Marble Mountain

Myanmar (Burma)

The best marble in the country comes from Marble Mountain (otherwise known by the village name of Sakyin), 36 miles north of Mandalay (on the way to the jade mines at Mogok). You can see the most prominent of the three hillocks, a greyish-white ridge covered in a hazy, chalky cloud, from some spots on the Ayeyarwady River. Armies of buddha statues (plus dragons and other figures meant for export to China), are produced in the town at the mountain's foot.

Many of the statues are unfinished and sent to craftspeople in the workshops in Mandalay for finishing. Not surprisingly, it can be challenging to breathe, especially for those with any respiratory issues. Buy a mask from any Mandalay pharmacy before making the trip. During the rainy season, the area turns into a freshwater inland ocean that you can tour by boat.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Myanmar (Burma) attractions

1. Hsinbyume Paya

15.59 MILES

Built in 1816 by King Bagyidaw, possibly using materials pilfered from Mingun Paya, this unusually striking pagoda rises in seven wavy, whitewashed…

2. Mingun Bell

15.76 MILES

In 1808 Bodawpaya continued his biggest-is-best obsession by commissioning a bronze bell weighing 55,555 viss (90 tonnes). It’s 13ft high and more than…

3. Chinthe Ruins

15.86 MILES

Across the road from Mingun Paya lie two house-sized brick-and-stucco ruins, damaged in the 1838 earthquake. These are just the haunches of what would…

4. Mingun Paya

15.9 MILES

Begun in 1790, Mingun Paya would have been the world’s biggest stupa if it had been completed. Work stopped in 1819 when King Bodawpaya died, and at that…

5. Pondaw Paya

16.01 MILES

To see what Mingun Paya would have looked like had it ever been completed, have a quick look at diminutive Pondaw Paya, 200yd south at the end of the…

6. Mandalay Hill

18.13 MILES

To get a sense of Mandalay’s pancake-flat sprawl, climb the 760ft hill that breaks it. The walk up covered stairways on the hill's southern slope is a…

7. San Dha Mukhi Statue

18.24 MILES

This small statue depicts the ogress San Dha Mukhi offering up a severed breast to the Buddha. According to legend, her feat of self-mutilation impressed…

8. Fort

18.41 MILES

Located on Mandalay Hill, these are the windowless ruins of a three-storey stone fortress retaken from the Japanese by Britain’s Royal Berkshire Regiment…