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Yangon : the capital of Myanmar, is one of the main gateways to Myanmar. Evergreen and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes, Yangon has earned the name of "the Garden City of the East". Relatively simple city without skyscrapers neon-lit clamor, crowded squalor and the pace of modern life, Yangon is attractive in its own special way. Yangon was founded by King 'Alaungpaya' on the site of a small settlement called Dagon after the conquer of lower Myanmar in 1755 AD. The name Yangon means "End of Strive", which was Anglicized to "Rangoon" after the British annexed Myanmar in 1885 AD. At present, Yangon covers about 500 sq.km and has a population of about five million.

Shwedagon Pagoda :
Most visitors say "One will never complete it's visit in Myanmar without going to Great Shwedagon Pagoda. The historic Shwedagon Pagoda, which towers almost 100 meters above the green city-scrape of Yangon, never falls to enchant visitors. The shimmering main stupa soars high above the capital and is visible for miles away.
Shwe-dagon Pagoda, one of the wonders of the world, is believed to have been built more than 2500 years ago. The Pagoda was renovated many times over the centauries by successive Myanmar Kings.

There are many pagodas in Myanmar but few were come closer to it in scale or beauty. It is not just one main stupa but complex of many stupas. All around the stupa is cluster of smaller stupas, temples, shrines, prayer halls, pavilions, religious images and statues. Lengthy staircases lined with stalls selling religious articles, Silverwares, Bras-wares, Souvenirs, Lacquer-wares, handicrafts, flowers and ceremonial umbrellas.

The best time to visit Shwe-dagon pagoda is at sunset when its gilded stupa is bathed in the fading rays of the sun and takes on a magical glow.
Entrance Fee - US$ 5
Video Camera Fee - US$ 3

Sule Pagoda : This strange Architectural monument is situated right in the center of Yangon, just beside the Myanmar Travels and Tours office, Maha Bandoola Park and Independence Monument, Town Hall and Supreme Court. Sule Pagoda is said to have been built over 2,000 years old and enshrined a hair of Buddha. It has own original "Mon" name "Kyaik-Athok" translates as "the pagoda where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrined". The golden pagoda is unusual for its octagonal shape continues right up to the bell and inverted bowl. It stands 50 meters (152 feet) high and is surrounded by small shops and all the familiar non- religious services such as of astrologists, palmists, and so on. This pagoda is located at the right centre of Yangon which can be served as the evident land mark of the City. Therefore one will never get lost to his path whenever one try to come back to that pagoda.

Kaba Aye Pagoda : In Myanmar means "World Peace" to which this pagoda is dedicated. Built in 1952 by former prime minister U-Nu, this pagoda is significant because of the Sixth World Buddhist Synod which was held in 1954 at the artificial concrete grotto "Mahapasana" which located in its precinct. The Buddhist Art Museum, and newly built Wizaya Mingalar Dhamathabin Hall are also located in the same precinct too. The International Buddhist Learning Centre is also situated there for all Buddhist-scholars around the world. It is also a good place to learn the different mudras and gesture of Buddha Images.

Chauk-htat-kyi Pagoda : This colossal (70 meters long) reclining Buddha, located on Shwe-gon-dine Road, is one of the largest Buddha images in Myanmar. The original image was built in 1907 built by the Wealthy merchant named Sir-Phoe Tha. But it has been suffered damages due to climate over the years. In 1957, it was demolished and rebuilt to this structure, and completed in 1966. It is a good place to learn the 108 significant symbols of Buddha's footprints. This gigantic Buddha Image is located in the big compound of Monasteries, and there are over 600 Buddhist monks who are studying Buddhist literature.

Mel Lamu Pagoda : A wonder land of spire pagodas and sculptured figures located in North Okkalapa, a satellite town about 20 minutes' drive from the city center. Mai-Lamu Pagoda is famous for the giant images depicting Buddha's earlier lives.

Maha Vijaya Pagoda : The Pagoda was built for the commemoration of the First Successful congregation of the Sangha of All Orders held in 1980. This elegant Maha- vijaya Pagoda is a unique blend of traditional patterns and the modern styles. The sanctuary contains the finely wrought Buddha image and the reliquary donated by the King and Queen of Nepal.

Bo Ta Thaung Pagoda : "Bo" means "Military Leader" and "Tahtaung" means one thousand" the " Botahtaung" Pagoda was named after the thousand military leaders who escorted the relics of the " Buddha" brought from India over 2,000 years ago. It is hollow inside and one can walk through it and a sort of mirrored maze inside the pagoda with glass show-cases containing many of the ancient relics and artifacts which were sealed inside the earlier pagoda. Above this interesting interior, the golden pagoda spire rises to 40 meters (132feet).
National Museum : The national museum is located on Pyay road near the Diplomatic quarter of Foreign Embassies. The present location is the third move of the museum since its creation in 1952. Rich collections of various interesting objects are exposed in four floors of a big building.
At the ground floor, the first room is consecrated to the epigraphy and to the calligraphy. It exposes the "Pyu" writing on the gold leaves and on plaques of terracotta; the sacred writing in "pali" and the Burmese writing of different times on the manuscripts and "Parabeiks" to the religious or royal topic.

In the second room is exposed the famous lion brought back to Burma by lord Mount-Batten at the time of the independence. It makes part to 9 kinds of throne in the different apartments of the Palace and intended only for the sovereigns for the different occations. The king and the chief queen sat on the lion throne when they presided an audience or a protocol. The pedestal made of sculpted teak is decorated of lion statuary to which the throne owes its name.
In the following room, is exposed a miniature of the palace before its destruction, the photos of its pavilions, the furnitures and the dresses of the court of Mandalay.

At the first floor, the first room is dedicated to the prehistoric culture of Myanmar (the one of anyathia, the one of padalin cave) and to the cultural discoveries of different "Pyus" principality (Hanlin, Beikthanoe, Sriksetra). The diffusion of the Buddhism of "Pyu" period testified by the unearthed religious objects is interesting.
The second room illustrates the Burmese art development through the different kingdom (Bagan, Pinya, Ava, Taungoo, Nyaungyan, and Konbaung).
In the third room, the treasures of the kings of Mandalay are exposed. The royal attributes and the daily objects of use of the palace worth to study.
The second floor contains two rooms that consist the objects of popular arts and handicraft, the musical instruments and the performing art (the dances, the strings puppets etc...).
The third floor is dedicated to the widely-known Burmese painters' paintings.
The last floor is interesting. It exposes the models of all ethnic minorities with their completed colorful traditional costumes and the distinguish utilitarian objects of every ethnic group. It opens from 10am to 3 pm except Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays
Entrance Fee -US $ 5.
Royal Kandawgyi Lake :
"Kandawgyi" royal lake is situated in the east of Shwedagon Pagoda. It was created by the British and a good spot for relax with well shady trees and plants. The Glisten Shwedagon pagoda reflects in the restful waters of the lake. The eastern part of Royal Lake is the Karaweik floating restaurant made of concrete fully decorated with pilaster work. It is the replica of Royal Barge with two mythical birds at fore-front which has been used by King Alongsithu of Bagan dynasty(12 Century AD).

Bogyoke Aung San Park: A scenic park with a lovely view of Kandawgyi Lake is located on Natmauk road and closed to the pagodas of Shwedagon Pagoda and Mahavijaya Pagoda. This Park is a popular recreation center where city-dwellers relax and enjoy their leisure in peaceful tranquility. The playground and picnic areas are favorite spots for children and teenagers. It is also a place to learn the different species of traditional medicinal plants as well as a nursery for decorative plants and flower. One can also buy the fresh fruits, vegetables, antecedes and fertilizer for small plantations.

People's Square and People's Park : People's Square and People's Park occupy over 130 acres of land between Shwedagon Pagoda and Pyithu Hluttaw (Parliament). There is a museum housing life-size models of nationalities in their colorful dress and flora and fauna.

Yangon Zoological Garden : Located near Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, the Zoo noted for its collection of wild animals, flora and fauna, which have been collected over the years since it was opened in 1906. On weekend and public holidays, snake dance and elephant circus are performed for visitors. It is open daily from 08:00 hours. Entrance Fees- 5 USD

Hlawga Wildlife Park : The Hlawger Wildlife Park is about 45 minute's drive from Yangon. The Park, which covers 1650 acres of land and lake, is home to over 70 kinds of herbivorous animals and 90 species of birds. Flock of migratory birds frequently visits the park. It is an ideal place for picnickers, naturalists, botanists and bird-watchers.

Meditation Centers : There are some main Meditation Centers in Yangon- the Mahasi Meditation Center at 16, Thathana Yeiktha Road, Bahan Township (phone: 95-1-550392), the International Meditation center at 31-A, Inya Myaing Road, Bahan Township (phone: 95-1-5331549), Chanmyay Yeiktha Meditation Center at 55/A. Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Mayangon Township (phone: 95-1-661479), Panditarama Meditation Center at 80/A ,Thanlwin Road, Bahan Township (phone: 95-1-5331448) and Society for Propagation of Vipassana Mogoke Sayadaw's Way at 82, Natmauk Road. Bahan Townships (Phone: 95-1-550184) have facilities for full- time meditation. Aspiring Yogis from abroad should write to the said main centers for detailed information. Others Meditation Centers also available all over the Country.

Allied War Memorial Cemetery : Located at Htaukkyant, about 32 km from Yangon on the road to Bago (Pegu), is a memorial cemetery of Allied Forces Soldiers who scarified their life in the Myanmar during the World War ll. The Cemetery's beautifully kept under the missionary of international veteran organization ground has 27, 000 stone-graves of Commonwealth and allied Forces Soldiers.

Shopping : Myanmar arts and crafts even furniture, mostly pure hand-made, are best souvenirs and prices are very reasonable. Lacquer-wares, silk and cotton fabrics, bags (especially Shan shoulder bags), Burmese cigars and Burmese cheroots, pure silks, various national costumes, and T-shirts with Myanmar alphabet writings are some of the favorite items.

For jewelry, there are Myanmar rubies (the world famous pigeon blood color), sapphires, jades, silver-wares and pearls available at the authorized Myanmar gems shops which will provide the official approval document for the custom of the Yangon International airport.

Yangon Environs

Bago (Pegu) : Bago, the former royal capital of the Mn is located 80 km from Yangon. It takes 2 hours by road from Yangon passing through the landscape of the verdant rice fields. The first settlement on the site of present Bago are Mon people who founded their principality named "Ossa Bago" in 9th Century. In 11 century, it fell under the first Burmese empire of Bagan. It became again the capital of Mon kingdom in 14th century, and was known as "Hanthawaddy Bago". At that time, it was an active harbor for marine trade. In 16th century, the Burmese annexed it again and the king chose it as the royal capital of second Burmese empire. In 16th century, the Arakans destroyed and abandoned the capital. The Mon re-established their capital in Bago but the Burmese kings "Along-phaya" destroyed it completely in 1757. From that time onward, it was no longer as an important harbor with the receding of the sea, and remained a simple city until now. But it is worthy to visit for a day excursion from Yangon. A new international airport is being constructed at present.

Kan baw za Thadi Palace : Bago is one of the richest archaeological sites in Myanmar. The archaeological department made some excavations on the site of the palace of the former royal capital "Han-tha-waddy" founded by king "Ba-yin-naung" in 16th century.

"Ba-yin-naung" (the Napoleon of Myanmar), the founder of second Burmese empire, was a great well-known king in the Burmese history. His military campaign to unify the country, his political and social achievement, and his religious actions are remarkable along his life. He was born from a royal lineage. When he was young, "Ba-yin-naung" was called "Shin-ye-htut". He became one of the generals and at the same time the brother-in-law of the king "Tabin-shwe-hti" in that period. After the great historic battle in "Naung-yoe" in 1538, he won the title of "Ba-yin-naung" that means "the Brother of King". After the death of king "Tabin-shwe-hti", he became king and could unify the whole Burma. He chose "Han-tha-waddy" as the Burmese royal capital and made a construction of palace named "Kan baw za thadi".

The widely-known king "Ba-yin-naung" (the Napoleon of Myanmar) and his palace were described well in detail in Burmese chronicle records as well as by the narrations of the foreigners. The site spreads on about hundred hectares. The royal city was surrounded with ramparts with 20 doors. The royal palace was at the center and the original surrounding wall was in teak. The audience hall was surmounted by a roof 7 tiers that is covered with bronze sheets gilt with gold. There was a Thai style pavilion for his favorite Thai princess. After his death, under the reign of his successor, the capital and its palace were destroyed and abandoned. The site of the former palace has been discovered recently, and some pavilions have been rebuilt on the very original site. The recent palace also includes a museum that displays the objects unearthed on the old site (Potteries, original pillars of teak, various Buddha statues, etc...).
Entrance fee = 10$ per pax for archaeological zone fee.

Shwe-maw-daw Pagoda : Overlooking the plain with its spire 114 m, the "Shwe-maw-daw" pagoda is one of the most venerated pagodas in Burma. According to the legend, this pagoda was constructed by two merchants Mon brothers, "Tha-phu-sa" and "Bha-li-ka" to enshrine two hair-relics of Buddha which they brought from India last 2000 years ago. It has been enlarged and has been rebuilt several times through the centuries due to the damages of earthquakes. Those of 1912, 1917, and 1930 destroyed the pagoda completely and the present pagoda was rebuilt in the years of 1950. During the renovations, some holy relics were added (copies of the Buddha's tooth) to which the pagoda owes its reverence. While walking around the pagoda, one can notice the upper part of which felt down in 1917 at the place of the fall. There is a small museum that contains different vestiges and statuaries recovered after the earthquakes. The pagoda is accessible by four stair-ways full of souvenirs shops.

Maha-zedi Pagoda : Maha-zedi means "Great pagoda" and it was constructed by the Burmese king "Ba-yin-naung" in 1560. The original pagoda sealed up the Buddha's relic (supposedly the Buddha's real famous tooth coming from Candy of Srilanka). In 17 century, the relic was conveyed to upper Burma by a Burmese king, and enshrined in "Kaung-hmu-taw" pagoda in Sagine near Mandalay together with another relic (the emerald alms bowl). After the fall of "Hantha-waddy" in 18 century, the "Maha-Zedi" pagoda was abandoned and destroyed by violent earthquakes. The present pagoda has recently restored in 1982. The men only can go up on the superior terraces by a staircase that offers a panoramic view on the vicinities. In the precinct of pagoda, there is a small temple made of lateritie, and a particular site called "Ba-yin-naung-aung-myway" where the king "Ba-yint-naung"; the Napoleon of Myanmar made a vow for the conquest before he involved in the battle-field. Most Myanmar pilgrims also believe in that particular spot, and made a wish.

Shwe-tha-hlaung Pagoda : The gigantic colossal Buddha Image "Shwe-tha-hlaung" more than 1000 years old is one of the biggest statuaries of lying Buddha and considered to be more alive and elegant. It measures 55 - m long and 16 m of height. Its ear only measures 4.5 - m long. In front of the statue, there is a panel that describes in details all measurements. The position of this statue whose feet point in different directions represents the Buddha's relaxes. On the sole, the 108 distinctive symbols are engraved. The Buddha's head position on a pillow well decorated with glass mosaic and square block that illustrate the life of the Buddha and his eight victory scenes.

According to the legend described on the back of the statue, it has been constructed by a Mon king "Min-ga-di-pa" after hisconversion to the Buddhism in 9th century. It is always maintained by the Buddhist devotees. But after the destruction of Bago by the Burmese in 18th century, the statue has been abandoned in the nature and covered by the jungle. It has been rediscovered by chance in 1881 at the time of a construction of the railroad. It has been restored thus and stake under a shelter made of iron.

Kyaikpun Pagoda : Nearly 3 km from Bago, on the road of Yangon-Bago, is the "Kyaik-pun" pagoda. It consists of four huge seated Buddha Images made of brick lean to a central pillar. These statues of 30 m high represent the four Buddha appeared in this era (Kauk-ka-san-dha, Kaw-na-ga-ma-na, Ka-tha-pha, and Gor-ta-ma). The pagoda was constructed by the order of king "Dha-ma-zeti" in 1476. One among them has been damaged by the earthquake of 1930. It has been renovated already.

Thanlyin ( Syriam) : Only three quarters of an hour of crossing the Yangon or Bago or Hlaing River, or one half-hour of road or by train passing over "Thanhlyin" bridge leads a small town "Thanhlyin". This bridge of one-km long constructed with the help of the Chinese is one of the longest bridges in Burma.

"Thanhlyin" is a small town with a very rural agglomeration. But it was a very active port from 16th century to the middle of to 18th century. In 16th century, an English traveler described this port where the trading ships embarked before going up to "Bago". It was a passage obliged for the all marine trade. In the beginning of 17th century, a Portuguese adventurer, Felipe-de-Brito came to establish a trade-counter with the agreement of an "Arakan" king who dominated the inshore region of the southwest of Burma. He could make a big fortune and he founded his own kingdom with the help of the viceroy of Ga. But, in 1613, a Burmese king conquered it and he has been condemned to death. "Thanhlyin" remained a very important active port until its destruction by the Burmese in 1756. It remains some vestiges of the Portuguese presence there (ruin of Church, stone grave, etc...). During the British time, the English brought the Indians there for the rice-cultivation. Today quite a lot of Indian origin inhabitants live there. Besides the very colorful local market, the town doesn't offer the visitors much.

Four km from "Thanhlyin" is a big golden pagoda, "Kyaik-khauk", situated on small hill. As the pagoda of Shwedagon, it is built in Burmese classic style and enshrined the hair of Buddha and some relics offered by king "Ashoka" of India. The pagoda was originally constructed by a monk named "Ashin-Khaw-laka" according to the legend. Therefore, the pagoda name after its builder, "Kyaik-khaw-la-ka". After the passage of years, the name distorted and became "Kyaik-khauk". The view from the pagoda platform passing over Yangon River is magnificent.

More 14 km from "Kyaik-khauk" is "Kyauk-tan", a small town surrounded with small villages of fishermen. "Kyauk-tan" is known for its "Yl-phaya" pagoda situated on a small island close to the confluent of two rivers of Yangon and Bago. This small sacred island is only accessible by boat and is occupied by the religious buildings. According to the legend, the pagoda would date back more than 2000 years, and the original pagoda reached 3 m of height. In 1940, the former pagoda was embedded in the present pagoda that nearly makes 16 m of height. A pavilion shelters Buddha statue made of marble which can be disassemble into five pieces. There are two distinct characters of the pagoda; this island is never flooded by the water, and the big cat-fishes are always there to receive the food offered by the pilgrims. Being located on the interesting island and good surrounding area "Ye-le" pagoda is one of the most pleasant sites for all pilgrims and visitors.

Places of other interest in Yangon Areas.

Kyaik-ka-san Pagoda, Ko-htat-kyi pagoda, Ngar-htat-kyi pagoda, Shwe Phone Pwint Pagoda, Mo Kaung Pagoda, Maha Bandoola Park, Mingalardon Garden, Kyaikkalo Pagoda, Kayikkalae Pagoda, and Bogyoke Aung San Museum are also interesting places to visit if you have more free time.

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