Myu-U Pagoda Myo Thar Village
Situated one hour South West of Mandalay lies Myu-U Pagoda in the village of Myo Thar. The area on which the main temple has numerous smaller pagodas and cetis surrounding it, the area is quite large, and a little off the beaten track. Not hundred percent sure if I have named this pagoda correctly due to communication problems.
Much of this pagoda is in a state of disrepair, except for the spires on some stupas, which have been more recently repaired and freshly painted with gold. Outside a newly built spire with four large deva figures stand on a large lotus flower. Some of the stupas and cetis (cetiya) have figures of guardian lions on each corner. The work being done on the stupas would indicate that this monastery has been given some importance to warrant such extensive repairs.
Myu-u Pagoda, also known as Ranaung Zeya Temple, was built in the 16th century by King Mong Bar Gri, who reigned over the kingdom of Mrauk-U. The king constructed this temple to commemorate his victory over twelve Bengal towns that were previously conquered by his enemies. The name Myu-u means “eighty thousand” in Burmese, and it refers to the 84,000 holy relics of the Buddha that are said to be enshrined in the main stupa.
The temple complex covers a large area, and it consists of several pagodas, cetis (stupas), shrines, and monasteries. The architecture is a mix of colonial and traditional styles, with some elements showing influences from India and Sri Lanka. The main stupa is surrounded by a gallery with internal passages leading to inner chambers. The walls of the gallery are decorated with stone carvings depicting Buddha images, mythological beasts, and floral motifs.
The temple is in a state of disrepair, except for some spires that have been recently renovated and painted with gold. The facade of the main temple has a large crack running down the center, and some of the structures are crumbling. However, this adds to the charm and authenticity of the place, as it reflects the passage of time and the history of the region.
Several new marble Buddha statues have been donated to the Pagoda, many of them crafted in a style that I am not familiar with, they show wide square flattish faces, with large ears similar to the Ava-style statues. It would appear that an injection of money through donations in recent times is helping to restore this site. The temple shows a colonial-style facade with a gilded spire built on top. The facade of the temple has a large crack running down the centre from the roof to above the entrance, maybe not too long before this crumbles.
Beside the Pagoda is a large wooden monastery which possibly serves a dual purpose of teaching male children the ways of monastic life and housing the young orphans. We were greeted with exuberance by these small children who followed us throughout the tour of the Pagoda, laughing and jostling with each other for attention.
Some of these young boys will become ordained monks and others will follow different paths.