A Journey to Fascinating Mandalay Hill in Myanmar
Mandalay is not only a city of temples and monasteries; it can also be considered as the city of royalty. The other attractions in Mandalay are reminders of the time when Burmese kingdoms were still in existence.
This is the city where the Royal Palace can be found, as well as other structures built by the kings. However, the best attraction in Mandalay is not made by man. Mandalay Hill is the most famous attraction of the city, a necessary stop for any tourist who arrives in this part of Myanmar.
Mandalay Hill is easily my preferred vantage point for the area around the former capital city. From the Irrawaddy snaking through the land below to the bright, beautiful sun setting against the faint hills in the distance, it is a perfect way to start exploring Mandalay.
The entrance to the stairway is protected by two Chinthes, huge leogryphs that often guard temples or pagodas in Southeast Asia. The Chinthe is also on the Kyat, Burma’s official currency.
One of the more beautiful statues of Buddha that I’ve seen. This is the Shweyattaw (Standing Buddha) but is also known as the prophesying Buddha since the statue depicts Gautama Buddha predicting the establishment of Mandalay, his right hand pointing toward Mandalay in the plains.
I was lucky to climb Mandalay Hill when I did. A man approached me midway up to discuss the history and offer his services as a guide. While I normally forgo the services of those who bother me along the way, there was something gentle about this man and I agreed to have him show me around Mandalay the next day.
My day on his motorbike turned into an impromptu meal with his family followed by tea with his friends, and upon my return to Mandalay later on that month, I was able to reunite with them all. It made for a really special way to see the city and get to know its people a bit better.
The amazing things I love about Mandalay? Climbing Mandalay Hill, the gold leaf and weaving shops, the famous U Bein teak bridge near Amarapura and my favorite of all the sights in the city, the tiny Shwe in Bein monastery, lovingly carved out of teak and tucked away in a quiet corner near the jade market. While Mandalay is not as visited as Bagan or Inle Lake, its history as the last capital before the monarchy fell made it a fascinating place to visit.