Kyaikthanlan Pagoda
Kyaikthanlan Pagoda

Kyaikthanlan Phayar (Pagoda) is the highest structure in Mawlamyine and stands 150 feet tall on the ridge overlooking the town centre. It can be seen for miles especially at night where its lighted brilliance dominates the skyline. From the top of the pagoda grounds, an excellent 360 degree panoramic view of the whole of the city can be seen. From this vantage point, Mawlamyine's British built prison strikes you immediately as you look westwards towards the Thanlwin river and the Gulf of Mottoma. Out to the east, you'll see the Dai Wun Kwin quarter and well as the Mawlamyine train and bus terminus in the Myay Ni Gone quarter.

Kyaikthanlan Pagoda was built in 875 AD and enshrines the Tripitaka Buddhist manuscripts as well as a hair relic from the Buddha. The circumference at its base is 450 feet and is surrounded by 34 smaller Zediyan pagodas. It is thought to be the site where Rudyard Kipling wrote his famous poem, Mandalay. Incidently, the Mandalay ward of Mawlamyine is located just north of the Kyaikthanlan pagoda so this may have been his inspiration for writing the poem "Mandalay".
 

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say;
"Come you back, you British Soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"

Getting to the pagoda can be easily done by foot from Lower Main Rd via two different routes. If you're coming from the Breeze Rest House on Strand Rd, walk northwards until you get to the first street on the right which is Kyaikthanlan St. Unfortunately, there may not be any street signs indicating this, but the landmark to look for is the cinema on the corner of this street. Turn right here and continue walking eastbound for about 1.5 kilometers until you eventually reach Baho St (which is sign posted). Continue walking along Kyaikthanlan St and cross Upper Main Rd. At the end of Kyaikthanlan St are a set of stairs which will lead you up to the pagoda.

The other alternative is to take Maharmyatmuni Phayar St opposite the Sikh Temple. This road leads all the way up to the Kyaikthanlan Pagoda car park. You can catch a lift here up to the temple grounds from where excellent views of the city of Mawlamyine can be seen. There are also Buddhist altars and prayer areas as you'd expect. When walking around the temple, walk in a clockwise direction. Don't forget to take your shoes or slippers off once you're in the temple grounds.