Innwa (Awa) is combination of two syllables in Myanmar language: Inn and wa. Inn means lake, wa means entrance or mouth. Innwa means entrance of the lake. After British arrival charming village was called Ava. After Bagan dynasty failed, three brothers from high land, come down to valley: each one decided to established their own capital: one is in Innwa or Awa, second one at Pinny and the third one at Sagaing.
Innwa was founded by king Thadominpya in 14th century. He established his capital on very small land surrounded by many lakes. Making artificial land on nine lakes built his city Innwa. Geographically, Innwa is an artificial penusula, surrounded by Ayeyarwaddy River from two side and one side by Small River or Dohtawaddy River which is confluence of Ayeyarwaddy. It can be said that Innwa is on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River and Small River. Innwa can be reach from Mandalay, Sagaing those are nearest cities of Innwa.
There are two options to visit Innwa: by horse cart or by car. For second option can visit Innwa just by small car as roads in Innwa are quite narrow. The best way is stop your car at Otoktan jetty, cross Small River by ferry boat for 5 minutes and hire horse cart to visit around Innwa.
Innwa is an untouched land (without many changes and development) after British time. Roads are still narrow and there is big traffic (horse carts) as it has many local and foreign tourists.
Innwa is a small archeological zone as Bagan but not so big land, there are many historical religious monuments of 19th century which is the last time Innwa had been Capital of Myanmar. Groups of old pagodas – ruins of Innwa is peacefully beautiful. Innwa peninsula is enough big, there are about 10 villages with over 15,000 inhabitants. Most are farmers, some are tourism services supporters.
19th century Bagaya wooden monastery, Menu brick monastery and Nanmyint Tower are highlight places of Innwa.
Bagaya wooden monastery
It is amazing 19th century wooden monastery. Monarch time, Royal family, Royal Princes had to study at the monasteries. Venerable monks were as well as Royal teachers for Royal Princes. King Bagyidaw Built beautiful Bagaya monastery for his Royal Teacher (19th century) at the time when he was a prince. Being donator was a King, used the best teak wood for the whole monastery. 267 massive teak posts are the most attraction of the monastery. Apart from 5 stairs the whole building made entirely of teak. The shrine with 9 spires and beautiful wood curving is the most beautiful part of the monastery. Main building was divided into two parts and linked with corridor. Senior monks closed corridor and use as store room. Main building has dim light, decoration for inner shrine is amazing and indicate the time meets western and eastern culture. The doors with elegance wood curving that connect two rooms of the main building are impressive.
Menu Okk Kyaung – Menu Brick Monastery
Religious buildings – temples and pagoda are concrete and brick buildings and monastery and Royal family houses and Royal Palace were made of teak in 19th century. Kon Baung dynastry there was a queen who donated the monastery for one of the venerable monk which is made of brick. The official name of the monastery is Mahaaungmyaebonezan monastery or Menu Brick Monastery. The original building was destroyed by earthquake; the founder of Mandalay rebuilt the present one as the original. Monastery compound is quite big, it is one story building. Even it is concrete building raise about 5 meters from ground supported with many brick columns that made beautiful arches. Nowadays, it is one of the beauty of the monastery. Eastern part of the monastery, there is 9 spire roof shrine which was highly decorated with beautiful stucco work. Main building was devided into two parts: one is shrine and the second one is living room. There are interior corridors that made fresh air and good temperature during hot season in central Myanmar. The stairs are so elegance and it can say that Menu brick monastery is the best stucco work of 19th.
Just few meters from Menu Okk Kyaung there is Nanmyint tower which is prohibited to go up for safety. It is recommendable for short visit at Yadanarsimi temple group and Dawgyan pagoda group.