Shwe Lan Excerpt: Monywa

The Meditator Guidebook to Burma is in its final stages! As the guide gets closer to publication, we will begin to share excerpts of what yogis may expect... some sneak previews of what is to come. here is one paragraph taken from the Introduction to Monywa section:

With a sign welcoming you that proclaims “Capital of the Northwest, Monywa Must do Better Than Other Towns,” it’s not surprising that Monywa is not high on the list for the tourist or backpacker. However for the yogi, it’s a different story. Not only are there very unique sites in the city itself, but also there are many opportunities for side excursions in the countryside just outside of Monywa. David Lambert captures the special quality to be found in this area in his essay Chindwin, writing, “beyond the conventional radar, this is the heart of yogi tourism, where foreign meditators, carrying tourist cash dollars, come to explore the heartland of their spiritual souls. For some this is the area ‘where it all began.’ ” Some yogis choose to stay in town for some time in order to take in all the sites and have adequate time throughout, while others will include Monywa as one brief stop of many on their yatra and just take in any outlying sites that are not too far off their route.
Monywa is far from a small town with a population of nearly 200,000 people. It is located 136 northwest of Mandalay, situated on the Chindwin River, and so is a major hub for merchants and traders. Prior to the British arrival, Monywa was little more than a village, although the central Chindwin Valley area had given birth to the then-popular Sudhamma monastic movement, in which monks stressed the importance of textual study. Monywa’s own rise to prominence can be traced to when the town was named the Headquarters of the Lower Chindwin District by the British in 1886. It was this same year that the young monk U Nyanadhaja decided to venture into the Ledi Forest, where he would continue his scholarly work in the quiet that the vast wilderness provided, and remain for the following 13 years.

Maha Ledi Sayadaw Monastery in Monywa