In the journey of discovery Mandalay, visitors will admire the famous and sacred hill of Myanmar - Mandalay Hill.
Situated in the northeast of Mandalay downtown, this 240 metre (790 ft) hill is the famous place of pilgrimage for Myanmar Buddhists as well as a great attraction for travelers, including many pagodas and monasteries with characterized Buddhist architecture. There are four covered stairways leading up to the top of the hill from four directions: east, west, southand north. Two white huge Chinthes, mythical creature (half-lion, half-dragon) in Myanmar legendary, have guarded the entrance of these stairs for nearly two centuries. The southern stairway with 1,729 steps was used most but pilgrims and visitors can climb by other side one or choose the escalator, cars or buses to up the top easier and faster. However, climbing yourself is really an interesting and unforgettable experience as well as the expression of devotion to the Buddha. It's absolutely not too hard because more stops placed along the way, where you will see plenty of counters selling flowers, food, drink and items of Buddhism for visitors and pilgrims, most especially the dazaung of U Khanti, a great hermit who laid the foundations for the buildings and four stairways of the hill. It’s believed to keep three fragments of bone of the Gautama Buddha called the Peshawar Relics from 1923 until the Second World War ended when they were transferred to a building at the foothills. On the way leaving U Khanti's dazaung, travelers will see frieze paintings and 28 Buddhas statues representing the past and present.
From the hilltop, visitors can admire the spectacular overall picture of Mandalay flooded with fresh green, along with winding dirt roads, meandering Ayeyarwady River, ancient stupas, the old Royal Palace and Fortress. Sunset from Mandalay Hill is a gorgeous scene you should not miss. Near the top, a giant standing Buddha statue called the Shweyattaw or Byadeippay Buddha is pointing toward the plains in Mandalay, which illustrates the prophecy of Gautama Buddha about the establishment of Mandalay. Moreover, on the ascent, there are images of different creatures; each of them represents one rebirth of reincarnation before becoming Buddha such as a rabbit, a duck or a lizard. In the north of the hill, the Sutaungpyei Pagoda called the Mwegyi hnakaung (Two Great Snakes) Pagoda was built after two huge snakes were found nearby unfinished construction works in Mandalay Hill. Pilgrims put money in the cobra statues' mouths and pray lucky.
Mandalay hill really is a great place to not only enjoy the scenery but also learn more about the history of Buddhism as well as Mandalay city.