U Bein Bridge is a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura in Myanmar. The 1.2-kilometre (0.75 mi) bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. Construction began when the capital of Ava Kingdom moved to Amarapura, and the bridge is named after the mayor who had it built. It is used as an important passageway for the local people and has also become a tourist attraction and therefore a significant source of income for souvenir sellers. It is particularly busy during July and August when the lake is at its highest.
The bridge was built from wood reclaimed from the former royal palace in Inwa. It features 1,086 pillars that stretch out of the water, some of which have been replaced with concrete. Though the bridge largely remains intact, there are fears that an increasing number of the pillars are becoming dangerously decayed. Some have become entirely detached from their bases and only remain in place because of the lateral bars holding them together. Damage to these supports have been caused by flooding as well as a fish breeding program introduced into the lake which has caused the water to become stagnant. The Ministry of Culture’s Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library plans to carry out repairs when plans for the work are finalised.
From 1 April 2013, eight police force personnel have been deployed to guard the bridge. Their presence is aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour and preventing criminal activities, with the first arrest coming in September 2013 when two men were reported for harassing tourists.
Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present kalpa. These relics include the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama.
The legend associated with the pagoda is that the Buddha, on one of his many visits, gave a strand of his hair to Taik Tha, a hermit. The hermit, who had tucked it in the tuft of his hair safely, in turn gave the strand to the king, with the wish that the hair be enshrined in a boulder shaped like the hermit's head. The king had inherited supernatural powers from his father Zawgyi, a proficient alchemist), and his mother, a naga serpent dragon princess. They found the rock at the bottom of the sea. With the help of the Thagyamin, the king of Tawadeintha Heaven in Buddhist cosmology, found the perfect place at Kyaiktiyo for locating the golden rock and built a pagoda, where the strand was enshrined. It is this strand of hair that, according to the legend, prevents the rock from tumbling down the hill. The boat, which was used to transport the rock, turned into a stone. This is also worshiped by pilgrims at a location about 300 metres (980 ft) from the golden rock. It is known as the Kyaukthanban Pagoda or stupa (literal meaning: stone boat stupa).
Legends also mention that pilgrims undertaking the pilgrimage by trekking from the Kinpun base camp three times consecutively in a year will be blessed with wealth and recognition.