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Mandalay

 

Mandalay, the last capital of the Myanmar Kings, is located in central Myanmar, 668 km north of Yangon. Also known as Yadanabon-nepyidaw (Gem City) it was built in 1857 by King Mindon, the father of the last king, Thibaw.

Mandalay is the second largest city boasting a rich cultural heritage, and it is also a commercial center with rail, road, river and air links to all parts of the country.

Mahamuni Pagoda Festival

King Bodawphaya built this Pagoda in1784 to house the Mahamuni Buddha Image, brought from Rakhine State . The Image originally was of alloy but now it is heavily gilded with fine foils of gold, and is estimated to be over one ton in weight. Being the most revered Pagoda in Mandalay, the early morning ritual of washing the face of the Buddha's image draws a daily crowd of devotees.

The Pagoda Festival is held in the month of Dabodwe`. In the first ceremony from the 1st Waxing Day to the 9th Waxing Day of Dabodwe`(February), a number of monks chant Buddhist scriptures nonstop. On the 8th Waxing day, there are communal offerings of dry rations and other necessities to the monks from nearby monasteries.

The evening entertainment includes zats (a variety of dances, songs, short & long plays), anyeints (comedic dances), open-air movies, and many stalls selling various traditional snacks and other utilities.

Taung Pyone Festival

This is the most famous Nat Festival (appeasing of spirits) in Upper Myanmar. It is held at Taung Pyone village, in Madaya Township, one-hour drive from Mandalay. The festival is held in August, around the full moon day of Wahgaung, and lasts five days, with special programs each day.

Yadanagu Festival

This is another Traditional Nat Festival held in also in August, around the no moon day of Wahgaung. The festival is on the Mandalay-Sagaing road in Amarapura township, half an hour drive from Mandalay.

Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda Festival

King Mindon built Kyauktawgyi pagoda (the Pagoda of the Great Marble Image,) in 1865. The huge Buddha image was cast out of a single alabaster boulder and brought from the Sagyin hills, about 50 miles from Mandalay. Ten thousand labourers are said to have been employed for 13 days to transport the boulder along a specially dug canal of the site of the pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill.

The festival is from 8th waxing day to the full moon day of Thidingyut (October.) The event is similar to other pagoda festivals.

Kyaukse Elephant Dance Festival

This is the yearly cultural highlight of Kyaukse, 26 miles south of Mandalay. The entire town participates in a competition, not only for the best elephant dance, but also for the best-decorated elephant effigy.

Two men have to get inside the life-size hollowed-out papier-mache elephants and imitate the movements of a real elephant. A lead man coordinates the movement of the dancers and he is assisted by a small group of musicians. The festival is celebrated on the day before full moon day of Thadingyut. People from the surrounding areas, some as far away as Mandalay, participate in the festivities.

Kaung-hmu-daw Pagoda Festival

This huge pagoda is 10 km beyond the town of Sagaing, south west of Mandalay , across the Ayeyawadi River . The enormous dome rises 46 metres in the shape of a perfect hemisphere and was modeled after the Mahazeti in Sri Lanka .

Also known as Rajamanisula, the pagoda was built to commemorate Inwa's establishment as the royal capital of Myanmar . The pagoda festival is held around the full moon day of Tazaungdine. The most interesting aspect of the festival is the caravan of bullock carts in the pagoda compound, some carrying village products like hand-woven cotton cloths and rattan mats for sale at the festival.

Shin Mar Le Pagoda Festival

The pagoda festival is celebrated during the Tazaungdine festival. People throw lotus flowers to the top of the stupa, located at the north entrance of the Mahamuni Pagoda, as homage to the Lord Buddha.

Hta Pwe or Mogok Gem Market

Mogok is famous for its rubies and, hence, is called ruby-land. It is the center for mining and sale of quality rubies and other precious stones. During the days of the Myanmar Kings precious stones were sold under the supervision of the appraisers in the royal city. Nowadays, private gem traders open sale shops in Mogoke, and there are also venues called "Hta Pwe" for the sale of gems. They are called "Hta Pwe" in reference to keeping gems in brass trays known as "Hta".

The gem trading is carried out during the time where there is enough light; trading is done twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. One of the sweet customs of Mogoke is that nobody sells fake gems; when one dealer is bargaining the price no other person would barged in to out bid him.