Mawlamyine is the capital of Mon State, Myanmar. Its original name was ‘Mont me lein’, referring to the legendary Mon King who had one eye destroyed. With the good communication links with Yangon (being connected by road, railway, seaway and airway; especially, as a bridge over the Thanlwin River has been completed, it is easy to access Mawlamyine from Yangon by car within a few hours), the city is now the second largest seaport and a big trading center of Myanmar, developing both industry and tourism.
- Location: 300 km southeast of Yangon
- Status: capital city of Mon State
- Name variants: Mawlamyine, Moulmein, Mawlamyaing
- Religions: Theravada Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism
- Population: 346,213 (2013)
- The main trading center and seaport in southeastern Myanmar (second largest seaport)
- Most known for its tropical fruits and outstanding cuisine
The city with rich history and diverse culture has all kinds of specialties in Myanmar. Between 1826 and 1852, Mawlamyine was the first capital of British Burma after the treaty of Yandabo signed in 1826 to end the First Anglo-Myanmar War. During colonial times, an area of the city was known as “little England” due to the large Anglo-Burmese community, many of them run rubber plantations; however, nowadays, this has dwindled because a handful of leaving families. It was then just a village until Sitke Maun, Htaw Lay, mayor of Dala town brought over 10000 Mon people with him in more than 200 boats to settle there. Later, commerce with foreign parts made it develop into a business center. With a population of about 300000, consisting of Mon (75%), Kayin, Bamar, Indians and some Chinese, the city is the largest in Mon State and provides a multicultural dimension even though Buddhist Mon is majority. Buddhist cultural dominance is as old as the city, but with British’s annexation, Christianity was introduced in 19th century. In the early 20th century, the expansion of trade and commerce established a Hindu culture in Mawlamyine. Although today, the number of Indian people is decreasing, and has completely assimilated with Myanmar culture, traces of their heritage can still be seen by the numerous mosques that dot the town. Closing to Thai border (only 150 km away) explains why many people in the city are able to speak Thai, even at various levels of proficiency. Situated at the mouth of the Thanlwin River and bounded by the low hills with ancient pagodas on the east, it generally slopes down to the west and its length fronting the river is much greater than it breadth, convenient for agriculture. Being near the sea and at the influence of four rivers, climate and fertile soil, the cultivation of grain, various cash crops and orchards are promoted. The locals produce a considerable amount of teak, rice, rubber, and fruits. Mawlamyine is famous for its tropical fruits and for its cuisine as indicated in the popular Burmese expression: Mandalay for the speaking, Yangon for the bragging and Mawlamyine for the eating. Many kinds of fruit such as durian, mango, pineapple, rambutan and cashew are popular. The city is now considered to be on the main tourist trail for most travellers to Myanmar due to its rich history, buildings with colonial style architecture, World War II era wooden buses, and it close proximity to the infamous Siam-Burma “death railway”, making it a fascinating place to visit. In the city, Mon Culture Museum, Mahamuni Pagoda and Kyaikthanlan Pagoda and some others are the most attractive destinations for tourists. Mon Culture Museum is well known as a two-story building where Mon inscriptions, hundred-year-old wooden sculptures, ceramics, thanakha grinding stones, silver boxes and Mon musical instruments are displayed. As other areas in Myanmar, the city also owns special style architecture pagodas which can only be seen in Myanmar. Mahamuni Pagoda at the northern end of town is the largest pagoda beside the tallest and most visible Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, a typical building in Mon style. All pagodas are in white and gold colors with one highest minaret and many small minarets around. Seindon Mibaya Kyaung is a historical destination where King Mindon’s Queen Seindon sought refuge after the last monarch. A system of pagoda, mosque, and churches are considerable to visit includes: Aung Theikdi Zedi, U Khanti Paya, U Zina Paya, Kaladan Mosque, Moghul Shah Mosque and Sulati Mosque.