Situated at the mouth of the Thanlwin (Salween) River, Mawlamyine is the second busiest seaport and the fourth largest city in Myanmar. The atmosphere of a post-colonial decay is still palpable in this city since Mawlamying used to be the capital of British Burma from 1827 to 1852. The port city acted as the major port for teak exports from Myanmar during the colonial days. Mawlamyine will always be associated with Kipling's famous verse which states, "By the old Mawlamyine pagoda lookin' lazy at the sea. There's a Burmese 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!"
Mawlamyine is also famous for its caves that are filled with numerous images and carvings of the Buddha. The Payon Cave, filled with stalactites and stalagmites, contains innumerable Buddha images installed in shrines. There other Kawgaun Cave, locally called the Cave of Ten Thousand Buddhas, also has a great number of Buddha figures in various forms and sizes. Mawlamyine is about 300 km away from Yangon and can be reached by road, rail, or by a 40-minute's flight from.
Kyaik-thanlan pagoda was erected in 875 A.D. during the reign of King Mutpi Raja. A hair relic of the Buddha, several Tripitaka manuscripts, and gold images of the Buddha were enshrined in the pagoda. Over the years various kings raised the pagoda from 56 feet to its present height of 150 feet. There are also 34 other small pagodas called Zediyan surrounding the pagoda.
About 34 km from Mawlamyine, Thanbyuzayat was the starting point of the "Death Railway" that connected Myanmar and Thailand with the Bridge that crossed the River Kwai. The bridge was constructed by the Japanese during World War II to penetrate into Burmese borders. A film was made about this Anglo-Jap war in 1957 called “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. There is a well-kept Allied War Memorial Cemetery for prisoners-of-war who died while building the "Death Railway" during World War II; the Railway Museum and a Japanese-built pagoda in memory of the perished Japanese engineers and prisoners-of-war are also present here.
28 km south of Mawlamyine is the Kyaikkhami which was a popular coastal resort during British times. It is also home to the well-known Kyaikkhami Pagoda that was literally built in the sea. Like the rest of Mon State, Mawlamying, and Thanbyuzayat Kyaikhkami also possess a hot and wet tropical climate.
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