Amarapura is a popular tourist day-trip destination from Mandalay as it is situated just 11 km south of the city.
Amarapura is a former capital of Myanmar, and now a township of Mandalay. It lies on the left bank of the Irrawaddy River. Amarapura means ‘City of Immortality’, though its period of prominence lasted just less than 70 years.
Established in 1857, Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar, located on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River. Like other cities in Myanmar, Mandalay is home to many temples and a system of monasteries with a very unique architecture. Besides those magnificent works of art, Mandalay also possesses many other interesting spots waiting for tourists to discover. One place that visitors should note down their “must-go” checklist is Amarapura, a township of Mandalay city.
The first place that visitors can stop by is Pahtodawgyi. King Bodawpaya built this stupa with the wish to create a temple with the architecture of the largest pyramid in the world. However, when this building was under construction, the King suddenly passed away and the stupa was forever unfinished. Visiting Pahtodawgyi, tourists will feel overwhelmed by this outstanding orange-colored masterpiece made of fired bricks. The entrance is very small yet the inside is surprisingly spacious. Stepping inside, visitors will be impressed with the sparkling treasures and a marble Buddha statue in the center. Walking down the corridors, you will find yourself lost in the wonderful murals painted on the walls, portraying ancient Burmese astrology as well as the daily life of the locals.
Mingun Pahtodawgyi, the ruined temple in Amarapura
Built in 1910, Mahagandayon is a well-known monastic college complex and a worth visiting spot in Amarapura. Coming to Mahagandayon, tourists will have a chance to experience a day in a life of a monk such as walking around the central complex of dining halls, teaching areas; witnessing the monks line up for their lunch meals.
Monastery of Mahagandayon
Young Buddhist monks queue for lunch in Mahagandayon
It is regrettable to leave Amarapura without stopping by U Bein Bridge, awarded by CNN as one of the 12 best sunset spots in the world. The 1,200m-long U Bein Bridge, is the longest and oldest wooden bridge in the world, formed from more than 1,000 wooden pillars and wooden floor panels. Visitors can sit on the shores of Taungthaman lake or use the boat to get a close-up view of the legendary bridge that gleams into the lake and blends in the midst of the romance of sunset.
The wooden U Bein Bridge
The U Bein Bridge at sunset
The main feature of the charming little town of Amarapura is its many workshops. Long known for its silk weaving, Amarapura is the site of a weaving school. From practically every house you can hear the clacking of the looms as they produce the most exquisite longyis (traditional sarong-style garment) of cotton or silk. There are many bronze foundries and woodcarvers providing devotional objects such as Buddha images and gongs for the lucrative market in nearby Mandalay.
Thein Nyo silk weaving factory in Amarapura
The best time to visit Amarapura is from November to February. From downtown Mandalay, tourists can hire motorbikes to get to Amarapura. Many tours around Amarapura are smartly designed from 9am to 6pm for visitors to choose from.