The village of Mingun, 8km northwest of Mandalay by boat, would not be visited today if it were not for King Bodawpaya, who in 1790 decided to build a gigantic temple here and had a temporary palace constructed so that he could live close by. It would have been the largest temple in the world but all that was completed by the time of his death – 29 years later – was the bottom portion. However, since this consists of a 70m cube of bricks on top of a huge terrace, it is still a pretty imposing structure.
To get an idea of the intended shape for Mingun Paya, check out the nearby Pondaw Paya. The other main attraction in Mingun village is the bronze Mingun Bell, also commissioned by Bodawpaya and found just north of Mingun Paya. With a circumference of almost 5m, it is said to be the largest intact bell in the world. A little further north is Hsinbyume Paya, with a design intended to represent Mount Sumeru, the mountain at the centre of the Buddhist cosmos, and the seas that surround it.