Sagaing’s classical name, Zeyapura, means the ‘city of victory’. The region, located at the north-western part of Myanmar, was the capital of the Sagaing Kingdom. It was one of the few kingdoms that managed to rise despite the fall of the Bagan dynasty and was also known to be the princes’ province during the Ava period. The region plays an important role as a religious centre and is known to have a great many. The Sagaing Hill, one of the main places for meditation in the country, is also known to have great meditation centres. Sagaing is home to numerous Buddhist monasteries and pagodas located on hills and parallel to the river, creating a magnificent view that would awe tourists visiting the area. Sagaing is home to the famous Naga Festival where tourists from all over the world would come to witness this unique and culturally rich celebration.
The people of Sagaing are descents of the Bamar, Shan, Naga, and Chin people. They all speak Burmese and practise Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.
The region has a local steppe climate with an average rainfall of 807mm. Sagaing is bordered by Kachin State, Shan State, Mandalay Region, Magway Region, Chin State, and India. The region’s size is 93.527 km².
Sagaing is rich with religious sites and is known as one of the main places for meditation in Myanmar. The population of this area is 5.325 million (2014).
Sagaing is home to some of the most popular pagodas in Myanmar. Sagaing Hill itself is abundant with hundreds of pagodas of different shapes and sizes. Some places require lengthy and winding journeys to the top, but the bottom view is worth all the effort. From golden pagodas, to those with unique shapes and designs, tourists would be astonished by the spectacular sight of the pagodas found all over the Sagaing region. Tourists can make a trip to Mingun, Sagaing Division to see one of the most famous pagodas in the world: the Min Kun Pahto Taw Gwi Pagoda. The pagoda was among the four pagodas built by King Bodawpaya in the 18th century but was left incomplete due to a legendary prophecy. Visitors can also see the magnificent Mya Thein Tan Pagoda which is surrounded by seven terraces. The pagoda was once damaged by an earthquake and was restored by one of the kings.
Known as a place of beautiful landmarks and historical sites, Sagaing has an abundance of old buildings and 6 places rich with impressive history and heritage of the region and its people. The Shweboyadanar Mingla Palace boasts detailed architecture and is a credit to the management of Past Myanmar Kings. As the region is also well-known as a religious centre, tourists can visit many monasteries which dot the area to learn more about the architecture as well as witness the monks and nuns, conducting prayers, rituals, and meditation. Visitors should not miss the chance to visit the historical Hanlin Ancient City which is one of the three Pyu cities on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list. Discover more pagodas, springs and antique remains and inscriptions found in the timeworn city.
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Sagaing is also known for its cane ware. Cane chairs, tables, settees, flower trays, pillows, and baskets could be found all over the region. These cane wares are made in Tintein, Mankyisin and Makyikone village in Sagaing township. Handcrafted by the locals, the cane products in Sagaing are made with high-quality cane along with great skills from the cane-weavers. Rattan canes in this region are often sought after by neighbouring countries. The export of rattan canes contributes largely to the country’s economy. With more than 200 available cane-weavers who are eager to pass down their knowledge and expertise in the art of hand-crafted cane ware, visitors have the chance to witness the complex process of cane-weaving and also buy some of the products. There are several showrooms and sales-centres in the downtown area available for tourists to visit.
Shwe Bo Yadanar Mingalar Palace
Founded in 1753 AD, the city walls of the royal palace are more than 200 metres long with each side equipped with 10 gates. The palace has numerous halls and was decorated with beautiful and detailed arts. Excavation activities revealed a hidden platform underneath the palace grounds that has kept various ancient records and drawings. The palace was reconstructed in 1999.
Hanlin Ancient City
Famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Sites, this ancient city once housed a large village that was the capital city of the Pyu city-state. Listed as one of the three Pyu cities under the UNESCO World Heritage Site, this timeworn city is the place where the wondrous glory of ancient Pyu city state. The city is also known for its hot springs.
Ahnyarthihataw pagoda is located in the middle of the Ayeyarwaddy river in Khinoo Township. Buddha relics were enshrined in it after it was constructed near the river. Ahnyarthihataw’s majestic design allows it to emit a spectrum of colours when lights touch the surface, presenting tourists with a breathtaking view. On his 32nd birthday, King Alaungsithu renovated the place and extended Ahnyarthihataw’s height to reach 16 metres.
Moehnyin Sambuddhe Pagoda
The pagoda, built in 1939 by U Thumana(Moehnyin Sayadaw) is an amazing piece of architecture that is famous all around the world. The most intriguing part of the pagoda is the stupa which has 582,363 Buddha images in rows in each tier, of the interior and exterior walls. The place is packed with travelers for the festival on the full moon day of Tazaungmone.
The name ‘Boditahtaung’ means ‘1,000 Buddhas’. Sayadaw U Narada planted Bodi Trees, built pagodas and Buddha statues there before he passed away. The second tallest standing Buddha in the world towers over the surrounding landscape. Inside the torso, there are stairways with beautiful paintings that visitors will love. The lower stairways depict scenes from hell, which could be gruesome or disturbing for some tourists.
The massive Mingun Pahtodawgyi pagoda was intended to be the largest in the country. The pagoda was left incomplete due to a prophecy that mentioned the downfall of the country upon its completion. The remains of two 29m tall lions are still guarding the pagoda. The huge entrance facing the river is richly decorated and the huge cracks in the structure are from an earthquake of 1838.
Ancient Cultural Relic Of Nyaunggan
Ancient relics found in Nyaunggan are older than those found in Hanlin and these relics represent the early development of Nyaunggan’s civilisation. Plots 5*5 metres were found and 12 plots were found to contain relics, bones, weapons, and fossils. Further excavation activities also revealed a brick wall that could be a city wall of past civilisations.
At 4m high, the Mingun Bell is considered the largest ringing bell in the world. It is rung by striking its exterior with a wooden log. The number 55555 inscribed in Burmese script on the bell’s surface represents its weight in viss, which is about 90 tons. The bell was meant for Mingun Pahtodawgyi, but as the stupa was never finished, it is now housed nearby.
Tilawka Guru Cave
The old mural and paintings on the walls of the cave showcase the beauty of Myanmar’s amazing expertise in art and architecture. The art of painting in Myanmar began between the 11th and 13th century and blossomed during the Pin Ya, Sagaing, Ava, and Amarapura eras. The murals representing the history of Buddha may have faded, but the intricate details are still widely acknowledged and admired.
Phoe Win Taung
Mainly decorated with Buddha images made of stone, Phoe Win Taung is widely known for its historical value. For reasons known to few, King Pyulawa and the King from Taung Pyone ordered the same sculptor to carve and shape the stones into images of the Buddha. There are 446,444 images on the hill, providing a magnificent sight for visitors.
A Laung Taw Kathapha
A Laung Taw Kathapha Elephant Camp is located in Kani Township and can be found in a forested area in the heart of Maharmying National Garden. Visitors can reach it from Kani or Monyawa and will pass several villages and log-housing camps. The long travelling duration is replaced with a relaxing bath in the water of “Thitsar well” located near the cave.
Kaungmudaw Pagoda, also called Yaza Mani Sula is located 10 kilometres from Innwa. It was built by King Thalun and his son in A.D 1636. Its egg-shaped design is something unusual for a Burmese pagoda. The enormous dome rises up to 46 metres. At the base of the pagoda, there are 812 stone pillars, each hollow space with an image of a Nat in it.
Ariya Wuntha Monastery
This monastery is situated on Sagaing Hill and is named after a monk who once resided there. It is a beautiful place with intricate wooden crafts and a neat architecture which gives off a peaceful vibe, attracting many people to visit. Its location on the hill makes it a quiet place undisturbed by the city noise.
Mya Thein Tan Pagoda
King Bagyidaw built the stunning Mya Thein Tan(Hsinbyume) pagoda to honour his late wife. The design differed from the usual pagoda designs in Myanmar as this pagoda and its seven terraces depict the Sulamani pagoda and mountains of the mythical Mount Meru from the Buddhist mythology. In 1874, King Mindon restored the pagoda after it was damaged in an earthquake in 1838.