10 things To Do in Mandalay - Part 1
Mandalay is the economical hub of upper Myanmar and considered the center of Burmese culture. It has a special atmosphere to it and the city has so much to offer. Here is a list of 10 things to do when you are in Mandalay.
1. Rent a bike and explore the inner city by yourself.
Bikes are available everywhere and very cheap. Just make sure they give you a good one that won’t break down on you after the first turn. A lot of the attractions within the city are easily accessible by bicycle and the traffic is not too bad. You can spot a lot of interesting things along the way which makes it even more worthwhile.
2. Visit one of the gold pounders’ workshops.
Most of the workshops and their galleries are located on 36th street but there were two which were open for visitors: King Galon and Golden Rose. It was amazing how the gold-beaters swung their 3 kg hammers in a monotonous rhythm over and over again. Almost like music. It takes them hours to produce those fine gold leaves, light as air, which are sent all across the country for the Buddhist worshipers. Gold is the offering of choice in the thousands of temples and stupas of Myanmar. Especially for worshiping Buddha statues, the gold leaves play an important role.
3. Visit the stone carvers’ district.
Another highlight are the stone carvers along Sagaing-Mandalay Road. The whole area seems to be covered by coat of fine dust of all that marble that’s being manufactured there. Everywhere, inside the workshops but mostly right on the street, you can see skilled craftsmen chipping and polishing slabs of marble into the most delicate Buddha statues. The most astonishing thing was, that no one used templates or sketches of any kind. They seemed to just have the picture of the future Buddha in their heads and just revealed it out of that big slab of rock.
4. Pay respect at Maha Muni Pagoda.
Maha Muni is the holiest pagoda of Mandalay and considered the second holiest place in Myanmar just after Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. The pagoda is huge with several entrances and hallways leading to its center. Inside you will find a huge image of a sitting Buddha which is about 4 meters high. Once you enter this sacred place, you can feel how important it is to the worshipers around. The atmosphere is so devout with people kneeling in front of the statue, the faithful clasp hands before their chest. There the golden leaves come into play. Worshipers go up the platform and then rub some of the leaves on the statue as their offering.
5. Unwinding at Shwenandaw Monastery.
Shwenandaw Monastery, also known as the Golden Palace Monastery, is the only surviving original building from Mandalay's royal palace. The well-preserved, all-teak structure is covered in intricately carved figures from Buddhist mythology, and has become a valuable stop for those looking to absorb Mandalay's rich history.