If you have seen the sunrise at the U-Bein bridge in Amarapura, it is definitely worth visiting the Mahagandayon Monastery in the same place. You can then witness a unique spectacle that takes place every day from around 10 am at the monastery. In this monastery live thousands of monks, some of them from abroad, studying Buddhism. They live here according to strict religious principles. To eventually become a monk, they have to study for 7 to 10 years, during which they need to submit to over 200 rules.
Impressive spectacle at the Mahagandayon Monastery
The monks get up at 4:30 am to study. They have lunch at 10:30 am in the immense dining rooms of the complex. What’s more, this is the impressive moment you have been waiting for. From all kinds of streets, thousands of monks gather to walk in a procession to the dining room. They pass by serenely, dressed in their red-brown robes and the alms basket, to the dining room. You see very small boys walking, but also very old monks who have to be supported by others. After entering, all the monks find a place in the dining room and lunch begins. After this, eating is no longer permitted.
We saw the monks in Luang Prabang, Laos, at dawn wandering through the streets to receive their sacrifices from the inhabitants. It was impressive, but also a bit of a commercial spectacle with lots of tourists. In Amarapura, it is much more impressive and there are also far fewer tourists. It is certainly worthwhile to experience this if you are in Mandalay or the surrounding area. Amarapura is located about 11 kilometres from Mandalay and is easily accessible by bike, scooter or taxi. If you go on your own, they can tell you in your hotel which way to go.