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Pilgrimage: Phaung Daw U Festival
Day 1 Arrival.
Transfer to The Pan Sea Hotel. Burmese cuisine lunch at Green Elephant Restaurant. Half day touring including Chaukhtatkyi and Scott Market. As the sun sets, we’ll visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, most sacred site in the country, where the Buddha’s hair relics are interred inside the huge stupa.
Day 2 Yangon Rangoon Buddha
Morning meditation at Shwe Taung Gone monastery. Afterwards, full day touring in Yangon including meditation centers, Melamu Pagoda, KabaAye Pagoda, Sule Pagoda, Botataung Pagoda and art galleries. Dinner and show at Kandawgyi Palace.
Drive to Kyaikhto (4 hrs) to see Golden Rock Pagoda, visit Bago market and Kyet-khat-wing monastery in Bago on the way to see lunch offering to monks. Transfer to the hotel in Kyaikhto for overnight.
Drive back to Yangon and visit Bago on the way to see Shwemawdaw, Shwethalyaung, Mon weaving village, KyaikpunÊPagoda. Transfer to the Hotel.
Day 5 Bagan
Morning flight Yangon-Bagan by Air Mandalay or Yangon Airways. Deluxe rooms at Thande Hotel (overlooking the Irrawaddy) in the old city/river front cottage.
Across 40 sq km of country, stretching back from the Ayerarawady (Irrawaddy) River, stand thousands of stupas (also called pagodas, zedis or payas, buddhist monuments that are solid interior) and pathos (temples, which one can enter). In every direction you will see ruins of all sizes–huge glorious temples such as Ananda Pahto and small graceful zedis (stupas) standing in the fields next to a residents thatched home. Some contain elegant mural paintings.
Highlights to visit include: Shwezigon Pagoda; a solid cylindrical structure that forms the prototype of Myanmar Stupas, Kyansittha Umin; a tunnel with an interesting feature of mural paintings, Wetkyi-in Gubaukkyi Temple with fine mural paintins of Jataka scenes, Hitlominlo Temple; a double storied structure known for its frieze and pilaster molding and Archaeological Museum. Sunset at Mingalazedi Pagoda; the last stupa built before the Mongols invasion, Nyaung Oo market. Afternoon visit Ananda Temple, Ananda Okkyaung, Manuha Temple, Nanpaya and sunset at Mingalazedi Pagoda.
Full day touring in South Eastern part of Bagan featuring 13th century temples. Sulamani and Damayangyi; a massive temple with the finest brickwork, Nandamanya, Thambula and Laymyetnha; noted for their fine mural paintings, Payathonzu with mural paintings of Mahayanists character; visit East and West Petleik Pagodas; with interesting terra-cotta plaques and Lawkananda; a Pyu-style stupa on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River, continue study lacquerware cottage industries. Afternoon sightseeing tour including Somingyi Okkyaung;a brick monastery, Abeyadana temple; famous for its fine mural paintings on Mahayana Buddhism, Nagayon; the early typed temple of the 11th century, Myingaba Gubyaukkyi; an early style temple with excellent mural paintings, Sunset at Bupaya Pagoda; standing on the bank of the Ayeyarwady River.
Day 7 Excursion to Mt. Poppa
Morning visit nearby Mt. Popa about 60km southeast of Bagan; an extinct volcano and a lot of shrines dedicated to animistic spirits known as ‘Nats’. You can climb Mt. Popa by a covered walkway to reach the complex of pagodas at the summit.
Continue drive to Salay; where you will see one of the oldest monasteries famous for its fine wood carvings, a huge lacquered Buddha made of bamboo strips and some small temples with interesting mural paintings dating from Bagan Era. Drive back to Bagan.
Morning flight to Mandalay
Transfer to Hotel, across from Mandalay Palace
Mandalay was the first capital of Burma, before the British took over and remains an important cultural center. It is the most Burmese of the country’s large cities and its Buddhist monasteries are among the most important.
Visit Mahamuni Pagoda. Proceed to Shwenandaw Monastery; a fine specimen of Myanmar wood-carvings, Kuthodaw Pagoda;known as the World’s Biggest Book as well as the World’s heaviest Book for its marble slabs of Buddhist scriptures, Kyauktawgyi Pagoda; a large Buddha image carved out of a single block of marble.
Sunset on Mandalay Hill..
Full day excursion to Sagaing, Ava and Amarapura.
Sagaing, on the west bank, became the spiritual capital of Burma following the fall of the Pagan dynasty. It boasts hundreds of temples and monasteries, with spectacular views of the Irrawaddy River and Mandalay.
Crossing the old British Raj Ava Bridge, Ava (locally called by its ancient name Inwa) is reached by a short boat ride and is an ancient walled-city, which was one of the Burmese capitals before Mandalay was established in l857. In Ava are old wooden monasteries, ornamented in intricate wooden carving.
In Amarapura, a capital established in l783, we visit the famous Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, 1850, boasting the finest l9th century Buddhist mural painting, combining European and Burmese pictorial conventions. Also visit Bagaya monastery with a famous collection of Buddha images, Mahagandayon Monastery, U Bein Teak Bridge.
Day 10 Mandalay
Morning boat excursion to visit Mingun Pagoda, across the river from Mandalay. Mingun, located about 11 km upriver, is accessible only by river, giving you a short but pleasant insight into river life culture. The village is very friendly and worth exploring. Thousands of slaves labored to build the massive stupa beginning in 1790. An earthquake spilt the monument in 1838 and reduced it to partial rubble. The base of this projected stupa, badly cracked by the earthquake, stands 50m high overlooking the river. Each side of the enormous base measures 72m and the lowest terrace measures 140m. Had the stupa been completed it would have stood 150m high. Climb the zedi on the crumbled corner and from the top you have an incredible view of the Hsinbyume Pagoda, Mingun village and the river. In 1808, Bodawpaya had a gigantic bell constructed to go with his gigantic zedi. Weighing 90 tons, it is claimed to be the largest hung, uncracked bell in the world. The bell is 4 m high and 5m in diameter at the lip. You can scramble under and right inside it. The same earthquake that shook the stupa base, also destroyed the bell’s supports, so it is now hung in a new place close to the riverboat landing.
Afternoon touring in Mandalay: Visit Shwenandaw Monastery; a fine specimen of Myanmar wood-carvings, Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as the world’s biggest book as well as the world’s heaviest book for its marble slabs of Buddhist scriptures; Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, a large Buddha image carved out of a single block of marble and Mahamuni Pagoda. Time permitting, visit craft centers.
Day 11 Pindaya Caves
Morning flt Mandalay/Heho dep 745 am, arr 820am. Drive 1/1/2 hours to PindayaÊto see Pindaya Caves. Pindaya caves are well-known for their over 9,000 Buddha images in different sizes from the 18th century andÊ Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda in Inle Lake area is famous and sacred. Transfer to Conqueror Hotel in Pindaya for overnight.
Day 12 Inle Lake
Drive one hour to Nyaung Shwe, a town on Inle Lake. A twenty minute cruise in a motor boat brings us to Royal Princess Hotel, a charming floating structure of individual cottages in the midst of the lake (lake view chalets). Inle Lake is famous for its unique leg-rowers, diverse tribal groups, and scenic beauty. After lunch, we tour around Inle Lake by boat and see ways of life on the lake. floating markets, floating gardens, fishing and weaving villages.
Day 13 Inle Lake – The Pagoda Festival
The Pagoda Festival procession starts at 7am and proceeds to the monasteries. The procession travels from Lin Kin village across the lake and proceeds to the famous monastery in Nyaung Shwe village. After the procession, visit Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda. Many of the tribal people can be seen dressed in traditional attire onthis day. We may also see Inle lake’s unique leg-rowers. After lunch we again tour around by boat, visiting whatever places we did not the day before.
A twenty minute cruise in a motor boat brings us to Nyaung Shwe, where the barge carrying the buddhashas stopped last night. There will be much fanfare and festivities in the village. We will see diverse tribal groups, traditional music and dance as well as spiritual rituals.
Day 15 Fly Heho-Yangon_Bangkok
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