A Pagoda of Monywa, a Fairyland of Faith

Photo - Phoe Nyan

Monywa is the home of the famous landmark Mohnyin Thanboddhay Pagoda complex, with two huge white-washed elephants guarding the entrance, was built in 1940 under the supervision of the Mohnyin Abbot. During WWII it was a refugee camp for those escaping the bombs of either the Allies or the Japanese falling on the cities. The Abbot had housed them and fed all who sought sanctuary.

Enter the gates and you enter a mind-blowing world of whimsical, beautiful and funny touches incorporated into the ornate mix of east and west architecture.
The main pagoda complex is believed to have 582,357 Buddha images of all sizes. You can see them set in tiny rows all over the high towers, ceilings, walls.

Inside the cave-like temple, which is cool and dark immense Buddha images are flanked by thousands of smaller ones, of all sizes. Pilgrims pray in the deep silence and some meditate for hours in the cool cave-like rooms. The rooms lead from one into the other all around the main stupa with gigantic standing Buddha images on the corners.

It is not only the images that are awesome in their numbers. Next to the pagoda complex is the ordination hall, built almost as high as the temple. It is a huge building and what fascinates visitors of all ages are the plaster figures of people worked all over the exterior walls, right up to the roof.

  They are all painted in life-like pastel colours. Their clothes are meticulously picked out in the style, design and fashion of the period.

The craftsmen who worked on all this were true artists. They had an eye for whimsical and humorous touches and one can see that they thoroughly enjoyed their work. On one back wall, there was a door with a dog just going inside so that only its hindquarters and tail could be seen. All this, door and dog, were in plaster.

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Ma Thanegi writes prolifically about Myanmar, especially the people who are the country’s true representatives. She lives in Yangon."


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