Mandalay (day 2)

The morning hours are the best in Myanmar. Clear skies, a pleasant breeze and intriguing house cooking odors. After a full breakfast at the hotel’s roof garden we went to the Kyauk Taw Gyi pagoda with the resident, imposing marble Buddha image, made from a single marble rock. Today, I finally decided to switch to flip-flops as the ritual of getting in and out of my sneakers every time we enter a pagoda or monastery was simply too much.

The Su Taung Pyay Pagoda is situated at the top of the Mandalay hill, with stunning views over the city. It is a bit touristy but not in the way I expected. Many of the tourists are locals from different parts of Myanmar and they seemed quite excited to get their pictures with us, westerners.

 

The Great Marble Image
The great marble Buddha image in Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda, carved out from a signle marble rock.
Future Teller
Hand reading practice in the entrance of the Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda.
Su Taung Pyi
Inside the Su Taung Pyi pagoda in Mandalay.

 

The Kuthodaw Pagoda is a stupa that contains what is known as the world’s largest book, an impressive array of 729 small white caves, each housing a marble slab, inscribed on both sides with a page of text from the Tipitaka, the entire Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism.

 

Tiptaka
A marble slabs of Tiptaka, in Kuthodaw Pagoda.
The Wold's Largest Book
The stone-inscription caves containing the marble slabs of Tiptaka, in Kuthodaw Pagoda.
Gong fo Sale
A girl selling a gong in Kuthodaw Pagoda.
Sweet Myanmar Girl
A sweet little girl in Kuthodaw Pagoda.
Catch Me
Playing in Kuthodaw Pagoda.
Sceptic
Man outside the Kuthodaw Pagoda.
Kuthodaw Pagoda
The central stup in the Kuthodaw Pagoda.

 

Our next stop was at the Shwenandaw Kyaung, or Golden Palace Monastery, a historic buddhist monastery made of wood. The building was originally part of the royal palace at Amarapura, before it was moved to Mandalay. It is the only building of the royal Amarapura complex that was saved from the bombings during the second world war. I was lucky to be there at the same time when a russian group of photographers had a workshop and had brought a couple of novice teenage monks for their shooting. Models for free!

 

Shwenandaw Kyaung
The wooden Shwenandaw Kyaung monastery in Mandalay.
Chicks
A Mother, her son and their chicks for sale outside the Shwenandaw Kyaung monastery.
Shwenandaw Kyaung
The interior of the Shwenandaw Kyaung monastery.
Young Monk
A young monk in Shwenandaw Kyaung monastery.
Young Monk
A young monk in Shwenandaw Kyaung monastery.
Young Monk
A young monk in Shwenandaw Kyaung monastery.
Young Monk
A young monk in Shwenandaw Kyaung monastery.
Young Monk
A young monk in Shwenandaw Kyaung monastery.

 

The last stop in Mandalay was at the famous Mahamuni Pagoda. According to wikipedia, “the legend, the Buddha visited the Dhanyawadi city of Arakan in 554 BC and King Sanda Thuriya requested that an image was cast of him. After casting the Great Image, the Buddha breathed upon it, and thereafter the image became the exact likeness of the Mahamuni (literal meaning: The Great Sage)”. The image seats in the center of the pagoda where only men are allowed to enter. Every day the pilgrims apply gold leafs that they buy from the official and unofficial outlets in the pagoda. A very profitable enterprise indeed. Religious institutions across the world have found ways to monetize people’s spiritual beliefs. After centuries of applying gold leafs – each 5 micron thick – the image today has triple the size of the original.

 

Money for Buddha
Religious intitutions seem to follow the same practises actoss the globe. Here is a morning's intake in the Mahamuni Paya.
The Golden Buddha
The great Buddha image in Mahamuni Paya. The pilgrims are applying golden leafs.
Resting Monks
Two monks resting in Mahamuni Paya.
Smart Phones
Young monks with their smartphones in Mahamuni Pagoda, Mandalay.
Rub for Luck
A Korean lady is rubbing one the statues in the Mahamuni Paya that supposedely bring good luck and heal wound illness.
Mandalay Girl
A young girl in the Mahamuni Pagoda.

 

Next: Bagan

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