Trip to Mandalay in Myanmar exploring Buddhist temples
8 October 2014
Mandalay is an ancient city in Burma (now Myanmar), known for hosting some of the most beautiful and important Buddhist temples across the country, visited by thousands of pilgrims who come all the way here from many corners of Southeast Asia. The Mahamuni temple houses one of the most precious Buddha statues of all of Myanmar, while the Kuthodaw Paya is in the Guinness Book of Records, as it contains the largest book in the world. The monastery of Shwenandaw is instead known for its beautiful carvings in teak wood that are laminated in gold.
The tour to Mandalay in Myanmar begin visiting the Mahamuni Buddhist Temple
, an important pilgrimage site visited by the faithful from all over Burma. In this picture, the central part of Mahamuni temple, surrounded by a porch that overlooks a large courtyard.
The temple of Mahamuni, also called Mahamuni Paya
, presents a central structure dominated by the classic "umbrella", which is equipped with a set of bells that ring in the presence of wind, whose direction is shown by an arrow anemoscope mounted on the top. Many of the metal parts of the umbrella, are laminated with gold and studded with precious stones, while the tip has a real diamond.
Photos of Mahamuni Pagoda. The Mahamuni temple
complex has several buildings, interconnected by corridors and galleries, sometimes finely painted (top left), while a small museum houses a series of paintings illustrating the life of Buddha (pictured above).
Picture of golden Buddha statue
. The Mahamuni temple is known for hosting one of the richest and most elaborated Buddha statues of all of Myanmar. The Buddha statue, weighing many tons, has a core made of bronze and covered in gold, diamonds and other precious stones. The faithful in prayer stick to the statue numerous gold leaf
, so that at some points, several millimiters of this precious metal have been accummulated.
Another important Buddhist temple in Mandalay
, known for its beautiful wood carvings
, is the monastery of Shwenandaw built during the end of the 19th century.
The Shwenandaw monastery
in Mandalay, is constructed entirely of teak wood all finely inlaid to form a huge work of art, one of the most beautiful monastery in Myanmar.
Photos of the fine inlaid in teakwood at Shwenandaw
monastery in Myanmar.
More photos of Shwenandaw
monastery, showing part of the structure and the elaborate carvings in teak wood, a typical Burmese art.
But the real surprise comes when you cross the threshold of one of the doors leading into the monastery of Shwenandaw: all wooden parts are in fact finely laminated in gold, applied by the faithful who go there to pray. The production of gold leaf
is one of many ancient work in Burma and we will see the full process later.
Pictures of Shwenandaw monastery
. The interior rooms of the monastery of Shwenandaw have teak wood structures finely carved and laminated in gold.
In the photo on the right, a decorated door and above, a teak wood column carved and gold-laminated.
Photos of the golden statue of Buddha
in the monastery of Shwenandaw.
What is the biggest book in the world?
The journey continues to Mandalay visiting the impressive Kuthodaw Paya, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records, as it contains the world's highest book
. In fact, in the temple of Kuthodaw there is a large courtyard with 729 small pagodas (top pictures), each of which contains a double-sided page of Tripitaka book, the sacred text of Buddhism, engraved on a marble slab (bottom pictures). If the 729 marble slabs were stacked upon each other like real paper pages of a book, it's easy to imagine the colossal dimensions that would result, and therefore the entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest book
Photo of Kuthodaw temple
. The temple has a central stupa 57 meters high, with the upper part laminated in gold.
More photos of the structures that make up the entire temple complex of Kuthodaw
, together with beautiful decorations.
A small temple within Kuthodaw pagoda, where there is a statue of Buddha
The tour of the Buddhist monasteries in Myanmar
, continue visiting the Kyauktawgyi
pagoda, known to host a large statue of Buddha carved from a single block of marble and dating back to the second half 19th century. A beautiful porch, decorated with stained glass and mirrors, leads to the central shrine housing the statue of Buddha.
Photos of Mandalay
. A traditional excursion in Mandalay is to go on top of an hill (Mandalay Hill
) at sunset, to have a nice view over the city and the vast surrounding plain.
On top of Mandalay Hill
there is a temple decorated with stained glass and mirrors, a place of pilgrimage for many people coming to pray from many corners of Myanmar.
Photos of the pagoda in Mandalay Hill with the central stupa and beautiful decorations made of colored glass and mirrors.
The Sandamuni Paya
at the foot of Mandalay Hill, resembles instead the Kuthodaw pagoda, because of the presence of hundreds of small stupas distributed around a large golden stupa, still containing pages of a sacred book.
Finally, I visit a beautiful temple that contains an image of the Buddha in stone
, where the faithful pray at his feet.
The temple, like many other temples in Mandalay
, is decorated with stained glass and mirrors (the photo on the left was taken a fisheye to give an overview).