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December 26, 2003
|Mandalay exists as the 'kid brother' to four ancient cities nearby, the 'deserted cities' of Mandalay. Burmese kings displayed finicky tastes by founding a new capital city at the beginning of a new reign. Palaces sprang like mushrooms around Mandalay's countryside. We visited one of the deserted cities, called Mingun, by taking the only route available: a boat trip 11 kilometers up the Ayeyarwady River. Mingun came to life with the reign of King Bodawpaya in the late 1700's.|
|If King Bodawpaya had his royal way, then he would have built the world's largest Buddhist temple. He may have succeeded in building the largest brick pile after an earthquake split the structure and finished construction efforts. What's left towers 50 meters high, 1/3 of the intended height (it's the tan, cracked building on the right hand side of the picture).|
Even though the foundation's falling apart, visitors climb to the top for a view of undamaged temples in Mingun.
Size mattered to the Mingun builders. They also built the world's largest working bell. Stand inside and these mini-monks will ring it for you - a reverberating experience.
Buddhist monks will help light incense or take prayer/meditation sessions.