Burma

Burma travel, pictures, people & more

The country remained in isolation throughout the longest period of history. One result of this was that her type grew more and more distinct. The isolation was because of the geographical position. Shut away in a corner of the earth between mountain wastes and the ocean. The kindred nations settled within the same natural confines, one after another came under the sway of the central government.

They fought among themselves and they traded among themselves ; the wars and the commerce of the greater world beyond affected them little. No base of attack was near enough for the ancient conditions of warfare.

On the west the seas were too wide for the transport of armies ; on the east high mountain ranges blocked the efforts of China to push her way to the coast. Left entirely to her own resources, she developed her character in independence. It preserves a large measure of its original freshness and charm.

Detached from the contact of other civilization, the seed-corn of a spiritual influence was brought to her shore from afar, and took root and spread until it pervaded her whole life. The one extraneous influence under which she fell proved of a paramount order.

The inspiration of Buddhism was broadly human, not racial.

Every people might take its message to heart in their own individual way. The restraints it enjoined and the ideals it held up became the occasions to unfold her own inmost nature.

The abounding treasury of Buddhist legend furnished the subjects to exercise her poetic fancy. In the fifth century, long after Buddhism had declined at its source in India, and when it only prevailed in Ceylon, its real progress began among the people who were to give it an enduring home. This religion is popularly credited with five hundred millions of adherents.

Burma Buddha Mural Painting Bagan

Burma culture with mural painting at some temples at Bagan

Burma Buddha Mural Painting Bagan Temple

 

The millions of Buddhists in Burma and perhaps twentieth of that number in Ceylon, together with the half million Jains of India, are practical Buddhists of the world.

With the rest has sunk to an empty name, as in China and Japan, or it is lax, as in slain, or it is utterly transformed, as in Tibet.

Burma  Natives 17 th Century

Burma Horseman 17 th Century

Two centuries away the phrase ..further India.. gives point to a wide misconception. The surprise of so many persons on finding that here is no caste to take the commonest instance betrays the notion that the country is part of India. The phrase Indo-China is also misleading unless in respect of geography. In respect of climate, flora and fauna, Further India is not inapplicable. A probable Indo-Aryan admixture exists in the north-coast (Arakan – Rakhine). But the country is as distinct from India as Tibet itself.

Burma Bagan Panorama
Bagan pagoda and temple panorama

Burmese Lady 18 Century

Burmese Lady with Umbrella 18 Century

 

The original Burman tribes

are conjectured to have pushed their way south from the mountains of Tibet. They divided into three principal branches, Arakan (Rakhaing, Yakaing) on the west, Shan on the east, and Burma (Bama), which attained to the chief position, in the middle, on the northern Irrawaddy. Nothing is known of the early days of these nations. But it is certain that in 1000 A.D. this was a large and powerful kingdom, with its seat at Bagan.

Burma Bagan Pagoda Golden DomeBurma Bagan Pagodas late afternoon

Burma Bagan Oxcart and Pagodas

buddha in burma
Buddha in Burma at a Bagan temple

Burma Bagan Gubyaukgyi Pagoda Window
Bagan Gubyaukgyi Pagoda Window

Burma Bagan Women fill water

Burma Bagan River Boat Pagoda

About that time the first historical conquest of the lower Irrawaddy

was effected. From the fact that the country was not permanently subdued it may be inferred that the power of the Mon or Pegu (later called Talaing) was not greatly inferior to that of the Burman. The Mons, from the affinities of their language, are conjectured to be of Annamitic origin. There is mention of the Bagan kingdom independently of the chronicles, and there is above all the evidence of the ruins of Bagan, probably the mightiest of their kind. They testify to the power of the kingdom and the influence of the religion which actuated the kings to build temples on such a scale.

Burma Portuguese Church at Syriam 17 th Century
Portuguese Church at Syriam 17 th Century

Burma Portuguese Grave at Syriam 17 th Century
Portuguese Grave at Syriam 17 th. Century

Burma  Htukkant Thein Temple at Mraung-U or Myohaung Rakhine or Arakan  Myanmar

 

 

 

 

 

In 300 A.D. the power of the kingdom had spent itself,

in a great degree owing, to the drain of the temple-building. But the force of the religion was unabated. The state fell a prey to Shan invaders, who snatched the dominion for nearly two hundred years but failed to consolidate it, splitting up into principalities like those of their native hills. The

weakness allowed the Mon power to develop. The sixteenth century saw the rise of Pegu and the establishment of a shifting empire. Exhausted.. by wars, Pegu in turn declined and lay at the mercy of Siam ( Yodaya) when Paung (Taung – ngu) came to the rescue. In the seventeenth century the Peguan dynasty brought the Mutt umpire to its zenith, from which it waned in the eighteenth.

Towards the middle of the latter century the Emmaus under Alaiung Paya rose against the Mum garrisons, overthrew Pegu and finally established the empire. Arakan – Rakhine was incorporated, Siam was subjugated and made tributary for a time. The empire directed its ambition to the west. Manipur was overrun and the Arakanese pretensions inn 1571 the country was in a state of chaos. High officials plotted against King Mong Phaloung. Astrologers advised the king to build the  Htukkant Thein Temple with the help of the plotters as well as governors, land-lords and common people. They acted according to a saying common at that time, ‘when the city is worn, support its ceiling.’ The temple was built on a 70 metre by 80 metre platform. The structure is built of stone blocks with brick pagodas on top of the hall and on the four corners. Inside the temple there are two pavements with many images and carvings picturing the various donors. It is a very interesting collection of different costumes and ornaments. Sixty four varieties of coiffure, forty different head-dresses, twenty different bracelets, eighty-one rings, sixteen types of pendant and various other body decorations are a creative showcase.

 

The Shite-thaung Temple

Shite-thaung Temple Mrauk U.jpg

Shite-thaung Temple at Mrauk U

a great travel destination is Mrauk-U or Myohaung in Arakan or Rakhine, plenty of ancient still can be seen one of the big temple is the Temple of Eighty Thousand Images, was erected in 1536.The building was funded by a donation from King Mong Ba Gree to commemorate the victory over the twelve provinces of Bengal and the Portuguese marauders who came to assault the capital. The basic structure is a hall topped by a main stupa surrounded by 26 smaller stupas. The temple is 53 meters long, 41 meters wide and 29 meters high. There are several passage ways with galleries throughout the inner temple. The temple is richly decorated with statues of Buddha as well as images of the animals or persons which Gautama Buddha occupied in his 550 previous life’s. People in native costumes with faded colors are shown wrestling, boxing and dancing.

This beautiful landscape with the Sakyamanaung pagoda in the centre is typical of the Mraunk U area. The hills
and valleys are dotted with dozens of pagodas, temples and lakes.

Burma Sakyamanaung Pagoda Mraung-U or Myohaung Rakhine or Arakan  Myanmar
Sakyamanaung Pagoda at Mrauk-U

 

Shwedagon Pagoda 18 th. Century
 Burma  Entrance Shwedagon Pagoda 18 th Century

Burma Shwedagon Pagoda 18 th Century

The Bumans had no intelligence branch in the shape of a sea-borne trade of their own. So they provoked a trial of strength. and after a struggle, which they made a long and well-nigh desperate one for their well-equipped opponents, succumbed. Burman empire was over, the ancient kingdom only remained. The people had learned the lesson, but not so their rulers, who suffered affairs to come to a thrice-repeated crisis.

The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy)

is the lifeline of the people. It springs forth from the Himalayas coming down to two rivulets, Mae Kha and Mali Kha (Myitsone) in the Kachin State, in the far north. It runs from north to south and eventually emptying out into the Andaman Sea.

Ayeyarwady’s name has been curved in stone inscriptions in the days of yore just as the name Myanmar is
mentioned in the same. Ayeyarwady has fed the country with food and sustenance and has witnessed the water –sheds and landmarks all along its colorful course.

Burma The Ayeyawady (Irrawaddy) 17th Century
The Ayeyawady (Irrawaddy) 17th Century

Burma Ayeyawady (Irrawaddy) Freight Sailing Ship 17th Century
Freight Sailing Ship 17th Century

The road from Yangon to Mandalay is 693 km long and is shorter than 935 km long river way; and is longer than 617 km long railway. The passage passes through cultivated plains, green groves of trees and glistening array of pagodas and stupas.

The first stretch is from Yangon to Bago, formerly called Pegu and Hanthawaddy, which produces basic crops. In Indakaw, there are rubber plantations. The Kingdom of Hanthawaddy – Bago was founded by two brothers, Thamala and Wimala in the 9th century. In the 15th century, only Myanmar Queen, Shin Saw Pu reigned there. She was noted for her renovation of the Shwedagon pagoda of Yangon. In the following century, King Bayinnaung, founder of the Second Empire and conqueror of Ten Directions held his court and unified the whole Myanmar nation. Famous pagodas here are Shwemawdaw, Shwethalyaung (Reclining Buddha) Mahazedi, Kyaikpun and Kalyani Sima. The most imposing palace built by the great King Bayinnaung was Kanbawzathadi Palace, which is now rebuilt as before.

bago pegu lake monastery myanmar burma

Pegu lake monastery at th entrance to the city Taungoo

burma boys and buffalo

This is another old city, 200 km from Bago. It bestirred nostalgic memories of Natshinnaung, warrior poet whose love for lovely Princess Yazadatukalyar knew no bounds.

A notable spot nearby is Thandaung, a hill resort. Nearby is the Mawchi Mines which produces tin and wolfram. Famous products here are bananas, tea and coffee.

Pyinmana

Beyond is the Yezin dam and a complex of teaching institutes on agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry

Meikhtila
The rain is scarce here less than 125 cm a year. There are no more paddy and rice fields but crops as groundnuts, sesamum, beans and pulses are thriving products. Meikhtila Lake is well-known and prominent. There are songs eulogizing peace and beauty of the lake.
There is a nursey rhyme which runs:
“ Please pick up a small frog from
Lake Meikhtila,
If you have caught one,
Kindly offer me a small creature
with pouting small eyes and thin body.”
Meikhtila’s location is strategic. It is the point of access to the Shan State in the east, with Taungyi, its capital, 170 km away. To the west lies Kyaukpadaung, where there are oilfields and the Ayeyarwady valley

Mandalay

U Bein teak bridge Mandalay - Amarapura Myanmar

From Meikhtila to Mandalay it stretches 152 km. Before arriving, one will come across Kyaukse, the ancient home and granary of agricultureand the rice bowl of successive Kingdoms. Here, famous King Anawrahta started to build his first Empire that lasted more than two centuries.

It is too well known to dwell at length about Mandalay, the royal capital of the last two Myanmar Kings of Konbaung dynasty. It is the hub and heartland of Myanmar culture, arts and crafts and the seat of Theravada Buddhism. These culture heritage still lingers.

Bagan is the old capital

Burma Bagan Lady 18 Century

Bagan is also highly reputed for Myanmar art and architecture, sculpture and painting, archaeological findings and artifacts and is world-famous for thousand and one pagodas, stupas, cetis, religious edifices and buildings.

Suffice it to say that, these cultural values can only be appreciated by a personal visit there. The Road to Mandalay or the river cruise is in fact, a window to the beauty and wealth of Myanmar Naingngan.

Tattooing in the country

Before or after the monastic novitiate, it is the custom to have themselves tattooed from the waist to the knee. Not to submit to this ordeal is to incur the reproach of cowardice. The tattooing is ;in intricate pattern of animals and tracery.

Owing to the extent of surface involved, the process is most painful. It occupies days or weeks, according to the fortitude of the subject, who is drugged with opium for the occasion. The instrument has a handle weighted at the butt, and a long point of bronze, split like a ruling-pen.