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Home > Myanmar Highlights > Off-the-beaten-track > Northern Jewels > Bhamo > River Villages

River Villages beyond Mandalay

Info River Villages beyond Mandalay


Sinkan is a small town at the mouth of Second Defile, some 50km (33mile) south of Bhamo, notable for its some rickety monasteries. The Second Defile is the most scenic part in the upper reaches and has a length of 13.5km (7 mile), whereas 300-m high cliff called Nat Myet Hna Taung (Hill of the Nat’s Face) and the Parrot’s Beak, a painted rock in the form of a parrot that acts a water-level marker are the significant landmarks of this area.


Shwegu is a regular boat stop and servers as the gateway to the Shan Hill to the east of the town across the dense jungle, where the timber industry prospers. Shwegu is briefly highlighted by over 2700 ancient stupas that cover the entire island of Kyundaw, opposite Shwegu.


Kathar is a peaceful and pleasant old market town located on the western bank of Ayeyarwaddy River, south of Myitkyina and west of Bhamo, with its charming rain-trees planted over one hundred years ago. Katha is the site where the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company scuttled roundabout 75 ships to defy them from the occupying Japanese forces, in May 1942. In fact, Kathar has been introduced to the westerners through infamous novel of Gorge Orwell’s “Burmese Day”. Eric Blair (real name of Gorge Orwell) was stationed in Kathar during 1926-27 as a colonial police officer, and this was the place where he setup his novel. The British Club, the working tennis court, old police station, hospital and town jail are the places referenced in his novel can still be seen today. More accounts on this section are readable in Emma Larkin's "Finding George Orwell in Burma". There is no good accommodation in Kathar and thus not suitable for overnight stays for those looking for the comfort. It is best visited from the cruise where you can sleep well and take more time in Katha. The railroad from Mandalay reaches to Naba, a small town 24km (14ml) west of Katha, from where you can proceed to Katha by local train or by truck.


Tagaung is an ancient kingdom, or more probably a city-state, founded in pre-Christian times by a prince from the Sakya tribe at Kapilavastu, the home town of Gautama Buddha. It is probably the first kingdom established on the Myanmar soil. Actually, there are two lost cities, Tagaung and Old Bagan (often described as upper Bagan) where the ruins le beneath the huts, shacks, and houses of present settlements. Tagaung is under heavy archaeological excavation lead by the Burmese and outside scholars.


Located 45km (26ml) south of the Third Defile, Kyaukmyaung is the biggest pottery town producing beautiful glazed and unglazed earthen pots of different shapes, patterns, and sizes, where some pots can hold up to 200-liters (50-gallons).




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