Sagaing Region

Sagaing Region is situated in the middle of Myanmar and on the west of it is Chin State and India, on the north is India, on the east are Kachin State, Shan State and Mandalay Region, on the south are Mandalay and Magway Region sharing the common border. It is situated between North Latitude 21′ 30′ and 27′ 30′ and between East Longitude 94′ and 97′. With an area of 36534.714 square miles, Sagaing is the largest among seven Regions. Barmar people mostly live in Kathar and in areas along Mandalay Myitkyina route. Shan are found in upper Chindwin Valley and Kawlin, Wuntho and Pinlebu township. On the northwest ranges there live Nagas on the north and Chins on the south. In upper Mu River Valley and Mezar River Valley there live kadu and Kanan people. Barmars are the majority and Myanmar Language is spoken generally. There are other languages used according to their tradition. The majority of the populace are Buddhists by birth with the minority Christians and animists. Sagaing Region has a population of 5,180,000.

Sagaing is the capital of Sagaing Region in Myanmar. It is located on the Ayeyarwady River, 20 km to the south-west of Mandalay on the opposite bank of the river. Sagaing with numerous Buddhist monasteries is an important religious and monastic center. The pagodas and monasteries crowd the numerous hills along the ridge running parallel to the river. The central pagoda, Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, is connected by a set of covered staircases that run up the 240 m hill. Sagaing was the capital of Sagaing Kingdom (1315–1364), one of the minor kingdoms that rose up after the fall of Bagan dynasty, where one of Thihathu’s sons, Athinkhaya, established himself. During the Ava period (1364–1555), the city was the common fief of the crown prince or senior princes. The city briefly became the royal capital between 1760 and 1763 in the reign of King Naung Daw Gyi. Today, with about 70,000 inhabitants, the city is part of Mandalay built-up area with more than 1,022,000 inhabitants estimated in 2011. The city is a frequent tourist destination of day trippers. The city is home to the Sagaing Institute of Education, the Sagaing Education College, Sagaing University, Technological University (Sagaing), co-operative university (Sagaing).

• Sagaing Hill

Once you cross the Inwa Bridge, the visitor will see the hilltops, each crested with a pagoda, the banners proclaiming the Buddha’s teaching, the refuge from all ills and tribulations where over 600 monasteries for monks and nuns are located for Buddhist studies and meditation. The Panda Myazedi dates from 1300 while the U min Thonze or thirty caves pagoda has many Buddha images in a crescent shaped colonnade. Mural paintings can be seen in the Tilawa Guru cave temple which was built around 1672. At the nearby village of Ywahtaung the visitor can see silver workers producing bowls and other silver items by traditional methods. The most impressive Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda nearby was constructed in 1312. The view of Sagaing from Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin and its approach is marvelous.

• Swan Oo Pone Nya Shin Pagoda

HSoon Oo Ponnya Shin Pagoda lies atop Nga-pha Hill. one of the 37 hilltops of Sagaing Hills. The hill resembles a frog and hence it was known as Nga-Pha Hill. It was built in 674 by a Sage U Ponnya of Pintaya Tazeeshin Thihathu. It enshrined Buddha relics revered by successive kings. Since its construction, it is known to have the earliest Hsoon (Food. rice) offered by celestial beings before any by human beings. It is also the first pagoda offered Hsoon on the full-moon day of Waso every year of all hilltop ones. It is 96 feet and four inches high. The umbrella is 25 feet and seven inches high. It is reputed to grant 14 wishes such as being free of killing by others, getting promotions and having an insight into things and events. 

• U Min Thonze Pagoda

The hill is located to the North-East of the city and rises 230 ,metre (or) 954 feet above the surrounding area. There are over 1700 steps to get the summit of it. Legend says that our Lord Buddha Gautama resided there in His previous existences as the kings of elephant, quail, lizard and sambur that is why that hill is quite venerated for Bauddhists and known for far and wide so much. On the summit of that hill, there are two stucco-figures of gigantic snakes and a pagoda call Su-Taung-Pyae pagoda. Along the eastern covered stairway from the top to the foot, the spiritual house of the grand-forefather is a little down to the relic chamber building at the top. There is a museum conducted by that of hermit U Khanti, backyard, there are a rest house in 9 marabins or spans, a grave of cholera plant or sal-trees, a grand chapel for preaching hall.

• Kaung Mu Taw Pagoda

Kaungmudaw Pagoda, also called Yaza Mani Sula, is a huge pagoda 10km beyond the town of Sagaing in central Myanmar. It was built by King Thalun and his son in A.D 1636. The dome shaped pagoda rises up to 46 meters. At the base of the pagoda, there are 812 stone pillars, each one with a hollow and an image of a Nat in it. It was modeled after the Mahaceti Pagoda in Sri Lanka. The stupa enshrined the Buddhist relics inside its relic chamber. The pagoda dome had been continuously painted white to signify purity but now gilded with gold. It is one of the famous pilgrimage and tourist destinations in the Sagaing area.

• Ywa Htaung Village

Ywathaung Village is situated south of Sagaing. It is home to renowned for a large number of very skilled silversmiths who work here the precious metal according to the ways of old traditions passed down to them by their ancestors. They are hammering out of the silver the most beautiful products using age-old techniques and tools. According to historical records and archaeological finds the so-called Burmese silver work was independently developed by the Pyu and Mon. Silver-ware workshop can be found on the way of Sagaing – Monywa high-way road in Ywa-Htaung village. Various kinds of silverware such as jewelleries, bowls, trays, boxes and buddha images are made.

• Tilawkaguru Cave

Tilawkaguru Cave monastery is one of the monasteries on the Sagaing hillside. It was a meditation cave which was built around 1672. Bright reds, yellows, blues but especially turquoise that produced richer more vivid mural paintings can still be seen in the Tilawa Guru Meditation Caves.

• Shwe Kyet Yet Pagoda

Shwe Kyet Yet Pagoda lies on Shwe Kyet Yet Hill, also known as Mandagiri while embryo Buddha was reborn a king of chicken in his early lives. It is one of the 84.000 pagodas built by King Thiri Dhamma Thawka in Sakarit 218. It was renovated by King Anawrahta in 411 and Narapate Sithu of Bagan in 537. Narapate Sithu built Aungswagyi and Aungswange pagodas and Narapati Sithu Pagoda nearby. Shwe Kyet Yet Pagoda was further renovated by Queen Tarapya of Sagaing. King Swasawke. Thalun. Sinbyushin. Bodawpaya’s son Thiri Maha Dham-mabizaya Thihathu. Bagyidaw. Bagan King’s consort Mindon’s queen of the northern palace. However most of the statues and ancient buildings seen today are those of King Bagan.

Shwe Bo which is famous for glazed pottery works from toys, cups, letters, bowls, pots to huge water jars that are tied in hundreds and floated down the river as rafts. These are widely used throughout the country. Shwebo was the native town of U Aung Zeya, the founder of the Konbaung Dynasty against the rule of the Mon Monarchy in 1752 and lasted over two centuries. He subdued all the war-lords and racial chieftains and unified the whole country under one kingdom. As Shwebo was the first capital of the last dynasty of Myanmar kings. There is a belief that the land in this place is a land of victory. Even after the capital was shifted to other places, the King, their royal officials and high ranking army commanders used to come back to tread the “earth of victory land” at Shwebo. in a ceremonial way. During colonial times this belief was discouraged, but still the people. continued to believe that before any important undertaking the victory land at Shwebo should be trod. After Independence. the people of Shwebo under the guidance of Webu Sayadaw. built a Victory Land Pagoda and established a Victory Land Enclosure. and also a monastery called Aung Mye Kyaung Daik or Victory Land Monastery. Visitors nowadays usually take back a handful of Victory earth to keep in their houses. The place and other royal parks. lakes. moats and watch tower have been neglected. disrepaired. ravaged and ruined in the last two centuries. With the promotion of the tourism industry. the government has launched upon the reconstruction of the palace buildings. parks and dredged the royal lake for the benefit of the visitors and locals. Shwebo can be reached by car or rail from Mandalay under four hours. The Pyu culture dating back to the second century A.D. flourished at Hanlin. the ruins of which can still be seen. a few miles south of Shwebo. Travel by car under less than an hour. It is the rice bowl of Upper Myanmar with vast stretches of paddy land. Shwe Bo is 64 miles north of Mandalay on the motor and railroad to Myitkyina. It is 17 miles west of Kyauk Myaung. a river-side town on the Ayeyarwady river.

• Shwe Chet Thoe Pagoda

Shwe Chet Thoe Pagoda was built by king Alaung Hpaya. The site of the pagoda was where U Aung Zeyar (The King) was born and his umbilical cord buried. King Hsin Byu Shin. son of King Alaung Hpaya donated the bell and the Chief Queen Khin Yun San of King Alaung Hpaya donated the Tower for this bell.

• Mya Theindan Pagoda

Mya Theindan Pagoda in Shwebo was also built by King Alaung Hpaya in his deeds of merit. When the successors of King Alaung Hpaya shifted the capital to Central Myanmar, most of the royal buildings and  were neglected and left to dereliction. With the passage of time over one and a half centuries this pagoda was so dilapidated that in 1918 the famous Myanmar novelist James Hla Gyaw repaired, renovated and installed a new ornamental finial. Hti in Myanmar means umbrella. On the demise of the donor, his ashes were interred in the walled enclosure at this pagoda.

• Zabu Simee Pagoda

This pagoda was built by U Hpo Mya & Mai Palaung. the parents of Queen Khin Yam San. the Chief Queen of King Alaung Hpaya. It was a deed of merit and the name means “Oil Lamp of Jambudipa”.

• Shwe Tansar Pagoda

This pagoda is one of the oldest in Shwebo. It is supposed to have been built by King Alaung Sithu of the Bagan Dynasty. The important aspect with a famous image of Buddha carved out of a very fragrant wood. This image is called the Shwe Tazar means Ornament of Beatitude and the pagoda derives its name from this image. The image is so famous that Kings of Myanmar had vied for it and had taken it to the different capitals viz.. Inwa. Hantha Waddy. Taungoo and back to Inwa. Sagaing and finally to Shwebo.

• Shwe Thein Daw Pagoda

This pagoda is also one of the oldest in Shwebo and dates back to the Bagan Period. It derives its name from the venerable Thein (Sima) or Ordination Hall where monks are ordained into the Order. The inscriptions on the two bells in the pagoda were donated by King Badon mentions that the pagoda was built by King Narapati Sithu. Its unusual feature is that it is enclosed within three walls. The outer two walls are in ruins due to dereliction but the innermost stone wall is well preserved. A visit to these ancient pagodas would be worth the trouble.

Hanlin is a village near Shwebo in the Sagaing Division of Myanmar. In the era of the Pyu city-states it was a city of considerable significance, possibly a local capital replacing Sri Ksetra. Today the modest village is noted for its hot springs and archaeological sites. Hanlin, Beikthano, and Sri Kestra, the ancient cities of the Pyu Kingdom were built on the irrigated fields of the dry zone of the Ayeyarwady River basin. They were inscribed by UNESCO on its List of World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia in May 2014 for their archaeological heritage traced back more than 1,000 years to between 200 BC and 900 AD. The archaeological sites of Hanlin are located above the village in the Watlet Township, Shwebo District, Sagaing Division. It is 12 miles (19 km) to the southeast of Shwebo where 33 archaeological mound excavations have been carried out. The village is slightly above the surrounding flat land. Following the inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage Sites, approach road conditions for a distance of 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Shwebo to Halin are now under improvement with funding provided by Italy. Hanlin’s history is linked to the history of the Pyu people who lived between the 2nd century BC to the 9th century AD in the kingdoms that existed at Bhinneka, Mongamo, Sri Kshetra, and Halingyi. They spoke the Tibeto-Burman languages. Trade was conducted with China and India. The Pyu’s authority extended to eighteen kingdoms, most of them in the southern region of Myanmar. They were refined in their behavior, dress habits, culture, art, and were Buddhists of the Sarvastivada school. The architectural styles which evolved from the 11th to 14th centuries are evident in the Pagan area. Initially their capital city was Sri Kshetra, at the northern edge of the Irrawaddy River delta. In the 7th century they moved their capital to Halingyi which is in a dry zone. For trade purposes with foreign countries they still operated from Sri Kshetra. Their southern neighbours were the Mon people who were followers of Theravada Buddhism. Archaeological findings indicate that habitation existed in this area since the Bronze age, and that Hanlin was established by the Pyu people only during the 1st or 2nd century BC. Archaeologists have opined that Hanlin was the largest Pyu city until the 9th century AD.

Monywa is a city in Sagaing Region, Myanmar, located 136 km north-west of Mandalay on the eastern bank of the River Chindwin. It is also known as Neem city because most of the streets of the city are covered by very old Neem trees. It is one of the Unique Cities of the World.

• Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda

Shwe Gu Ni Buddha Image lies in Kyaukka village ten miles east of Monywa Township in Sagaing Division. The 33 meters high Buddha Image is sticked by gold foils and the original face of Buddha Image is hardly to see because of a thick quote of gold. It was one of the 34.000 pagodas built by King Thin Dharma Thawka. At that time Kyaukka was known as Kyaukthan and it was known as Myo-Oo Athawka pagoda at the head of the city. A new pagoda was built on top of it by the King of Kyaukka under the reign of King Min Aung Gyi of Innwa in 762. It was then known as Kyaukka Shwegu Pagoda. In 1000 under King Thalun. the pagoda was damaged and the original pagoda was retraced and built anew by Ashin Nyana Myint Zu. the Sayadaw of Kyaukka. It was then known as Kyaukka Shwe Gu Ni. In 1189. under King Bagyidaw Phannanshin. the Sayadaw of Kyaukka rebuilt it to be 34 cubits at its base and 72 cubits in its height up to the diamond bud. In the cave is a reclining pagoda four cubits high. The pagoda festival is held in May (Myanmar month Kason) each year when the whole compound is crowded with locals.

• Moe Nyin Thanboddhay Pagoda

Thanboddhay Pagoda is the major tourist attraction of Monywa. It was erected in M.E 1301 by Mohnyin Sayadaw. The main stupa contains 582363 Buddha images of all sizes row upon row in ascending tiers in niches both interior and exterior walls. It was dedicated to the 512028 Buddhas who became enlightened during Gotama Buddha births in the cycle of Samsara. The pagoda compound is very wide and contains many pavilions, rest houses and a large square pool where fish and turtles are allowed to live free. There are also a few old wooden pavilions with beautiful and colourful stucco figures, flowers and animals. One pagoda with a tower is called the Arlain Nga Sint, or the Five Stages Spiral Tower. The entrance is guarded by two huge white elephants. The length of each elephant is 36 feet and the height to the diamond bud is 48 feet. The pagoda festival is held in November. Thanboddhay is the only pagoda with this unique shape in the whole country.

• Bodi Ta Htaung Pagoda

Bodhi Tahtaung Pagoda in Monywa has one thousand Bodhi Trees and each tree has a large Buddha Image underneath. It was established by Bodhi Tahtaung Sayadaw in 1960s. Po Khaung Taung, a range of hills, lies east of Bodhi Tahtaung Pagoda. The largest reclining Buddha image in the world which is 91 meters long is lying on that hill. This huge image has a hollow cave-like structure inside and you can walk from head to toes. Some of the important events in the life of the Buddha are displaying inside the image.

• Lay Kyun Set Kya Standing Buddha

Laykyun Setkyar Standing Buddha Image was built by Bodhi Tahtaung Sayadaw (venerable monk). It is the second tallest Buddha Image in the world at 116 meters. It is also located on Po Khaung Taung just behind the reclining Buddha image. It was built the hollow type. Can climb by stairs inside the structure to see the panoramic view. It took 11 years to finish. Since its completion in 2008, the image has become one of the main tourist attractions in Myanmar.

• Nyaunggan Village

Nyaungdon is a village located on the bank of Chindwin River in Budalin Township, Monywa District, Sagaing Region. A cemetery, near Nyaunggan Village, was excavated in 1998 and 1999. The excavation involved five pits. Most of the skeletons with bones in site were extended and supine primary burials, although there was one secondary burial, consisting of a skull in a large pot. There were spearheads of bronze, arrowheads and axes. Other objects are stone bracelets, which were still found at the joints. Ceramics in burials contained food sacrifices. There were also beads made of different materials.

• Pho Win Hill

Pho Win Hill is located on the west bank of Chindwin river and 25 kilometers west of Monywa. It is about 20 minutes walk up the hill. There are about 900 sandstone caves which contain many carved Buddha images and well preserved mural paintings. Some caves have beautiful exterior decorations. Some caves have large collections of ancient Buddha images some of which have been covered in gold leaf by local pilgrims. There are wonderful mural paintings in vivid colours representing Burmese life and Jataka stories. Pho Win Hill’s unique Buddha Images and precious paintings have been dated to between the 14th and 18th centuries. This hill is thought to be South East Asia’s richest collection of Buddhist mural paintings and images.

• Twin Taung

Twin Taung is about 6 miles east west of Budalin Township. It is about 200 meters above the surrounding area. There is a natural lake where very rare Spirulina is found. Spirulina is used in cosmetic and medical products. There is a Spirulina production factory at the base of the hill. The scenery around this beautiful lake is also breathtaking and worth the visit.

• Alaungdaw Kathapa Pagoda

It is one of the most famous pagodas in the region, located in the center of the Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park. There is a shrine to one of Buddha’s saintly disciples, Maha Kathapa (Maha Kassapa). This shrine dedicated to Alaungdaw Kathapa (literally, the embryo-Kathapa) is located inside the park boundaries. The shrine has a reclining figure called Kathapa and it is believed that his remains are kept under the shrine. Hundreds and thousands of pilgrims pay homage to the Pagoda annually during the dry season.

• Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park

Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park is located in Minkin township of Sagaing Region. Established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1941 and opened as a National Park in 1984, it is the largest National Park in Myanmar. The Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park is one of the most famous parks with the Burmese populace. It is more of a religious site than a national park, drawing at least 30,000 pilgrims a year paying homage to the shrine of Alaungdaw Kathapa. The area itself is extremely isolated, elephants being the only means of transport to enter the park and forest. A small group of monks care for the shrine of Alaungdaw Kathapa, and along with authorities from the Forestry Department and Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division coordinate to educate visitors about conservation and wildlife.

• Shwe Ba Hill

Shwe Ba Hill is located on the west bank of Chindwin river just beyond the Pho Win Hill. Many caves and temples are carved out from the surrounding volcanic rocks and filled with ancient Buddha Images. 13th century mural paintings can be seen in some of the caves inside walls. Those caves and temples are between the walk through narrow cliffs which is lead down by stone stairs.

• Htan Ta Lote Stream

Htan Ta Loke Chaung (Chaung means stream) is a famous picnic spots in Kyaukka village, Monywa. There is a waterfall and cold stream that comes from an underground spring. It is surrounded by big boulders and shady trees. The place is also good for bathing in the stream and trekking walk.

• Kyaukka Village

Kyaukka village is only 12 miles from Monywa just beyond the Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda. It is a big village and is well known for the crafting of black lacquerware called Kyaukka ware. Kyaukka lacquerwares are heavier and more refined and artistic than Bagan lacquerwares. Typical black and gold lacquerwares from Kyaukka village is the pagoda festival’s speciality in Upper Myanmar. The whole Kyaukka village was crowded when celebrates the Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda Festival in May.

Kyaukmyaung is a town in Sagaing Division, Myanmar. It is situated 46 miles north of Mandalay on the west bank of the River Irrawaddy, and 17 miles east of Shwebo by road. It marks the end of the third defile of the Irrawaddy. Kyaukmyaung is a pottery village where the majority of the 15,000 residents who live there participate in the San Oh, or pottery industry in some way. Kyaukmyaung is the home to the only 4 large scale glaze factories in upper Myanmar. The largest is Nweyein. Ceramic traditions in this area were first started in the ma-u and Ohn Bin Villages in the 18th century when 5,000 Mon war captives were settled in the area by King Alaungpaya (1752–1760) after his conquest of Bago. Earlier the Peguans from the south had rebelled and deposed the King of Ava. Aung Zeya (later Alaungpaya), chief of Moksobo (later Shwebo), led his countrymen in a revolt against the Mon, and collected a fleet at Kyaukmyaung where he defeated the advancing Mon. KyaukMyaung is gathering fame as a tourist destination. More tour groups are stopping here as part of cruise ships on the Irrawaddy river cruises often stop here on their tours from Bagan to Mandalay.This has brought the town much tourism from Europe and America and lead to a creation of a shop where tourists can buy the ceramics on site.

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