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Photographer's Note

10kms northwest of the Mandalay Hill, a leisurely 45 minutes upstream the Irrawaddy by boat, sits the Mantara Gyi. It was built between 1790 and 1797 by Bodawpaya. In 1790, a Chinese delegation visited Bodawpaya's court and presented him with a tooth of the Buddha, and three daughters of the emperor. He decided to build a pagoda to house the tooth. (Accommodation for the daughters is unclear.)

Anyhow, to supervise construction, Bodawpaya built a residence on an island in the Irrawaddy where he lived for the next seven years. The intent was that the pagoda should reach a height of 152 metres. To this end he imported thousands of slaves from territories he had conquered further south. Thus the tradition of forced (volunteer) labour in Myanmar has roots dating back long into its past.

Bodawpaya died in 1813, aged 75, having ruled for 38 years. He left 122 children and 208 grandchildren - none of whom was interested in finishing the pagoda. An earthquake in 1839 (23/3/1839) caused the upper portion to collapse into the hollow shrine rooms. The base still rises more than 50 metres. Along with the Mingun Bell and the pleasant river journey, it continues to be a key attraction for a visit to Mingun.

In the foreground, on the beach, the white structure located about 200 metres southeast of the Pagoda, is the Settawya Paya.

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Additional Photos by Ken Boulter (Sardonik) Silver Note Writer [C: 2 W: 0 N: 957] (1979)
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