On Top of Mandalay Hill, Myanmar

Sitting on top of Mandalay Hill, Sutaungpyei Pagoda features a large patio that offers a wonderful views over Mandalay City and the Ayeyarwaddy.

Buddhist Novice Monks at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)

It’s a long way up. It’s humid. For much of it, there’s no sidewalk, so you’ll be sharing the narrow road with cars and buses. And you’ll have to do a good part of it barefoot. But it’s worth it, especially for the sunset.

Like Sagaing not far away, Mandalay Hill hosts a cluster of monasteries and convents. One, in particular, is a major attraction. Sitting on top of Mandalay Hill, Sutaungpyei Pagoda features a large ornately tiled patio that offers a wonderful view out over Mandalay City to the south. And if you time it right, and the weather cooperates, you can also watch the sunset over the Ayeyarwaddy River to the west.

And, because foreign tourists are drawn particularly at sunset, the sprawling patio, in turn, becomes a draw for local monks and novices to converge there to engage the visitors in conversation so as to practice their English.

As you go up or down, you’ll pass by several statues related to the story of the Ogress Sandha Mukkhi (San Dha Mukhi), including one of her offering up her sliced-off breast. Legend has it that she ruled Mandalay Hill, but that when the Buddha came they prayed together, and pilgrims came to make offerings to the Buddha. She had nothing to offer, so she sliced off her breasts and offered them to the Buddha with the condition that she would one day be the King of Mandalay. He agreed and reincarnated her 2400 years later as King Mindon.

Photos of Mandalay Hill and Sutaungpyei Pagoda

Statue of the Ogress Sandha Mukkhi Offering Her Breast, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
A small standalone shrine area with a statue of the Ogress Sandha Mukkhi (San Dha Mukhi) offers up one of her sliced-off breasts. The legend goes that her offering so impressed The Buddha that he reincarnated her later as King Mindon. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

 

Gold Portico at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Gold portico at Sutaungpyei Pagoda. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Buddha Statue at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Buddha Statue at Sutaungpyei Pagoda. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Two Monks at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Sky at Sunset from Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Lights at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Sutaungpyei Pagoda in Dusk Light, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Stupa of Sutaungpyei Pagoda. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Tourists at Sunset on Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Stupa at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
View of the Plain of Mandalay from Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
View of the Plain of Mandalay from Mandalay Hill. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Ogress Statue at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Ogress Statue at Sutaungpyei Pagoda. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Umbrellas at Sutaungpyei Pagoda at Dusk, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Sutaungpyei Pagoda at Dusk, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Prayer Room at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Sutaungpyei Pagoda Building, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Portico at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Rooftop at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Temple at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Toruists on the Patio at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Golden Stupa at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Gate at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Buddha Statue at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Tiled Mosaic at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Sutaungpyei Pagoda Inscriptions, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Stupa at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Tourist Watching the View at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Umbrellas at Sutaungpyei Pagoda, Mandalay Hill, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

More Photos of Mandalay Hill

I have more photos of Mandalay Hill and Sutaungpyei Pagoda here.

What to Know Before You Go

  • The long walk up is the traditional way to get to the top, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There’s also parking most of the way up. For the last little bit, there are escalators.
  • I was a bit taken aback at first that the monks were so forthright in engaging tourists. In many parts of the world, unfortunately, that often signals an opening for drumming up business, asking for money, or evangelism. But as I soon learned, in this case, they really are asking for nothing more than a chance to practice their English and chat.

Where to Next?

David Coleman / Photographer
by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »