Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Myanmar - Day 7 - Mandalay and Mingun Temple

Tour boats on Irrawaddy River

On the morning on day 7 we headed to the Irrawwaddy River for a boat ride up the river to Mingun Temple.

Boats being loaded on Irrawaddy River in Mandalay

This is the scene on the shore. You can bags of something loaded or unloaded by porters and stacked on the truck. I think I mentioned that the transportation infrastructure in Myanmar is lacking.

These boats double as work boats and house boats. This guy is taking a shower with river water in front of his outhouse.

The Irrawaddy River is 1,350 miles long and runs north to south right down the center of Myanmar.

Village on Irrawaddy River

The river level changes dramatically from season to season so I imagine this is a temporary village.

I guess this house is safe during the rainy season but getting down to the boat looks like a challenge.

Bamboo raft on Irrawaddy River

There is a lot of commercial activity. These families are transporting bamboo down the river. There is a motor boat pulling the raft.

This collection of boats was tied together and getting towed together down the river. There are a lot of sandbars and bends in the river so it would be pretty tough to navigate down without a boat to pull.

Mingun temple from the Irrawaddy River

This is our destination - Mingun Temple.

Once on shore you could take a taxi up to the temple. We chose to walk.

Mingun Temple

Here is a better picture. The temple was never completed. It was started in 1790 but construction was stopped after an astrologer told the king he would die if it was finished. There was a huge earthquake in 1835 that damaged the structure.

Mingun Bell

This is the second largest functional bell in the world. It was cast in 1808. The Chinese built a larger one in 2000. The largest bell ever made is also in Myanmar. Unfortunately the bell is under about 25 feet of mud in Yangon River were the Portuguese dropped it in 1602.

I changed the format to make it more mobile friendly. Let me know what you think.

This is Myatheindan Pagoda at Mingun. It dates to 1816.

Carving teak in Mandalay

After lunch we toured a teak carving workshop. This guy is just getting started on turning this slab of teak ...

Teak carving in Mandalay

... into this. I have no idea how many hours it takes.

Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay

The Mahamuni Pagoda is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Burma. The Buddha image here is the most highly revered Buddha image in the country. The pagoda was built in 1785 by King Bodawpaya of the Konbaung dynasty after the Mahamuni image was captured during the invasion of the Arakan Kingdom.

This is a hall where offerings are received. The monks on the far side under the umbrellas are reciting Buddhist scripture.

Here is the Buddha image. This Buddha is covered with gold leaf, also.

Bronze figures at Mahamuni Pagoda

These bronze figures have had a storied history. They were originally Khmer and were at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. A Thai king captured them in 1431. In 1564, a Burmese king captured them and brought them to Myanmar.

Shwenandaw Temple

This is Shwenandaw Temple, the only teak temple to survive World War 2. All the others burned down.

Teak carving at Shwenandaw Temple

There is a lot of carving on the structure. I think this was at one time part of the royal palace.

This the Buddha image inside.

This is the reconstructed Atumashi Monastery. It was re-built by the military government in the 1990s using prison labor.

It is a really large hall. There is monk in front of the Buddha figure but he is really hard to see.

Sutaungpyei Pagoda

Before sundown we headed to Mandalay Hill to visit Sutaungpyei Pagoda and watch the sun go down.

This is the Buddha figure in the temple.

The sunset wasn't quite as interesting as Bagan.

That is the Irraawaddy River in front of the mountains.

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