The city of Amarapura, just a few miles south of Mandalay, served as the royal capital of Myanmar (Burma) twice between the 18th and 19th centuries.
Amarapura was founded by King Bodawpaya in 1783 after he seized the throne from his nephew, Phaungkaza Maung Maung. The royal court would transfer back and forth between Amarapura (The City of Immortals) and the city of Innwa (Ava) about 5 miles further south over the next century until King Mindon Min dismantled the Royal Palace and moved the royal court to Mandalay in 1857. The walls of the old palace can still be seen on the edge of the city.
Long known for its cottage industries, Amarapura is a city of tradition. Silk weaving workshops and bronze foundries produce many traditional garments and Buddhist religious icons using techniques passed down through the ages. Beautiful silk longyis (colorful traditional skirts worn by men and women) are common souvenirs purchased by travelers visiting the city on luxury tours of Myanmar.
There are a number of excellent historical sites to explore in the city of Amarapura. The Maha Ganayon Kyaung (Mahar Gandar Yone) monastery is home to roughly 1,000 Buddhist monks, and the site of an intriguing daily ritual where the locals gather to serve the monks food. Feeding the monks is considered one of the greatest merit making activities for the city’s inhabitants, and families wait for months to be part of the daily ceremonies.
The U Bein Bridge (U Pein Bridge) spans the Taungthaman Lake near the Maha Ganayon Kuang monastery, and this simple wooden structure has become one of Amarapura’s most photographed and visited monuments. Built in 1851 by King Mindon Min using teakwood reclaimed from Amarapura’s Royal Palace, U Bein Bridge offers spectacular views of the lake at sunrise and sunset. A boat cruise around Taungthaman Lake to watch the sunset behind U Bein Bridge is one of the most popular excursions in the city.
The Kyauktawgyi Pagoda can be reached by crossing the U Bein Bridge. The Buddhist temple, built in 1847, is thought to have been modeled after the Ananda temple in the city of Bagan. A marble Buddha image resides in the sanctuary, and paintings depicting the Buddhist zodiac frame the entrance ways.
Amarapura’s best weather is generally between November and May when the sky is clear, and the temperature is generally mild. June to October sees warmer weather and higher chances of rain, but the countryside around the city is the most beautiful during the wetter months.
Amarapura’s many charms are readily apparent. The ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries, and the intriguing rituals practiced on their grounds are some of the most memorable experiences on Myanmar tours. The sunset behind U Being Bridge is simply stunning; we consider it a must-see for our guests.
Amarapura became a suburb of Mandalay as the city grew over the last few decades. Amarapura can easily be reached in a private vehicle in as little as 20 minutes from Mandalay.
Appropriate Attire :
For exploring the workshops, town, and Taungthaman Lake, western clothing choices are fine, but it’s important to dress modestly while exploring Buddhist temples and shrines. Clothing that covers shoulders, arms, and knees is a must while on holy ground in Myanmar, and many areas inside temples will require you to remove your shoes before entering.