Myanmar The less-known and the elusive have always been a matter of curiosity. Mandalay, Rangoon, Irrawady – though they sound familiar, very little is known about them. Myanmar, our close neighbour with whom, we have shared a lot of history is a land of mesmerising temples and pagodas. Burma, the former name of Myanmar and a Buddhist nation, has been in existence from the times of the Pagan dynasty during the 11th century. Today, it has been in the news for political reasons, and according to the United Nations, it is the second least developed nation. At the time of the British colonial rule, Burma was the wealthiest country in Southeast Asia, filled with rarities like rubies, oil, and valuable timber.
Yangon more famous as Rangoon, the former capital of Myanmar, is called ‘The Garden City of the East’. It opens the doors to Myanmar and is filled with lush, green parks, tropical vegetation, serene idyllic lakes which are all a contrast to the bustling business centrefilled with noise and activity. The most important, not-to-be-missed attraction is the awe-inspiring Shwedagon Pagoda atop Singuttara Hill. Close to 100 metres tall, the Pagoda, more than 2500 years old, has strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics. Other architectural finesse can be seen in MahaWizira Pagoda and The Karaweik. A delight for the true souvenir hunter, Bogyoke Market with its wide range of goodswhether it is local delicaciesor traditional handicrafts, and antiques or the latest in fashion wear, never fails to lure the curious visitor.
Bagan The magnificent temple town of Myanmar, the first capital of a unified kingdom, Bagan is the heart of intense archaeological activity. Situated on the east bank of the famed Ayeyarwady River, it is covered by 5,000 mysterious and magnificent stupas and hollow pagodas which have stood witness to the glory of an era gone by.
The very landscape makes Bagan or Pagan one of the wonders of the world.It is almost like an overgrown village and does not have any modern entertainment. The places of interest here are Shwezigon Pagoda, Ananda Temple, Bagan Museum and Mount Popa, which is an extinct volcanic mountain.
Mandalay From cool hill resorts to ancient market places, from historical and fascinating monuments to the latest, modern architecture, this last capital of Myanmar kingdom, Mandalay has some really wonderful sights to behold. Mandalay Hill, Mandalay Palace, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Shwe Nandaw Kyaung and a ride in the unique trishaws or horse-drawn carts are the activities of interest in Mandalay.
Inle Lake the marshes, the Inlet Lake is around 13 miles long. Interspersed with houses on stilts, Buddhist temples and floating gardens, flat-bottomed skiffs and motor boats steer around this watery world. The skiffs are water vehicles which are driven by the unique Intha technique of leg rowing. In this technique one leg is wrapped around the paddle to drive the blade through the water. Whitewashed stupas, open markets of the tribes, people moving around in cycles – all give Inle Lake a rural yet an endearing feel. The Wetland Bird Sanctuary is home to many species which are protected. One can spot herons, warblers, cormorants, wild ducks and egrets. Visiting ancient ruined temples, floating villages, gardens and vine yards are the major attractions of this place.