Myanmar lies to India’s northeast and share a border of nearly 1600 km. It is bigger than Rajasthan and Madhyapradesh combined ! . In fact Myanmar is the second largest country in Southeast Asia The shape of a country is like a kite with a long tapering tail . There are three major riveres of Myanmar of Irrawaddy is the longest which has a length of 2170 km. Coastline distance is of 1930 km. along the Bay of Bengal and Andaman sea . blessed with an abundant monsoon, , this country has fertile soil except in the drier central part, and coastle waters and rivers brimming with fish . There are dense tropical forests with valuable teak trees and rich variety of wild life . It does not lack in mineral wealth either . Besides ores such as tungsten and tin , its rubies , pearls and sapphires are world –renowned as is its high quality jade. It also has crude oil resources and potential for generating geothermal energy . No wonder then that Burma was thought to be the fabled Land of Gold or Suvarnabhoomi!
In the starting of 840 AD., the Bamar, or Burman, a people from southern China settled in central Burma , in a place that come to be known as Pagan(Bagan). The man responsible for unifying the Burmese was Anawrahta who ruled from 1014 AD to 1077 AD. The last king , Thibaw of the Konbaung dynasty , abdicated and was exiled to Ratnagiri in Maharshtra with his family bringing an end to the Monarchy in Burma .
Ironically , the last king of the Mughals in India , Bahadur Shah Zafar II was exiled to Rangoon
Though no longer the official capital, Yangon is Myanmar’s biggest and commercially most important city . It is dominated by the ‘ Winking wonder ‘ – the Shwedagon Paya . One of Buddhism’s sites, it attracts piligrims from all over the world . The stupa stands on the Singuttara hill. The entire complex covers 46 hectares. The 97.5 m high zedi or stupa , is adorned with 27 metric tonnes of gold leaf and thousands of diamond s and othere gems. Four graceful covered stairways lead to main terrace .
According to legend , stupa is 2600 years old . Two merchant brothers, Tapussa and Ballika , met the Buddha who gave them eight6 of his hairs to take back to Myanmar. Then ruled over by King Okkalpa . Okakalapa enshrined the hairs in a temple of gold , togeteher with the relics of three former Buddhas , which were then enclosed in a temple of silver ,, then one of tin, then copper , then lead, then marble and finally one of the brick. The original stupa was probably build by the Mon people between the 6 th and 10 th centuries . It has been rebuilt several times since . In the 15 th century , the royals began offering their own weight in gold for gilding the stupa .
During the 17 th century , the monument suffered earth quake damage on eight occasions. In 1768 , a quake brought down the whole top of the zedi.King Hsinbyushin had it rebuild to its present height
Inle lake :
Myanmar’s second largest lake lies in the Shan Hills in north east Myanmar. Spreading area of this lake is 116 sq. km. Several different ethnic groups live around Inle : the Taunggyo, the Pa-O and the Intha , whse houses are built on stilts on the lake itself . Inthan fishermen row unique flatended canoes which they paddle with their feet, while using both hands to fish !
Village near the lake have thriving cottage industries that include boat making , silver works and lotus silk weaving. The fibre is extracted from the pitch of the lotus stem and then woven into fine cloth
A hot , bustling city on the banks of the Irrawaddy, Mandalay has a number of pagodas, striking churches, Indian temples and mosques amidst the urban sprawl of concrete blocks . On the riverside , there are countless little visited monasteries and range of craft workshop , galleries and theaters.
Everyday thousands venerate the Mahamuni Buddha , 4 m. tall seated image that’s believed to be some 2000 years old. Gold leaf is applied on the figure by male devotees. Years of practice has left the figure with a 15 cm. thick layer of pure gold.
The Mandalay fort can be seen only from the outside. A 69 m wide mote and over 6 km of crenulated 8 m high walls form a vast square around the site of the former citadel and royal palace . The walls are punctuated at regular intervals with gate towers topped by pyramids of carved wood
The marble tablet in the Kuthodaw Pagoda at Mandalay have Buddhist teachings inscribed in Pali Script. They make the world ‘s largest book