The Unfinished Glory of Mandalay’s Mingun Temple
Monumental structures, that have withstood the test of time, have always held a special place in the hearts of the locals. In many countries, having a spectacular landmark built during an important time in their historic timeline, is not only culturally satisfying but also, a great way to preserve great works of art. Though most of the structures have either been completed during the final hours of an era or have been renovated overtime, crumbling or unfinished give travelers a sense of mystery and wonder – sending them thoughts of what could have or have been. In the Mandalay Township in Myanmar, there is one marvelous site that gives off that particular vibe, and it is called Mingun Temple.
Locally known as Mingun Pathodawgyi, this incomplete monument is located northwest of Mandalay in the Sagian Region in the country’s central. The remains were once a construction project that was headed by King Bodwapaya, in the year 1790, and was intentionally left it in that condition. Like a porcelain portal leading into the depths of the mountain, Mingun Temple is a destination travelers need to visit. However, trip Guru would like to remind potential visitors that before entering the temple, they must take off their shoes and socks because it is a place of sacred worship.
Besides the astonishing maroon steps that lead to the entrance way, the temple holds another piece of reliquary treasure. The Mingun Bell is located within the temple’s complex and is completely made out of bronze, which is believed to have been inserted with gold, silver ornaments, and pieces of jewelry. Standing over 3.7 meters and weighs in about 90 tons, it is the largest working bell in the world, and was built by King Bodawpaya in the year 1808. It was meant to be installed at the top of the giant stupa but since the monument was meant to be unfinished, it has become its own attraction instead. The temple is open daily during the hours of daylight and tickets cost around $4. This will allow you to enter the Sagaing-Mingun archaeological zone, the temple itself and other nearby monuments.
Getting to Mingun Temple from Mandalay is quite an adventure. Boats leave the pier near the Irrawaddy River around 9:00AM and leaves Mingun at around 1:00PM. It will cost around 5,000 MKK for the round trip.