One of the most popular tourist destinations in Myanmar is the capital of the Imperial Burmese. In a 3-mile (5km) circuit, usually traveled by horse cart, bicycle, or motorbike, visitors can see the Maha Aungmye Bonzan temple, the “leaning tower” Nanmyint, the collection of stupas known as Yedanasini Paya, and finally the monastery Bagaya Kyaung. Any tour guide will be sure to mention the numerous destructions and reconstructions that have occurred in Inwa over the centuries. Yet what is not readily apparent to sightseers is the conscious decision to let the buildings crumble. Like all things, the remains of the once mighty Burmese Empire will return to the earth.
Stupa ruins (CC BY 2.0)
Between the 14th and 19th centuries, Inwa was the on-again-off-again capital of the Burmese elite. Located near the city of Mandalay, Inwa was constructed in the 1300s on an artificially made island. Situated between the Irrawaddy and Myitnge Rivers, the ruler at the time, King Thado Minbya, ordered two canals to be built to connect the rivers and swamplands surrounding the area to be filled in, thus making his citadel an island unto itself. The Burmese word Inwa means “mouth of the Lake” and is believed to have derived from the word Innawa, which means “nine lakes”.
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