The Mandalay Hill Area is Rich with Buddhist Sites

 

There is Plenty to See in the Mandalay Hill Area

 

The area on and around Mandalay Hill has Buddhist sites that the first-time visitor to Mandalay simply must see. The fact that these sites are close to one another, makes spending a day exploring the Mandalay hill area, a relatively easy undertaking.

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The 240-meter tall hill has been a popular pilgrimage site for Myanmar’s Buddhists for over 200 years. At the top of the hill is Sutaunpyei Pagoda. There are four covered walkways on the north, south, south-east and west sides of the hill that allow visitors and the devout to climb the gentle incline of the hill.

Mandalay Hill
Buddhist monks from all over Myanmar make the pilgrimage to Mandalay Hill.

There are lots of food and refreshments stands along the way. There is also a road that visitors can use to reach the top of the hill. Two huge stone ‘chinthes’ flank the southern walkway entrance, these are lion-like statues that symbolically stand guard to protect the hill.

The top of the hill is also a popular destination for tourists and devotees alike to go to enjoy the views at sunset.

Mandalay Hill
Viewing the sunset from the top of the hill is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike.
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Kyauk Tan Gyi Pagoda

The Kyauk Tan Gyi Pagoda is at the top of Mindhama Hill, north of Mandalay hill near the airport. The entrance to the pagoda is via a stairway decorated with the heads of ‘Nagas’, a giant serpent-like being that is a part of both of Buddhist and Hindu legends. The serpent’s long, sinuous bodies serve as the railings for the staircase.

Kyauk Tan Gyi Pagoda
A birds-eye view of Kyauk Tan Gyi Pagoda.

The ornately-gilded walls of the pagoda contain the largest marble Buddha image in Myanmar. The Buddha image weighs over 600 tons and is made from a single piece of white marble. The image is over 11.2 meters tall and over 7.3 meters in width.

Kyauk Tan Gyi Pagoda
The largest marble Buddha in Myanmar weighs 600 tons.

The Buddha image is enclosed in a glass case that protects it from temperature fluctuations. The grounds around the pagoda are open daily from 6 AM to 8 PM and admission is free.

Khutodaw Pagoda

At the foot of the hill lies Khutodaw Pagoda. The center-piece of the pagoda is a large Buddhist stupa. The graceful and gilded 57-meter tall stupa overlooks the ‘Kyauksa gu’ that cover the grounds of the pagoda.

Khutodaw Pagoda
The Khutodaw Pagoda comprises the world’s largest book.

‘Kyauksa gu’ are smaller shrines, each housing a marble slab inscribed in the Pali language. Each slab represents a single page of the Tipitaka, the guiding principles of Therevada Buddhism. There are 729 of these shrines on the Pagoda grounds, meaning that the pagoda actually is the world’s largest book.

Khutodaw Pagoda
Each shrine holds a marble tablet inscribed with a page of the Tipitaka, the guiding principles of Therevada Buddhism.

The slabs were all originally written in gold ink, but in the course of restoration work in 1892, the gold letters were replaced with black ink, which made the slabs easier to read.

The pagoda is open from 8 AM to 8 PM. The entrance fee is covered under the Archaeological Zone Pass.

 
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