U Bein Bridge, Mandalay

Jun 06 2016. views 421

The oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world 

Mandalay the former capital of Myanmar has no shortage of vistas to entertain and enthrall tourists. The hustle and bustle of life is omnipresent but at a more calmer pace than we experience in our corner of the world. My favourite stop in Mandalay a mystical city was the U Bein Bridge. This is easily one of Myanmar’s most photographed sights not only by foreign tourists but locals alike. 



The U Bein is a teak bridge spanning close to 1200 meters across the Taungthaman Lake. The construction of the bridge began when the capital of the Ava Kingdom moved to Amarapura and the bridge is named after the Mayor who built the bridge. Build from wood reclaimed from the former royal palace in Inwa, it features 1086 pillars that stretch out of the water. Over the years due to wear and tear some of the pillars have been replaced with concrete. 




The best time to visit the bridge is at sunset as you can capture picture perfect sunsets. Be warned though that there are countless other with the same idea so go early and pick your spot.  While the bridge is busy during the day it sees the most activity at dusk. In the lake below you will see fishermen in their brightly coloured boats in the still water trying to catch fish. Amongst the visitors you will also see an unending stream of crimson robe clad monks who make the crossing. 




At the far end of the bridge through The Taungthaman villahe is Kyukatawgyi Paya. This temple was built in the 1800s and contains some beautiful frescoes. 

The bridge was built so that the middle had a curved shape to resist the the rigours of the wind and water. The main teak posts were buried seven foot deep into the lake bed. The other ends of the posts were shaped conically to ensure the rain water drained down easily. The bridge also has four wooden pavilions at identical intervals along the bridge in addition to nine passageways where the floors can be lifted to enable big boats and barges to pass. 



The bridge also plays host to numerous vendors who sell souvenirs, trinkets and various items of food. Give yourself a good two to three hours to spend at the bridge so you can walk across it leisurely savouring every beautiful vista from the fishermen in the lake, to the people going on boat rides and of course the beautiful sunsets one of my most treasured memories of the mystical and magical city of Mandalay. 

There are no barriers on the bridge so make sure you walk in the center or if you choose to walk on the side take care, the drop is only about 20 feet! 

Text and photographs by Tina Edward Gunawardhana


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