Site Name: Bandhi They Lar Pagoda
Area: Paung Township, Mon State, Myanmar
Located upon the Nwar La Boat mountain range 1888 feet above sea level, this golden rock pagoda is said to house a strand of the Buddha’s hair like six others in the region. Bandhi They Lar was constructed in 911 AD by the hermit Taik-Tha and the three boulders seem to stand impossibly on top of each other. The boulders get their gold colour from the application of many sheets of gold leaf, and you too can purchase sheets to add to the lower boulder for 500 Kyats (30p) each. Aside from the impressive pagoda the views of the mountain range are equally amazing and on a clear day you can see for many miles.
One thing to note is that this pagoda was built a full five years before it’s more famous brother at Kyaik Hti Yo. The site is open all year round and there is no entrance fee, however it is encouraged to leave a small donation in one of the boxes provided.
The site is about 4 miles from Kyone Ka village and can be easily reached by car or motorbike from Mawlamyine as the entrance is along the main highway between Mawlamyine and Yangon. To reach the pagoda you can either walk (this must take hours!) or climb onto the back of one of the open back mining trucks which ferry passengers up and down the mountain all day. If you do choose to walk the trucks will stop to pick you up when you inevitably give up so don’t worry too much. The journey costs 1000 Kyat each way and takes about 20 to 30 minutes. If you take the seat row directly behind the truck cab you will be able to stand up and fully enjoy the incredible views as you scale the mountain with the wind in your hair. Just be sure to duck any overhanging tree branches!
As this is a sacred Buddhist site footwear should be removed as you enter. It is generally safe to leave your footwear at the entrance and they will still be there to collect when you leave. You should dress respectfully and cover shoulders, knees and cleavage at all times.
If you decide to purchase sheets of gold leaf to apply to the boulder please note that there are separate places for men and women to apply these. The place for men is at the front whilst the women’s location is down the stairs to the other side. This may seem strange for some, but at other similar pagodas women are not even asked to do this.