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September 16, 2019

A must-visit place in Mandalay

The 180-year-old wooden monastery has Buddha statues in different positions and styles.  Photo: Min Htet Aung (Mandalay sub-printing house)
The 180-year-old wooden monastery has Buddha statues in different positions and styles. 
Photo: Min Htet Aung (Mandalay sub-printing house)

A 180-year-old wooden monastery with its Buddha statues in different positions and styles, including in the lotus position, is a must-visit place in Mandalay.
The Amarapura-era monastery, whose name roughly means “the unrivaled one,” was built with wood by a son of King Thayawady as a donation to Buddhist monks.
“Normally, an ancient monastery has four large traditional chambers — KyaungOoPyathat hall, Sanu hall, Zetawun hall and Boga hall. But this one has only three, and instead of the Boga chamber, it has two additional chambers, each lying on either side of Zetawun hall,” said U Ravata, a monk who is in-charge of preserving the whole building.
Built with 146 teak columns, the 89-foot by 69-foot building has doors decorated with figures of celestial beings and floral designs. Unlike other ancient monasteries, it has only one wooden stairway linked with a portico.
“In ancient times, whenever a donation ceremony was held at this monastery, a Buddha statue was donated for it. Buddha images were donated to the monastery for specific purposes. We are an old monastery, and it is a wooden one. So we have to be aware of the fire hazards aside from the maintenance work we have conducted throughout the successive eras.
Although the government department responsible for archaeological matters told us that we could ask for help when necessary, the department has not done any preservation work yet at our monastery,” said the monk.
In addition to ancient Buddha statues and thrones, the monastery also has teak boxes decorated with embossed figures, ancient palm leaf treatises, bronze bells, and inner decorations of the Amarapura era.
The ancient monastery now sits at Tagontaing ward, Pyigyitagon Township, Mandalay.—Min Htet Aung (Mandalay sub-printing house)

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