Monywa Town – Where Hustling Life Harmonizes with Buddhism

13 Jun 2019 by Admin

Several Lines of Monywa

Locating on the eastern bank of Chindwin River, along the Mandalay - Budalin railway in Mandalay Division, Monywa town is a center for trading activities between Myanmar and India via Kalay Myo road and Chindwin River. Despite being little known by foreign tourists, Monywa town and its surrounding area are home to appealing sites that should not be missed on your trip to Mandalay Division.

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One of the best way to explore Monywa is by Myanmar river cruises

The name of Monywa originates from two words, “Mon” which means “cake or snack” and “Ywa” which means “village” in the Burmese language. Legend had it that once upon a time, when this town was just a village, a Burmese King fell for a cake seller in the village and married her. The King then named the village Monywa. Some claims that the original full name of the village was Monthemaywa or “Village of cake seller mistress”.

Through many feudal dynasties in Burma, Monywa still remained only a big village with the official name “Thalawadi” and the region’s administrative center was at Ahlon. It was not until the Annexation 1886 did Monywa become the Headquarters of the Lower Chindwin District. In recent years, upon the border opening in trading with India, Monywa town has become a bustling trade center.

Scattering around the Monywa town are farms, rice fields, shimmering pagodas and small villages. The rustic area is dominated by the agricultural scenes with fields of crops such as sugar, bean, and cotton. If you are interested, you can visit a large copper mine in the west of Chindwin River.

A plenty of local products can be found in the markets of Monywa town. There are numerous vendors selling handicrafts, textiles, fruits and foods. You can also try some Burmese street foods and local dishes when wandering around the markets. If you like going around the town in a local way, you can hire a motorbike or trishaw.

Things to Do in Monywa ?

Thanboddhay Pagoda

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Impressive Appearance of Thanboddhay Pagoda

About 20 kilometers away from the town, stands a unique Buddhist pagoda complex built on an area of 37 acres which is a constituent of Mohnyin Forest Monastery retreat. Unlike many other pagodas across Myanmar, Thanboddhay Pagoda is relatively new.

Its construction commenced on June 1939 and took nearly 13 years to finish in March 1952. This pagoda complex is a masterpiece of the Venerable Mohnyin Sayadaw whose life-like statue is placed near the complex.

Thanboddhay Pagoda might remind some people of Borobodur (a famous ancient temple in Indonesia) because of their similarity in architectural design. However, different from the quaintness and antiqueness of Borobodur, Thanboddhay Pagoda bears modernity with well - maintained structure and impressive samples of modern Buddhist art.

There are 582,257 Buddha images placed in numerous niches along the walls. Interestingly, the entrance of the pagoda complex is guarded by two majestic white elephants which is a sacred and propitious creature in Buddhism, instead of Chinthes (the Burmese mythical lions) like in other famous pagodas.

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Thousands of Buddha images are placed in Thanboddhay Pagoda

If you want to learn about the cultural aspect of the pagoda, it is recommended that you go there at the very first days of Tazaungmone month in Myanmar calendar (falling around November. At this time, you can participate in the annual pagoda festival which often lasts for several days. During these days, people come to enjoy the festival atmosphere with music and dances and buy products from various stalls.

Bodhi Tahtaung and Po Khaung Taung

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Numerous Buddha Image Are Placed Under Bodhi Trees

To admire another unique sight that you can find nowhere else, you should take a car to Po Khaung Taung, a small hill range only five miles away from Thanboddhay Pagoda.

You should stop near the foot of the hills for a while to wander around Bodhi Tahtaung, the newly planted forest of Bodhi trees (the sacred tree in Buddhism as Gaudama Buddha was enlightened while he meditated under the tree). Underneath each tree in the forest is a Buddha image creating a tranquil place for Buddhist coming here to express obeisance.

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Po Khaung Taung is an Appealing Site of Monywa Town

Continue strolling to the east of Bodhi Tahtaung, you will arrive Po Khaung Taung, a place where you can see two gigantic Buddha images, one in standing posture and one in reclining posture. Both two images are just built recently, just nearly three decades ago. The reclining Buddha image was just constructed in 1991 while the standing one was just completed in 2008.

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The Reclining Buddha Image in Monywa Town is hollow inside and contains the Great Chronicles of Buddha

With the length of 600 feet, the reclining Buddha image is considered the biggest one in Myanmar and probably in the world. Extraordinarily, the image has a hollow structure which you can go inside and walk from the head to the feet. Inside, you will encounter 9000 Buddha image of 1 foot high. Important events of the Buddha are also depicted.

Hpo Win Taung Caves

Located 25 km west of Monywa on the western bank of the Chindwin River are Hpo Win Daung caves. This is a pagoda complex of 947 caves ornamented with beautiful mural paintings and hundreds of Buddha statues.

In November, there is the interesting Hpo Duang Festival taking place at the caves. This is the biggest festivals of the year in Monywa. You can join the festival to have memorable experience when travel to Monywa at that time.

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Beautiful mural paintings inside the cave

Hope the article help you a bit in planning your trip to Monywa. If you need any further information, don't hesitate to contact us. Read more our places to visit in Myanmar for more travel inspiration.

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