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Mandalay Hill

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Mandalay Hill is a 240 metre (790 ft)hill that is located to the northest of the city center of Mandalay. Mandalay Hill is known for its abudance of pagodas and monasteries, and has been a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists for nearly two centuries. For those who are fit to make the climb, it is considered a rewarding experience and a meritorious deed at the same time. Two gigantic chinthes or leogryphs (stylised lion figures) stand guard at the southern and main approach at the foot of the hill, popularly known as the Chinthe hnakaung atet (two chinthes ascent). It is a gentle climb and there are many stops along the way, most importantly the hermit U Khanti's dazaung or hall where the Peshawar Relics ( three fragments of bone of the Gautama Buddha) were kept from 1923 until after the Second World War when they were moved to a building at the foot of the hill and no longer on display. Leaving U Khanti's dazaung is by way of a tunnel lined by Hnakyeik shissu or the 28 Buddhas of the past and present worlds, or alternatively up a steep flight of steps next to the tunnel. Climbers will see plenty of stalls selling flowers, paper streamers, miniature pennants and umbrellas for the Buddha, and food and refreshment for visitors and pilgrims. All the dazaungs have frieze paintings, most of them from the late Konbaung dynasty period; there is one depicting 'Awizi ngayè (Avici Hell) in gory detail.

Farther up near the summit, a gigantic standing image of the Buddha called the Shweyattaw (literally standing) or Byadeippay (prophesying) Buddha with his right hand pointing towards the city. Legend has it that the Buddha once visited the place and prophesied that in the year 2400 of the Buddhist Era a great city would be built at the foot of the hill where his teachings would flourish. One curiosity that belongs to the myth surrounding the ancient kingdom of Bagan is the so-called 'Kyanzittha's spear mark' near the top of the hill. He was supposed to have executed a miraculous pole vault using his spear across the Irrawaddy!
The Peshawar Relics are kept in the hermit U Khanti's dazaung (hall).

The last stop before the Sutaungpyei pagoda completes the legend of Mandalay. Here on the south terrace of a small stupa is the image of the ogress Sanda Muhki who, for want of something to offer the Buddha, made an offering of her own breasts! And for this extreme act of merit the Buddha made the prophecy that Sanda Muhki would be reborn as a great king who would built a city at the foot of the hill and become a great supporter of Buddhism in the year 2400 of the Buddhist Era (1857 AD), the year King Mindon laid the foundations of Mandalay. On each of the four corners of the terrace can be seen a king of the ogres with his army of miniature ogre images behind him paying obeisance to the Buddha. There are also images of various creatures, one at each level before a Buddha image, such as a rabbit, a cockerel or a lizard, representations of the Buddha's innumerable rebirths during his cycle of Samsara (birth, suffering, death and rebirth).

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