If you are travelling to Monwya by car you should stop about 20 kilometres before you reach the town to visit this most unusual Buddhist temple complex on 37 acres of land which is part of the Mohnyin Forest Monastery retreat. The pagoda was started on 20th June 1939 and completed on 2nd March 1952. It was the brain-child of the famous Mohnyin Sayadaw whose life-like effigy can be seen nearby.
Some visitors say that this Pagoda reminds them of Borobodur, as it is similar in architectural design. Unlike Borobodur this is a modern place of worship, well maintained, and with interesting samples of modern Buddhist art. There are many different Buddha images, row upon row in ascending tiers in niches along the walls: the total number is 582, 257, an amazing figure! Unlike most of the pagodas in Myanmar, the entrance is not guarded by Chinthes, the mythical lions, but by statues of a pair of magnificant white elephants which are sacred and auspicious in Buddhist symbolism.
Thanboddhay is the only pagoda with this unique shape in the whole country. The square temple base (each side about 166 feet) which worshippers can enter is topped by receding terraces, with myriads of small stupas (864 in number) surrounding the central golden chedi, 132 feet in height.
Tourists can study and take photos of the twenty tagundaing, huge decorated pillars, and also big masonary fruits in the shape of bunches of bananas and coconuts, water melon, mangos, jackfruits, papaya and so on . These fruits are also objects of veneration for the local farmers.
If you can go at the beginning of the Myanmar month of Tazaungmone ( usually around November), you can see the annual pagoda festival, which goes on for several days when the villagers from all around come to enjoy the music and dancing, and buy from the various stalls set up by sellers from all over the country.
Monywa is a city in Sagaing Division, Myanmar, located 136 km northwest of Mandalay on the eastern bank of the River Chindwin.
Sagaing Division is an administrative division of Myanmar, located in the north-western part of the country between latitude 21° 30' north and longitude 94° 97' east. It is bordered by India’s Nagaland and Manipur States to the north, Kachin State, Shan State, and Mandalay Division to the east, Mandalay Division and Magway Division to the south, with the Ayeyarwady River forming a greater part of its eastern and also southern boundary, and Chin State and India to the west. The division has an area of 93,527 km², and population (1996) of over 5,300,000. The capital is Sagaing.
Sagaing Division consists of 198 wards and villages, 38 townships and eight districts; Sagaing, Shwebo, Monywa, Katha, Kale, Tamu, Mawlaik and Hkamti. The major cities are Sagaing, Monywa, Shwebo, Katha, Kale, Tamu, Mawlaik and Hkamti. Mingun with its famous bell is located near Sagaing but can be reached across the Ayeyarwady from Mandalay.
After the fall of Pagan in 1287, the northwestern parts of Upper Myanmar came under the Sagaing Kingdom (1315-1364) ruled by Burmanized Shan kings. The area was ruled by the kings of Ava from 1364 to 1555 and the kings of Taungoo from 1555 to 1752. Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885), founded by king Alaungpaya in Shwebo, became the last Burmese dynasty before the British conquest of Upper Burma in 1885. The area became Sagaing Division after the Burmese independence in January 1948.
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