A visit to Mae Nu Oak Kyaung

Mae Nu Oak Kyaung
Mae Nu Oak Kyaung. Photo: Thayatan Soe Shwe

By Thayatan Soe Shwe

Studying a historic building is interesting and it is even more valuable to know and experience the past. If you know and study the past, you will always enjoy learning.
A visit to the Maha Aung Myay Bon San Brick Monastery, also known as the Mae Nu Oak Kyaung in the Innwa area, reveals some of the magnificent architectural masterpieces. The monastery is located near Htee Hlaing Shin Pagoda and surrounded by the beautiful Ayeyawady River.
According to inscriptions, the monastery was destroyed by an earthquake during the reign of King Thawaddy in 1200 ME and the damaged monastery was rebuilt in 1234 by Queen Sin Phyu Mya Shin, the middle queen of King Mindon. Due to her renovation, the Yadanarbon period stucco works and the architecture of Konbaung period can still be seen together today.
The monastery is with a large three-story roofs with seven-tiered superstructures of a prayer hall. There are a total of 8 stairs to get to the monastery. Of them, the three stairs are unique with fascinating decorated archway which were used by the king and monks and the other people used the rest 5 stairs to get inside of the monastery.

There are two partitions in the Mae Nu Oak Kyaung as the east hall and the west hall. The east hall was used as a reception area for those who observed the Sabbath and the west hall was designated as a place for monks to stay.
It is called Mae Nu Brick Temple because it was built by Daw Nu (Mae Nu), Queen Consort of King Bagyitaw Sagaing King, in 1184 ME. Donations for the construction of the monastery along with the work of famous carpenters, were inscribed on the Thakyathiha Bell.
After the completion of the monastery, a large pavilion was built in the vacant lot on the west side of the monastery and the ceremony was held. It was named as Aung Myay Bon San and was donated to Nyaung Kan Sayardaw U Pho in 1189 ME.
The donation of Mae Nu Oak Kyaung was very special. During the opening ceremony, visitors from all over the country were given a variety of clothing and accessories as well as total of 68 prisoners were released.
About two years later, Sayardaw U Pho passed away and the monastery was donated to Nyaung Kan Sayadaw U Bod, the second sayardaw who stayed in the monastery.
Nowadays, visiting Mae Nu Oak Kyaung is very enjoyable and melancholic. The view of the flowing Ayeyawady River, the Sagaing bridge, historical figures in the monastery are so captivating and evocative to the past.
When you visit the Innwa area, you should visit the Mae Nu Oak Kyaung, which offers a lot of delights. Once you reach the monastery, you can sit on the stairs that only kings and monks were allowed to climb and enjoy the full beauty of Innwa. (Translated by Ei Phyu Phyu Aung)

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