Photo: Bagaya Kyaung monastery.

Inwa (Ava)

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Between the decline of Bagan in the 14th century and the founding of Mandalay in the mid-19th, the city of Inwa, locally known as Ava, was the political centre of Burma. Today the evocative site consists of ancient temples and stupas in varying states of decay scattered across a rustic setting of farmland and villages. It makes for a scenic and atmospheric area to explore.





Initially ruled by Shan lords, a Prince Thadominphya is said to have founded Inwa in 1364 at the confluence of the Myint Nge and Ayeyarwaddy Rivers. He then set about improving defences by constructing massive walls on the south and west land sides of the city and digging a wide moat alongside connecting the two rivers, thus creating an island.

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Despite the excellent position, the capital still shifted locations on five separate occasions, incuding to Amarapura, Mingun and Sagaing, before returning each time to Inwa. In 1838, a series of earthquakes damaged most of the city and led King Tharrawaddy to move the palace away from Inwa, once and for all.

It’s easy to imagine yourself back in time while exploring the ancient ruins and monasteries that dot the landscape. These days, the crumbling brick city wall, originally laid out in the form of a lion to encourage good fortune and prosperity, no longer connects the massive weathered brick gates that watch over the dried up moat, now filled with bean and peanut crops. A section of the central south wall has been restored.

Yadana Sinme Pagoda. Photo taken in or around Inwa (Ava), Mandalay, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

Yadana Sinme Pagoda. Photo: Mark Ord

If you’re arriving by motorised transport, you’ll be dropped in a small carpark by the jetty on the Myint Nge, where you take a short ferry ride across the river to the main entrance track to Inwa. The standard Inwa tour, conducted by pony and trap, makes a wide loop clockwise through farmland south and west of the ancient city before entering the old central section through the western gate and exiting on the eastern side. Usually four sights are included, though you’ll pass by many minor ruins where of course you can ask your driver to stop if ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Inwa (Ava)
South of the Sagaing Bridge Rd, around 20 km from Mandalay

Location map for Inwa (Ava)

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