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The town of Mingun in Myanmar is 11 kilometres upriver from Mandalay on the adjacent side of the Ayeyarwady. The Mingun Pagoda Pahtodawgyi would today be the biggest pagoda in the world if the grandiose scheme of King Bodawpaya had been completed. Each side of the vast base measures 72 metres (235 feet). The height is 52 metres (172 feet), but was intended to be a colossal 152 metres (500 feet high). The construction of the Mingun Pagoda, principally through slave labour, drained the surrounding region of both resources and manpower. The pagoda at Mingun is Burma’s most ambitious archaeological endeavour, but following the king's death construction was abandoned. Any remaining will to complete Pahtodawgyi were killed off for good by a widely believed prophesy that claimed the Konbaung Dynasty would collapse the day it was completed.

Not content with his mammoth pagoda plans, in 1790 Bodawpaya constructed a gigantic bell to accompany the pagoda. Today, the Mingun Bell is the second biggest functioning bell in the world (recently surpassed by the Pingdingshan Bell in China.) The bell is four metres high and five metres wide at the lip. Although impressive, it is much smaller than the legendary "Great Bell of Dhamazeddi" that was 327 tonnes, lost in the Yangon River by the Portuguese merchant-cum-privateer-cum-quasi-king Filipe de Brito e Nicote in 1608. (Not to be confused with the bell from Shwedagon Pagoda, taken by the British colonialists and also lost - temporarily at least - in the Yangon River.)

A short walk from the bell is Settawya Pagoda, a hollow shrine containing a footprint of the Buddha, brought to Mingun by Bodawpaya. Further on is the glorious snow white pagoda Mya Thein Tan, built by Bagyidaw for his first cousin and consort Princess Hsinbyune (Princess ‘White Elephant.’)

For more information about Mingun or to find out how you can incorporate it into a trip to Myanmar, please feel free to contact one of our travel consultants.

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