Monywa is a city in Sagaing Division, Northern Myanmar. It is located 136 km north-west of Mandalay on the eastern bank of the Chindwin River. It is along the Mandalay-Budalin branch railway line but is best reached by bus as the road from Mandalay is in reasonably good shape.
Monywa is a major trade center for agricultural produce from the surrounding Chindwin Valley, especially beans, orange pulses and jiggery (palm sugar). In addition, the local industry includes mills for the production of cotton, flour, noodles, and edible oils. Monywa's rough cotton blankets are famous throughout Myanmar. Other regional crafts include bamboo and reed products, bullock carts and agricultural implements.
Lots of tuk tuk are available to take you around.
INTERESTING PLACES IN MONYWA
Thanboddhay Pagoda: Located about 20 km southeast of Monywa, or about 30-45 mins in tuktuk. Built between 1939 and 1952, the unique feature of this pagoda is its plenty small sculptures of Buddha. There is a little tower just opposite the pagoda which can be climbed. Entrance fee for foreigners: 3$.
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 elephants is 36 feet and the heigh 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.
Boddhi Tataung: (Bodhi Tahtaung means one thousand Bodhi trees) 4 km from Thanboddhay Pagoda, stand 2 big statues of Buddha and a golden pagoda which makes a pretty amazing sight. One Buddha is standing and another is lying on its side. You can enter the inside of the standing Buddha which consists of quite a few stories. The images on the walls are mostly depicting hell.
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.
Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda
About 20 miles east of Monywa, there is a famous Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda dating from the 14th century. 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. The pagoda festival is held in May (Myanmar month Kason) each year when the whole compound is crowded with locals.
Laykyun Setkyar Standing Buddha Image
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. Visitor can climb by stairs inside the structure to see the panoramic view. It took 11 years to finish. Since its completing in 2008, the image has become one of the main tourist attractions in Myanmar.
Pho Win Hills
Pho Win Hill is located on the west bank of Chindwin River and 25 kilometers west of Monywa. It is about 20 minutes to 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.
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.
It is one of the most famous pagodas in the region, located in the center of the Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park. Hundreds and thousands of pilgrims pay homage to the Pagoda annually during the dry season.
Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park
It 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.
Kyaukka village is only 12 miles from Monywa just beyond the Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda. It is a big village and 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.
Htan Ta Loke 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.
Twin Taung (or) Twin Hill
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 cosemtic 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.