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Mingun is a village north of Mandalay famous for its unfinished huge pagoda – Mingun Paya. To avoid the hordes of tourists we rented a boat in Mandalay and went by our own on a 1h trip up the Ayeyarway river. Even far from reaching shore the impressive Mingun Paya started to develop on our eyes.
By order of King Bodawpaya, construction began in 1790 with thousands of slaves and prisoners of war, to build the largest pagoda on this planet. Construction halted at 1/3 of its expected final height of 150 meters in 1819 when the King died. Later in 1838 a huge earthquake was responsible for the cracked look we can see today. The land around the pagoda is now a grazing holy ground for coffee milk colored cows.
Climbing barefoot to the pagoda’s top is not an easy task, but we managed to accomplish it with the help of our three friends who guided us around Mingun. From there, the green view is amazing over the landscape and the Ayeyarwady river.
But Mingun is not all about the Paya, its 90 tonnes gigantic bell makes another icon not to miss. Being 4.95 m tall and 3.66 m wide makes this the largest uncracked bell in the world. One can even go inside and tremble to its dizzying noise.
Inside, the bell’s bronze surface is all covered with inscriptions.
Like everywhere in Myanmar people are very friendly and smiling all the time. Here’s a mom cutting her kids nails near an abandoned temple.
One other unusual sighting in Mingun is the Hsinbyume Paya, built in 1816 by orders of King Bgyidaw. It is believed that the temple was built as a representation to Sulamani Paya, a temple Buddhists believe stands on top of a mountain at the centre of the universe. Form me, this temple was quite different from the others I’ve seen, and being all white I got a nice feeling of peace walking around it.
To end the adventure, our boat’s engine broke down and we had to wait 1h for a tow boat, which made the trip really wonderful sitting on a chair on the deck feeling the warm Ayeyarwady breeze, watching the night sky and listening to some nice music.