw. built a Victory Land Pagoda and established a Victory Land Enclosure. and also a monastery called Aung Mye Kyaung Daik or Victory Land Monastery. Visitors nowadays usually take back a handful of Victory earth to keep in their houses. The place and other royal parks. lakes. moats and watch tower have been neglected. disrepaired. ravaged and ruined in the last two centuries. With the promotion of the tourism industry. the government has launched upon the reconstruction of the palace buildings. parks and dredged the royal lake for the benefit of the visitors and locals. Shwebo can be reached by car or rail from Mandalay under four hours. The Pyu culture dating back to the second century A.D. flourished at Hanlin. the ruins of which can still be seen. a few miles south of Shwebo. Travel by car under less than an hour. It is the rice bowl of Upper Myanmar with vast stretches of paddy land
Mya Theindan Pagoda in Shwebo was also built by King Alaung Hpaya in his deeds of merit. When the successors of King Alaung Hpaya shifted the capital to Central Myanmar. most of the royal buildings and pagodas were neglected and left to dereliction. With the passage of time over one and a half centuries this pagoda was so dilapidated that in 1918 the famous Myanmar novelist James Hla Gyaw repaired. renovated and installed a new ornamental finial. Hti in Myanmar means umbrella. On the demise of the donor. his ashes were interred in the walled enclosure at this pagoda
This pagoda was built by U Hpo Mya & Mai Palaung. the parents of Queen Khin Yum San. the Chief Queen of King Alaung Hpaya. It was a deed of merit and the name means "Oil Lamp of Janbudipa".
This pagoda is one of the oldest in Shwebo. It is supposed to have been built by King Alaung Sithu of the Bagan Dynasty. The important aspect with a famous image of Buddha carved out of a very fragrant wood. This image is called the Shwe Tazar means Ornament of Beatitude and the pagoda derives its' name from this image. The image is so famous that Kings of Myanmar had vied for it and had taken it to the different capitals viz.. Inwa. Hantha Waddy. Taungoo and back to Inwa. Sagaing and finally to Shwebo.
This pagoda is also one of the oldest in Shwebo and dates back to the Bagan Period. It derives its' name from the venerable Thein (Sima) or Ordination Hall where monks are ordained into the Order. The inscriptions on the two bells in the pagoda were donated by King Badon mentions that the pagoda was built by King Narapati Sithu. Its unusual feature is that it is enclosed within three walls. The outer two walls are in ruins due to dereliction but the innermost stone wall is well preserved. A visit to these ancient pagodas would be worth the trouble.
The Maha Myat Muni Pagoda is located at the Southwest of Mandalay, where inside lies the Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image. The Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image is the most revered Buddha image in Mandalay. It is also known as the Phaya Gyi. It is the most ancient Buddha image in Myanmar. It was cast in the life-span of Lord Buddha in the seated posture of relaxed deportment, namely Bumi Phasa Mudras, symbolic of His Conquest of Mara. The 4m high-seated image is cast in bronze and weigh 6.5 tons, which it's crown is decorated with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image was being cast in front of the Buddha himself it can say Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image is the portrait of Buddha and the face is most revered. Every morning at 4:30AM, a team of monks washes the face and brushes the teeth. Since Myanmar Buddhists are so devout countless thousands of devotees apply gold leaf to gain merit, the image has completely covered with 15 cm thick gold and original shape is distorted.
Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, the pagoda of the “Great Marble Image,” is sited near the southern entry to Mandalay Hill. Although its construction was started in 1853 by King Mindon, it was not completed until 1878, in part due to a palace rebellion and domestic disturbances in the mid-1860s. The chief feature of the Kyauktawgyi Paya is huge seated Buddha figure sculpted from a single block of pale green marble from the Sagyin quarry twelve miles north of Mandalay. The Kuthodaw Paya (Pagoda), or Maha Lawka Marazein Paya, contains what often is called the world’s largest book. It is a large walled complex situated at the base of the southeast stairway to Mandalay Hill and was built by King Mindon at the same time he was constructing the Royal Palace. Its central stupa is modeled on the Shwezigon at Nyaung U near Bagan. An on-site carved tablet indicates that the pagoda’s height is 187 ft 9 in, high, while some guide books list it at 100 ft (30 m). The former includes the platform in the measurement.
Atumashi Monastery is located at the North Eastern part of the Mandalay Palace. Its only about 10 minutes drive from the royal palace. The Atumashi Kyaung meaning Incomparable Monastery (Maha Atulawaiyan Kyaungdawgyi), was originally built in 1857 by King Mindon (1853-1879), who had founded his new capital of Upper Burma at Mandalay just a few years earlier in 1855. It was one of the King’s last great religious construction project. The original Atumashi was a magnificent wooden structure with considerable exterior stucco and set on a high platform reached by a formal ceremonial staircase. Instead of the traditional “pyatthat” (graduated wooden spires of decreasing size) and multi-roof design of traditional monastic buildings, the Atumashi was a huge grandiose structure surrounded by five graduated rectangular terraces. It was considered one of Southeast Asia’s most magnificent buildings. Kyaing Tong is known for its scenic beauty and many colorful ethnic tribes. Places of interest around Kyaingtong are, the Spa, Naung Tong Lake, Sunn Taung Monastery, Central market and Traditional Lacquer ware works and weaving factory. There are many villages of various ethnic tribes resided around Kyaing Tong. The tribes known as Gon, Lwe, Li, Wa, Lah Hu, Thai Nay, Shan, Li Shaw, Li Su, Palaung, Akha, and we can only differentiate the tribes by colourful dresses which is different to one another.Can observe their tribal dances and their way of living on these mountainous regions around Kyaing Tong. Situated in the eastern Shan State and 452 km from Taunggyi and 176km from Tachileik.
This was my second visit to Kyainge Tong , the principal city of Shan State (East) and the second golden opportunity to pay homage to the Maha Myat Muni Image of Kyainge Tong Members of the Board of Editors of the Myanmar Perspectives magazine had set out on a study tour of Tachilek and Kyainge Tong through the kind offices of the authorities concerned and had arrived in Kyainge Tong from Tachilek on the afternoon of December 27, 1997. The Maha Myat Muni Pagoda was just around the corner from the Kyainge Tong Hotel, so a group of us walked there after dinner. The pagoda or temple to put it more accurately, though not located in the heart of town, reminded me of Sule Pagoda because it stands encircled by a good motor road and motor cycle traffic was heavy. But once you entered the prayer hall of the Maha Muni Image the atmosphere is tranquil and one can meditate and pray in peace. The walls and ceiling of the hall are resplendent with " Shwezawa" (gold lacquer) decorations yet it was not so lavish as to offend the eye. Then wemet some members of the Board of Pagoda Trustees who welcomed us warmly and were each given an information booklet in English on the history of the pagoda. We met the translator of this booklet from the Shan to English Sai Loang Gyi and at his request I would like to recount to our readers the legend which led to sculpture of images in kingly robes as well as the origin of the Maha Muni Pagoda - a noble and serene effigy of the Lord Buddha. The Legend It says in the booklet that - " During thelifetime of the Gotama Buddha there lived a heretic king named "Pyar Zoombu" (Zabupadi in Myanmar) who was so filled with arrogance, vanity and pride that he even refused to pay obeisance to the Lord Buddha." The Lord Buddha in his omniscience realized that this handsome king, though blinded by his own pride and power, had the seed of wisdom lying dormant in him which could flower and bear fruit to set him free from lust anger and ignorance. So the Lord Buddha one day appeared before him in kingly attire with a richly jewelled crown and intricately ornamented gold sash, seated majestically on a magnificent throne. The Buddha in this form epitomised a grandeur and power immeasurably beyond that of "Pya Zoombu". The king was thus jolted out of his egocentricism and eventually repented and became a devoted disciple of the Buddha. To commemorate this incident, the king of Dinnyawaddy (Rakhine) and the local people immediately cast a replica image in bronze. The Buddha image later came to be known as the Maha Muni. The Origin of the Kyainge Tong Maha Myat Muni After many years had elapsed the news of the image spread from Rakhine to kyainge Tong. For the perpetuation and dissemination of the Buddha’s teachings, Sao Kawn Kaio Intaleng, the then chief ruler of Kyainge Tong called upon Art Yar Tum, the Patriarch of Wat Zaing Ngam, town elders and townspeople to assist him in his plan to have such an image cast for worship. The Casting of the Buddha Image In 1282 of the Myanmar Era (1920 A.D.), Saophaloang Sao Kawn Kaio Intaleng sent two high-ranking officials in his service, U Pho Mein and U Banyar Pyar Wat to Mandalay to commission work on the image with bronze casters of Mandalay. Thus the Buddha image was cast in Mandalay in 1283ME (1921 A.D.) by skilled artisan U Tit and fellow workers. The face of the Image from the chin to the topmost part of the holy head was cast from a mixture of 1.7 viss ( 1 viss = 3.6 pounds) of pure gold, 17 viss of silver and some copper. The total cost was 15,000 colonial rupees. At the time the Takaw-Kyainge Tong road was merely a buffalo track, so the image had to be transported in separate parts. It was transported with great difficulty from Hsipaw to Takaw, a village situated on the western bank of the Thanlwin river by bullock cart, and from Takaw to Kyainge tong by buffalo cart. The people of the town were said to have turned out in full force to joyously welcome and pay homage amidst the rhythmic beating of gongs and the deep throated bonging of the Shan long drum. It was conveyed in procession around town and set up in residence at a thatched Vihara at Koang Kwai Zon, now the football ground in the town’s centre. It was kept in the temporary Vihara for over a year. In 1926 the Buddha Image was moved from the temporary thatched Vihara to the present building. This new Vihara had a roof of teak wood shingles with a ceiling of thick planks. A brick wall was also built to enclose the precincts. In 1938, it was again renovated and the roof replaced with a splendid tapering nine-tiered roof. The inside walls were also elaborated with froral designs. The donor was the then Mahadevi of Kyainge Tong.