In the hills South East of Monywa is the Maha Bodhi Ta Htaung, a Burmese monastery known for its two giant images of the Buddha. The images on top of a hill dominate the area and can be seen from far away. The large grounds at the foot of the hill is dotted with thousands of seated Buddha images under Bodhi trees.
Reclining Buddha image
At 90 meters long and 20 meters high the Monywa reclining Buddha is one of the largest in the world. The image dressed in a golden robe resting on a golden pedestal portrays the Buddha on the eve of death and entering into Nirvana.
The image completed in 1991 is hollow; visitors can walk through the interior in which 9,000 small Buddha images are on display.
Standing Buddha image
Towering above the landscape is the Laykyun Setkyar Buddha, a standing image of the Buddha dressed in a golden robe. The stairs to the platform where the image is on is guarded by two large white Chinthes, mythological creatures resembling a lion.
The 31 storey image measures 116 meters high (129 meters including pedestal). It was completed in 2008. The image is hollow; visitors can climb to nearly the top. The ground floor exhibits a number of Buddha images in several mudras.
On the walls of the image’s interior are murals depicting scenes from Buddhist hell and the punishments received by those who stay there. Some rather graphic scenes show the punishments for every type of sin. From the top of the image visitors have great views of the surrounding country side with the mountains in the background.
Aung Sakkya Pagoda
At the foot of the hill is the Aung Sakkya Pagoda, completed in 1979. The 70 meter high pagoda consists of a white base and a golden stupa topped with a hti, an ornamental top element found on most Burmese pagodas. It is surrounded by over a thousand small pagodas enshrining images of the Buddha. Next to the Aung Sakkya pagoda is an ornate pavilion with a multi tiered Pyatthat roof.
The large grounds at the foot of the hill is dotted with thousands of Bodhi trees. The Bodhi tree is highly revered, because it is the tree under which the Buddha meditated and reached enlightenment. Under every tree is an image of the Buddha seated under a pedestal. Spread out across the grounds are several more Buddha images and chedis.
How to get to the Maha Bodhi Ta Htaung
The temple is located about 20 kilometers South East of Monywa. From the center of town, follow road 71 South for about 10 kilometers. Turn left towards the Thanboddhay Paya and the Monywa technical university. The monastery is found at the end of this road.
A ride by tuk tuk from downtown Monywa will take around 45 minutes. To visit both the monastery and nearby Thanboddhay temple charter a tuk tuk for half a day, which will cost around 10,000 Kyat.
Entrance fee & opening hours
The temple grounds open daily from 8 am until 8 pm. Admission is US$ 3 per person.