Home to more than half a million Buddha images
Published/Last edited or updated: 16th September, 2016
The principal worshipping hall of Thanboddhay Paya or Monastery, set amid an extensive complex of shrines, stupas and monastic buildings, is said to house more than half a million Buddha images. It's a stunning sight.
Conveniently placed around half way to Bodhi Tataung, this is another of Monywa’s extraordinary things to see. The red, gold and mauve exterior is unusual, but the interior walls, lined floor to ceiling with tiny Buddhas, is remarkable. Shady corridors, occasionally brightly lit where a window lets rays in, linked by archways and larger Buddha images creates some stunning visuals. Pale blue and beige tiles line the floor and the overall effect – in contrast to the gaudy outside – is subtle.
And that’s just the main hall! The remainder of the closely knit surrounding buildings are finished in a variety of pastel shades: orange, blue, green, pink, with multi-layered roofs and spires creating a kind of fairy-tale Buddhist chateau. It’s what Ludwig II of Bavaria may have built had he been Buddhist. One adjacent temple even has a stupa-topped viewing tower, though we weren’t convinced the rusty spiral, exterior staircase was really built for our weight.
The site is said to have originated in the 14th century, though much of what you see today dates from a mid-20th century reconstruction. This is a spectacular location that more than justifies its 3,000 kyat entrance fee.
Address: 10km southeast of Monywa, off the main Mandalay highway
Coordinates (for GPS): 95º12'55.96" E, 22º4'9.14" N
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Admission: $3 or 3,000 kyat
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.