Some of the most fragrant rice in the world grows in the Irrawaddy delta region around the port of Pathein, 120 miles east of Yangon. Often just a quick stop over for people heading for the beaches of Ngwe Saung or Chaung Tha, Myanmar’s 4th largest city is a busy, thriving place worthy of exploration.
The city is a major port, second only to Yangon, as the delta is dredged deep enough to allow passage of larger ships from the sea to it’s inland location. Buddhist temples adorn the scenic waterfront area, chief among them Shwemokhtaw Pagoda. Legend has it the temple was designed in 305 B.C. by India’s great king, Asoka, of Asoka’s pillar fame. Much later, in 1115, King Alaungsithu of Pagan increased the height of the central stupa to 36 ft., which was increased again in 1263 by Mon King Samodogossa to 40 meters, or 131 ft. Currently it stands at 47 meters, or 153 ft. The stupa is capped by more than six kilos of gold and a staggering 3,000 plus precious and semi-precious stones.