Sagaing lies 21 km southwest of Mandalay on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River. Sagaing became a capital of an independent Shan kingdom around1315 after the fall of Bagan had thrown central Myanmar into chaos. Its period of importance was short for in 1364 the founder's grandson, Thado Minbya, moved his capital across the river to Inwa. For four brief years from 1760 to 1764 Sagaing was once again the capital. Today, Sagaing is known as a meditation centre. Myanmars, ail over the country would visit Sagaing for the purpose of religious retreat.
Sagaing Division is situated in the north-western part of Myanmar. It shares borders with India in the north, Kachin State, Shan State and Mandalay Division in the east, Mandalay and Magway Divisions in the south, and Chin State and India in the west. The total area of the division is 36,535 square miles.
The population of Sagaing Division is 538,000, and the average population density is 139 persons per square mile. Population is dense in the lower regions of Chindwin and Mu Rivers, where there are many plains, while it is sparse in the mountainous north-west regions.
Bamars form the majority of inhabitants in the dry regions, Katha Township and the regions along the Mandalay-Myitkyina railroad. Shans live in upper Chindwin valley, and Kawlin, Wuntho and Pinlebu townships. Nagas reside in the north of north-west mountain ranges and Chins in the south. Kadu and Ganang national races can be found in the upper Mu River and Meza River valleys.
The majority of the people in Sagaing Division are Buddhists, though there are some animists.
The major languages spoken in the State are Bamar, Shan and Chin.
How to get there?
Sagaing lies 21 km south west of Mandalay, beside the Ayeyarwaddy River. It is 15 minutes drive from Mandalay by road. Monywa is about 136 km to the west of Mandalay, and a one and half hour drive.
It is known as a religious retreat where over 600 monasteries for monks and nuns are located for Buddhistic studies and meditation. The Padamyazedi dates from 1300 while the Onhmin Thonze or thirty caves pagoda has many Buddha images in a crescent shaped colonnade. Mural paintings can be seen in the Tilawkaguru cave temple, which was built around 1672. The Pa Ba Gyaung is typical of the many monasteries on the hillside. And at the nearby village of Ywahtaung you can see silver workers producing bowls and other silver items by traditional methods.
The road to Sagaing crosses the river on the sixteen span Inwa Bridge that is well over a km long. Opened in 1934 the bridge was put out of action by the British in 1942 when they demolished two spans in order to deny the bridge to the advancing Japanese. Not until 1954 was the bridge repaired and put back into operation. There's a toll to take cars across the bridge, which also carries the rail line. Inwa Bridge used to be the longest-bridge in Myanmar until the emergence of Thanlyin Bridge in 1993.
U Bein's Bridge
South of the Patodawgyi Pagoda the shallow Taungthaman Lake is crossed by a huge teak bridge. During the dry season the bridge crosses dry land. U Bein was the "mayor" at the time of the shift from Inwa and he wisely salvaged material from the deserted Inwa Palace to build this km long footbridge. It has stood the test of time for two centuries.