Locations: Bago, Kyaikhtiyo and Mawlamyaing

Kyaikhtiyo StupaThe Mon peoples are the first group who migrated to Myanmar from central Asia. Instead of the Ayeyarwaddy, they are thought to have ventured down the Thanlwin river and settled along the coast from present-day Malaysia to the Ayeyarwaddy River’s expansive delta. Living by the sea they had close ties with India from where they received Buddhism.

Bago was their last royal capital until 1757 when King Alaungpaya of Inwa occupied lower Myanmar. The other important Mon capital is Thaton, a flourishing port in ancient times. There are many monuments still standing in solemn witness to the glory that once belonged to these capitals. Mawlamyaing is the present capital of Mon state, a charming town on the Martaban gulf. 110 km south of Mawlamyaing the famous Death Railway starts from the town called Thanphyu Zeyet.

One of the most celebrated shrines in this region is the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda situated 166km north east of Yangon at 1100 meter sea level. The small pagoda, just 6 meter high, is erected on a 15 meter circumference boulder which rests precariously on a projecting tabular rock which itself is separated several feet from the mountain by a deep chasm. It is said to have been built during the life-time of the Buddha Gautama over a hair relic obtained by a hermit who kept in his hair-knot until he found a boulder resembling his head on which he could build a pagoda to enshrine the sacred hair. The shrine came into the public eye in 1823 when found by the governor of the Sittang region while hunting in the forests that cover the surrounding mountains. This pagoda is well known as Golden Rock Pagoda because the whole rock is now covered by thick gold leaf from devoted pilgrims.


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