At one time this entire building was gilded inside and out and was known as the Golden Palace Monastery. Now, with the outer gold leaf removed, Shwenandaw Kyaung is better known as the Teak monastery.
The entire wooden outer surface, including the roof, is covered in very delicate carvings.
This is the only part of the original royal Mandalay Palace to survive the bombing during World War Two.
This is one of the few points in Mandalay that sells and requires a Mandalay Archaeological Zone Ticket for $10. It’s required to visit a number of sites in and around Mandalay, including Sagaing, Amarapura and Inwa. By now we’d already visited most of the sites without a ticket.
Unfortunately my overriding memory is looking up from the camera viewfinder to find a tiny, pink-haired American lady peering at me, before exclaiming “Boy, it sure is purdey here!”
Kuthodaw Paya is an open air monastery with rows upon rows of small white stupas. Each of the 729 stupas contain a tablet carved with Buddhist scriptures.
Known as the ‘biggest book in the world’ the tablets contain the complete 15 books of Tripitaka.
The Tripitaka is the Buddist canon, known to many foreigners as ‘The Journey to the West’ and portrayed with a lot of artistic licence in the TV series ‘Monkey Magic’.
Note: Whilst Kuthodaw Paya should be a peaceful place to sit and relax, it had the most aggressive hustlers/vendors we met in Myanmar. In the end we gave up and went for an ice cold palm sugar across the road and watched the kids playing football.
With Mandalay and the surroundings built on a flat plain, the single hill in the area provides spectacular panoramas in every direction.
The steep switch-backing road up the hill is popular with hard-core exercisers and takes about half an hour to climb, or would have were I not happily riding up there in an air-conditioned taxi for a few kyat.
At the very top there’s a huge escalator up to the viewing platform and a tiny lift back down. We were stuck in the elevator queue next to a group of young monks who were anything but calm and serene. Monks here are far more boisterous than those in the rest of South East Asia and the Far East, but also seem much happier.
Other Mandalay city tour destinations
Whilst the sites surrounding Mandalay range from natural beauty and beautiful ruins to breathtakingly large stupas, the town isn’t that thrilling. Other sites we stopped at included the Mandalay Palace, although it’s currently an army barracks, and the Mahamuni Paya, which we visited but were deterred by the queues.
Check back next time for ideas on where to stay in Mandalay.