A Trip to Amarapura – Inwa

 

I had made a day trip to Amarapur – Inwa – Sagaing – Mingun, which was a bit of rush to finish four cities in one day. I had written about Amarapura and Inwa in this article.

 

Brief History of Cities

Inwa

Inwa had been the capital city for many times between 14th and 19th centuries. The era between 14th and 16th centuries was called Inwa Era. Although the capital was moved to Taungoo between 16th and 19th centuries, King Bagyidaw moved back to Inwa in 19th century. The classic name of Inwa was ‘Yadanapura’, which means the City of Gems. In 1839, due to a series of earthquakes, the city was abandoned and the capital was moved to Amarapura.

Amarapura

The meaning of Amarapura is the City of Immortality. King Bodaw Phayar built Amarapura in 1783 and that era was called Kongbaung Era. In 1821, King Bagyidaw moved the capital to Inwa and moved back to Amarapura in 1842 after earthquakes in 1938. But King Mindon moved the capital again to Mandalay. Amarapura Palace was dismantled and the materials were reused to build Mandalay Palace. Nowadays, Amarapura is a township of Mandalay city.

 

Where to visit

I visited 3 places in Amarapura and 4 places in Inwa.

1. Amarapura Weaving Workshop

Amarapura weaving is famous in Myanmar due to its beautiful and intricate design and pattern. You can see the hand weaving of cotton and silk clothings. I especially like the cotton scarves as they are lightweight, beautiful and cheap.

2. Maha Gandayon Monastery

The monastery is one of the famous monastic colleges in Myanmar. Thousands of monks stay at the monastery during their learning at the monastery. The tourists are allowed to visit and watch the processing to lunch. The lunch routine has attracted a lot of tourists. Every morning around 10 am, monks come to the dinning halls, queuing in lines carrying their bowls and a towel on their arms. The donors and volunteers spoon the rice and curries into the bowls. The tourist are allowed to line up on the sides of the street but not to cross in front of monks or not to get close. You are not allowed to go into dinning halls while the monks are having lunch (you may be allowed if there are only handful of tourists and it is not disturbing for monks). You can go and see library, bathroom and kitchen where you will see pots and pots of rice and vegetables are prepared and cooked. But if it is not your thing to watch monks walking towards the dinning hall, do not go there.

3. U Bein Bridge

U Bein Bridge was built across Taungthaman Lake and it is the longest teak bridge in the world. It is 1.2 kilometres long. The teak wood posts were taken from Amarapura Palace when it was dismantled. The construction started in 1849 and finished in 1851. The bridge was built in curve shape to endure the wind and water. The bridge has 4 wooden pavilions and 9 passageways for boats and barges where the floor of the bridge can be lifted up. There are 1086 teak wood posts and some of them had been replaced with concrete posts as they got decayed. However, the bridge is still largely original and it is famous as a very photogenic spot especially at the sunset.

4. Inwa Bagaya Monastery

The monastery was built by King Bagyidaw in 1834. It is also known as Maha Waiyan Bonthar Bagaya Monastery. It has 267 teak wood posts and the largest teak post measured 60 feet high and 9 feet in circumference. The monastery is 188 feet in length and 103 feet in breadth. The roof of the monastery has three tiers and the spire has seven tiers. It has 8 brick stairs. The monastery is famous for its beautiful carvings, floral arabesques and sculptures. This magnificent monastery is basically the showcase of artistic work of Inwa Era.

5. Maha Aungmye Bonzan Brick Monastery

The monastery was built by the chief queen of King Bagyidaw, Nanmataw Me Nu in 1822 for the royal abbot Nyanggan Sayardaw U Po. As it was damaged by earthquake in 1838, the daughter of Me Nu, a queen of King Mindon, repaired the monastery. The architecture is the simulation of the wooden monastery and therefore, it has beautiful stucco ornamentations which look like wood carvings with multiple roofs and a seven-tiered prayer hall. The inter passageways lead to the monastery and the brick walls trap the cool air inside.

6. Yadanar Simee Pagoda

A group of ruined stupas and Buddha images. A nice place to take photos of ruined but still beautiful Buddha images.

7. Thapayatan Nanmyint Watch Tower

The tower is 89 feet high. It was damaged by earthquakes in 1838 and was restored. Nowadays, the tower is leaning and the visitors are not allowed to climb onto it due to safety reason.

 

How to get there

The most convenient option will be hiring a taxi or tuk tuk. Usually, taxis and tuk tuks will go to Amarapura-Inwa-Sagaing as a day trip. For the whole day, tuk tuk will cost between 10000-15000 kyats and taxi will cost between 25000-30000. You can negotiate with driver  depending on where you want to go. You can ask your hotel or guest house to arrange day trips for you. You can also hire motorbike taxi or you can rent a motorbike for yourself if you can ride. But be careful when you ride in Mandalay. Mandalay has a lot of motorbikes and they seem to have their own rules of riding. The cheapest option will be taking pick-up bus. The pick up leaves from the corner of 29th and 84th streets near Zay Cho market and goes to Sagaing through Amarapura and Inwa. It only cost 300 kyats. The pick up only leaves when it is full with passengers and so you may have to wait until it is full. If you want to go to U Bein Bridge, the bus stop is near Taungthaman Lake on the main road of Amarapura which is one kilometre away from the Bridge and you will have to walk to the Bridge. The last pick up from the Bridge to Mandalay leaves at 6pm. After 6pm, you will need to hire motorbike taxi or tuk tuk to return to Mandalay. When you go to Inwa, if you go with a cab, you can cross the bridge to arrive directly to Inwa and tour around Inwa with the cab. Or if you want to take a boat ride to cross the river to Inwa, the driver will drop you at jetty where a ferry will pick you up and drop you at Inwa jetty. You will see horse carts waiting for tourists at Inwa jetty. A horse cart carries 2 person and it cost 10000kyats/carriage. Inwa is an ancient city and you will see the ruined city wall, moat and stupas scattered around. The roads in Inwa are dusty and bumpy ones. But it is an enjoyable ride to see those ruins in the countryside. It will take about 2 hours to complete the visit in Inwa.

 

Where to eat

‘Garden of Small River Restaurant’ seems to be a decent one if you would like to eat in Inwa. It is located at Inwa Jetty where the horse carts are waiting for visitors. The tables are prepared under trees in the open compound. It has its own vegetable garden and so, you can get fresh vegetable dishes.

I hope this is useful. Thank you.

 

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