Overlooking Myanmar’s second largest city is Mandalay Hill, an important pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists. The 240 meter high hill is located in the northeast side of town and is known for its abundance of temples and pagodas.
Mandalay Hill is perhaps the best place to start a tour of the city. Not only does it present visitors with an abundance of beautiful stupas and temples, it also offers an excellent view of the city from the hilltop.
Two massive chintes (lion-like creatures) greet you at the main southern entrance of the hill. From here, there are 1,729 steps to climb in order to reach Sutaungpyei Pagoda at the peak. The good news is that there are many landings and stops along the way, so the climb is not as strenuous as it may sound.
The first major stop on the hill is at the hermit U Khanti’s temple, about half-way through the climb where three of Buddha’s bones are kept. Further up the hill is an unconventional image of Buddha standing and pointing with his right hand. He is pointing to where the royal palace will be constructed, a prophecy in which Buddha proclaimed a learning center will be built 2,400 years after his death. In 1857, King Mindon moved the royal capital to Mandalay and established a Buddhist teachings center, fulfilling the prophecy.
Another interesting stop before reaching the summit of the hill is at a statue of the ogress Sanda Muhki. The image depicts her offering Buddha her own breasts as merit. As reward for her extreme act, Buddha prophesized that Sanda Muhki would be reborn as a great king who would build a great city at a foot of a hill. Sounds familiar? Yes, she was reborn as King Mindon.
The view from the summit of the hill is spectacular. From the terrace of Sutaungpyei Pagoda, you can see the fortress surrounding the royal palace and the Irrawaddy River towards the west. In view are also various temples and structures, including Kuthodaw Pagoda and its 729 satellite pagodas. Each of these stupas contain a page of the world’s largest book, a Pali inscription of the entire Buddhist Canon.
A trip to Myanmar is an exclusive experience. The country is still relatively untouched by tourism and a trip to the country offers you a chance to experience one of the region’s most charming and interesting countries. Exotissimo’s Myanmar Special tour is designed for first time visitors to the country, with stops to the Burma’s most important cities and sites, including Mandalay Hill. If you would like to extend your stay in Mandalay, we would like to recommend our Cycle Mandalay: Half Day Biking – Mandalay tour. You will see a different side of the city, sharing the road with oxcarts, local cyclists and school kids and visiting small villages and temples, with plenty of opportunities to stop for photos or chat with the locals. See our suggested Myanmar tours page for other memorable trips into this fascinating country or contact us if you have any questions or would like to tweak any of our tours.
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