Photo: View from Sagaing Hill.

Sagaing

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Just southwest of Mandalay and across the Ayeyarwaddy River, white and gold pagodas decorate the hillsides of the ancient capital of Sagaing, sometimes referred to as mini-Bagan. Several hundred monasteries and nunneries dot these holy hills, home to some 6,000 monks and nuns.





Sagaing, now the capital of the eponymously named state, began life as the capital of an independent Shan Kingdom from 1315-1364, before the action moved across the river to Inwa. Sagaing tootled along quite happily with an occasional new pagoda here and fresh stupa there until it experienced a second flowering as the Burmese royal capital from 1760 till 1763, during King Naungdawgyi’s reign. Then the fidgety capital moved back again to Inwa.

Stunning Sagaing Hill. Photo taken in or around Sagaing, Mandalay, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

Stunning Sagaing Hill. Photo: Mark Ord

Its present incarnation falls somewhere between small provincial town and Mandalay satellite and it is curious how present day capitals of two such vast provinces are located a stone’s throw from each other across the river. Unlike larger neighbour Mandalay, which has just the one hill, Sagaing has a range of tree-covered hills stretching along the riverbank which, liberally sprinkled with gold and white stupa spires, creates an iconically Asian scene. Its pagodas and temples make for a very popular side trip from Mandalay and since the access bridge across the Ayeyarwaddy is to the south of Mandalay, it’s easily combined with Inwa and Amarapura. The three sights make for a splendid day tour plus, at a pinch, you could include the other west bank ancient city of Mingun too, though Mingun is usually visited by boat. Note too that as Sagaing is the start of the road to Monywa, if you were doing a daytrip out that way you could make Sagaing Hill a stop on the way if ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
Sagaing’s too far for Mandalay guesthouse bicycles so either a rental motorbike or taxi is the way to go if you’re travelling independently. A local taxi-truck (500 kyat), available from the corner of 29th and 84th street in Mandalay, will drop you by Sagaing market, from where you need to hire a moto-taxi. Return taxi fare from Mandalay would be around 20,000 kyat, or around 35,000 if you want to include U Bein as well.

There is a country lane that links Sagaing to Mingun, but drivers will balk a bit at the 40 kilometre round trip, so Mingun is best reached by boat from Mandalay’s Strand Road jetty.

Location map for Sagaing

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