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WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 33851 [post_author] => 4 [post_date] => 2015-02-02 00:17:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-02-02 00:17:06 [post_content] => DESPITE Myanmar's newly acquired status as the darling of the Asian circuit, there is still much about the nation that remains undiscovered. While renowned for its wealth of pagodas, unblemished countrysides, unspoiled coast, quaint festivities and great lakes, it's also a country of history and has its fair share of fading ancient ruins and tumbledown structures that invoke the dynasties and grandeur of the past. Visiting these places could form part of an excellent itinerary. Mrauk U Located in northern Rakhine State, Mrauk U is often a favourite for those that venture this far in the country and that's because the ruins of the once great dynasty that ruled these parts from 1430 to 1785 form part of the scenic backdrop. Unlike Bagan where the temple area is uninhabited apart from the odd flock of sheep, rice fields and busy villages all continue to operate in Mrauk U as they have for millennia. Some 700 pagodas and temples remain although it is believed that over 6000 once stood in this area. Pathways between the stone figures, temples and pagodas lead to hidden chambers and new discoveries. The great thing about Mrauk U is that it's not as popular as Bagan so you won't have quite the same crowds to battle. [caption id="attachment_33852" align="alignnone" width="654"]Jmhullot - Own work View on Mrauk U right after sunrise from Shwetaung pagoda. View on Mrauk U right after sunrise from Shwetaung pagoda. Pic: Jmhullot.[/caption] Bagan Bagan needs little introduction and is a well known and much visited archaeological site that absolutely should be on your itinerary if you're keen to take in Myanmar's ancient and most beautiful archaeological sites. More than two thousand pagodas fill the plains of Bagan and it's fantastic cycling through by bicycle, sailing overhead by balloon or clopping around in a horse cart. The temples here were built from the 9th to the 13th centuries and while over 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries were built here, there are that have survived. Bagan is located in central Myanmar and many see it is as equivalent to the famed Angkor Wat in Cambodia. [caption id="attachment_33829" align="alignnone" width="654"]The ancient temples of Bagan, Myanmar. Image via Shutterstock. The ancient temples of Bagan, Myanmar. Image via Shutterstock.[/caption] Pindaya caves The Pindaya caves in Shan State are a Buddhist pilgrimage attraction built within the depths of a limestone cave. Inside there are some 8000 images of Buddha, some dating back to the late 1700s although there are plenty of new ones as donors continue to bring more images. The collection is the most impressive in Myanmar with a range of styles, shapes and sizes apparent, giving the impression that people of all means have made their contribution to the gallery. It can be overwhelming walking through the cave with figures in every crook, crevice and wall of the cave. Monks and pilgrims are often praying here so it is best to walk through quietly. [caption id="attachment_33854" align="alignnone" width="640"]"Pindaya Caves 2010" by Uthantofburma at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pindaya_Caves_2010.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Pindaya_Caves_2010.JPG "Pindaya Caves 2010" by Uthantofburma at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pindaya_Caves_2010.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Pindaya_Caves_2010.JPG[/caption] Mingun This rather monumental stupa located on the river 11km from Mandalay was intentionally left unfinished. This was because a prophecy alleged King Bodawpaya, who started the construction in 1790 to advertise his power, would die the day the building was finished. Bodawpaya was the fourth son of King Alaungpaya, founder of the Konbaung dynasty. While incomplete, the Mingun Pahtodawgyi attracts a lot of interest today largely because at 50 metres in height -- only a third of its original intended height -- it's pretty impressive. Many tourists approach by river and the stupa can be seen from the Irawaddy. In 1839 an earthquake damaged part of it and cracks appeared. There is a pagoda nearby that serves as a religious site. [caption id="attachment_33855" align="alignnone" width="620"]Pic: minglabar.net Pic: minglabar.net[/caption] Shwedagon This beloved pagoda in Yangon doesn't actually appear that old with its fresh paint, well kept grounds and other modern touches, but it is thought to be the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world and first constructed 2600 years ago enshrining eight hairs of the Buddha. It obviously was repaired a number of times since then, the most recent in 1970. Today it still dominates the skyline of Yangon and a visit to the former capital is incomplete without doing the circuit around the pagoda. The annual Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is well worth attending. Shwedagon is not the only old pagoda in Yangon. The Botataung Pagoda is thought to have started more than 2000 years ago when Indian monks carried relics of the Buddha to the site where the pagoda stands today. The original structure was bombed in 1943. [caption id="attachment_32751" align="alignnone" width="654"]S Shwedagon pagoda. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com[/caption] Pyu city states The Pyu city states existed from the 2nd to 11th centuries and were part of an overland trade route from China and India that brought wealth to the region. The Pyus were Tibeto-Burman and their records are the earliest recorded of any civilization in Myanmar. Their cities were mostly in upper Myanmar and five have been excavated along with some smaller towns. These include Beikthano in Minbu region, Maingmaw and Binnaka in Kyause region, Halin in the Mu valley and Sri Ksetra in Bago region. The cities were walled, often with gates and stupas. Various jewellery, pottery and other artefacts have been found during their excavation and remnants of the walls and palaces. Visits to these sites are a bit off the beaten track and not all the sites are well marked and organised so you may need to plan well and take a Burmese speaking guide. [post_title] => Touching the ancient past in Myanmar [post_excerpt] => DESPITE Myanmar's newly acquired status as the darling of the Asian circuit, there is still much about the nation that remains undiscovered. While renowned for its wealth of pagodas, unblemished countrysides, unspoiled coast, quaint festivities and great lakes, it's also a country of history and has its fair share of fading ancient ruins and tumbledown structures that invoke the dynasties and grandeur of the past. Visiting these places could form part of an excellent itinerary. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => touching-the-ancient-past-in-myanmar [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-02-02 00:24:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-02-02 00:24:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.travelwireasia.com/?p=33851 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )

Touching the ancient past in Myanmar

Touching the ancient past in Myanmar
February 2, 2015 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

DESPITE Myanmar’s newly acquired status as the darling of the Asian circuit, there is still much about the nation that remains undiscovered. While renowned for its wealth of pagodas, unblemished countrysides, unspoiled coast, quaint festivities and great lakes, it’s also a country of history and has its fair share of fading ancient ruins and tumbledown structures that invoke the dynasties and grandeur of the past. Visiting these places could form part of an excellent itinerary.

10 places to visit in Myanmar’s banner year

10 places to visit in Myanmar’s banner year
January 26, 2015 - 1 Comments - Jo Lane

TOURISM in Myanmar in 2015 is expected to be a bumper year with international visitor numbers not just steadily increasing but liberally booming, as reported in this article recently. And this banner year got off to a flying start with the ASEAN Tourism Forum finishing up this week (January 22-29) attracting up to 2000 delegates…>

Myanmar’s tourism star is on the rise after a record year

Myanmar’s tourism star is on the rise after a record year
January 19, 2015 - 0 Comments - Casey Hynes

The tourism industry has been booming recently, thanks to increased flights, ease of travel, and the government’s increasingly open attitude toward the international community. Ancient sites such as the temples of Bagan, Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, and the archipelagos of Myeik are becoming priority items on more travelers’ Southeast Asia bucket lists, so much so that the Burmese government expects 2015 to be a banner year.

Trekking and homestays in Myanmar’s Shan State

Trekking and homestays in Myanmar’s Shan State
April 2, 2014 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

FOR a taste of rural Burma and the opportunity to enjoy homestays in villages along the way, head to Shan State in the country’s northeast. With rolling hills, few roads and welcoming locals, it’s an experience not to be forgotten.

In pictures: The Buddhas, temples and monasteries of Asia

In pictures: The Buddhas, temples and monasteries of Asia
February 10, 2014 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

FROM enormous Buddha statues to monasteries perched on cliff tops or located in remote valleys, Buddhism plays a huge role across Asia.

Top travel moments of 2013

Top travel moments of 2013
December 6, 2013 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

FROM the anniversary of the Everest climb to airways that charge per weight, the release of films that put tourism on the map and lots of travel awards, 2013 has brought a range of tourism experiences to the Asia-Pacific region.  January Qantas Airways passengers between Cairns and Port Moresby watched a large python clinging to…>

Fantastic destinations to consider in 2014

Fantastic destinations to consider in 2014
November 28, 2013 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

EVEN if you’ve been almost everywhere in Asia, there is always more to see and hidden gems to discover. From China to India, Australia and New Zealand, this list could take you to a riverside town, a sandy beach, crumbling ruins or to meet wildlife in the Asia-Pacific region in the new year. Happy travelling. Fenghuang,…>

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