Nat took this picture from a boat approaching Mingun from the Irrawaddy in 2007 or 2008. At 16, I spent a month as a novice at the monastery right at the foot of this big pagoda. The mountain range in the background is called Shwe Myin Tin.
I hiked up once with a rebellion monk to go and have a chat with a famous monk – considered heretic by other monks – who was later forcibly disrobed by the religious affairs authorities for questioning and preaching against the usual domatic teachings – which typically pass as “Buddhism” in Myanmar. There in the sad, old country of mine, rubbish and extraneous ideas are disseminated as “Buddha’s teachings”.
According to the late Dr Than Tun, 2,000 Rakhine prisoners of war were brought to Mingun area – all the way from Arakan – after the conquest of Mrauk-Oo in AD 1784 to bake bricks for this insanely big pagoda.