The name Amarapura is a Sanskrit word, meaning, Amara (Deathlessness) which entails Deathless City. Being 7 miles (11 km) south of Mandalay, it is commonly called Taungmyo or Southern City.
Beginning with King Badon, five successive monarchs ruled from the city. In 1823, King Bodaw’s grandson and successor, King Bagyidaw shifted his capital to Innwa (Ava). However King Thayarwaddy (1837-46) moved the capital back to Amarapura and it remained the capital until King Mindon founded Mandalay.
There are 12 gates, three each on one side. Above the gates are wooden pavilions and the banks of the moat are properly laid with bricks. As the palace buildings have been dismantled and used in constructing Mandalay City, only part of the old city walls and some religious edifices remained, the treasury building and record office can be seen today.
Outside the city, near the south wall, is the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda built under King Bagyidaw in 1820, finished after 4 years. It has imposing height and the three lower terraces with marble slabs on which Jataka Stories (Buddha’s Birth Stories) are curved in bold relief. In the precincts, a stone inscription describing the golden Myanmar of the pagoda and a large bronze bell are installed. Some relevant keywords, U Bein bridge, King Badon, King Tharyarwaddy, Taungmyo, Amarapura palace, King Bagyidaw, Pahtodawgyipagoda.
Bagaya Kyaung monastery, built during King Bagyidaw, in 1834, made completely of teak wood. Considered as the tallest post ever built with the height of around 60 feet, this monastery shows Myanmar’s typical teak architecture and other historical relics.
The monastery has great decorative feature made from teak showing how creative the local people can be, woodcarvings are also popular decorative items.
Maha Gandayon Monastery
This Maha Ganadayon religious institute is famous for strict training for young monks in the study of Buddhist Texts. Certain rules of conduct are outlined to be sternly enforced. It has been founded since 1914, without being changed or relaxed in giving religious teachings. The late Maha Gandayon Sayadaw was renowned for his teaching and writings on Buddhism.
Maha Gandayon Sayadaw, the most reverend and venerable Abbot of this Buddhist Centre and Institute in Amarapura was adapt and proficient in delivering Buddhist Teachings and guiding Buddhist Vipassana Meditation practices. The Rev. Maha Thera was also the author of multifarious Buddhist Texts and Commentaries whose works are still studied and followed by many devotees and disciples.
What is more, Sayadaw’s Buddhist Centre is eminent for giving Buddhist training and study just like Shwe Kyin, Mingun and other centers.
One could observe how silently and serenely Buddhist students are taking their meals and learning their lessons when one enters the compound.
The mighty U Bein Bridge is the longest teak construction
U Bein Bridge and Taungthaman Lake
Taungthaman Lake lies in between Mandalay and Amarapura, commonly known now-a-days as Taungmyo. The unique feature of this Lake is that it completely dries up during the Summer.
There is a teak wooden bridge that spans the Taungthaman Lake which is (1.2 km) long. It is named U Bein’s Bridge, credited to the builder of the same who was said to be a Town Mayor. The teak framework was constructed 1849 out of the remains of the dismantled structure of the palace when the royal capital was shifted to Mandalay by King Mindon.
The U Bein Bridge has a total of 1086 posts and 482 spans. During the rainy season, the lake is filled to the brim and therein are ducks frolicking, fishermen casting their fishing nets, holiday-makers paddling small boats. Women used to wear, at that time, kaukyoe hats (straw hats) and seen enjoying the scenic beauty and graceful and natural environs. U Bein’s Bridge is more than 200 years old, eloquently proving the strength and durability of world famous Myanmar teak.
Crossing over U Bein bridge from Taungthaman village, one will arrive at MAHA SAKKA RAMSI Pagoda, commonly known as Taungthaman Kyauktawgyi Pagoda.
It is not to be confused with another Kyauktawgyi Pagoda in Mandalay. This one is dedicated by King Bagan being constructed on the lines of famous Ananda Temple of Bagan.
It enshrines an alabaster Buddha image hewn from the Sagaing area,during the reign of King Bagyibaw.
This seated Buddha statue measures 11 ft-9 in (3.5 m) at the base with a height of 17 ft-3 in (5.5m). It is of historical interest for those who have an interest in the contemporary life of Myanmars of that period. Murals on the walls of the image chamber and the ceilings of the covered passage-ways are depicted, scenes of contemporary buildings and the dress and life-style of the Myanmar people of the period.
SHWEKYETYET AND SHWEKYETKYA THE TWIN PAGODAS
These twin pagodas stand on the left bank of the river Ayeyarwady, opposite to Sagaing. The pagodas are said to be built by a King of Bagan in the 12th century. If you look from the summit of the hill where these pagodas are built you will view panorama of the scenic beauty of the environs and the white pagodas on the Sagaing Hill.
THE CHINESE JOSS HOUSE (house of prayer) Since the time of King Bodawpaya, the Chinese residents of Amarapura had built a Temple of Buddha. When King Mindon shifted his capital to Mandalay, the Chinese residents preferred to remain in the city. A street is named as Tayoketan in honor of those residents.