An astonishing apparition rises from a hilltop to the east of Thanboddhay at Bodhi Tataung, where two colossal gilded Buddhas – one standing, one reclining – gaze serenely across the Chindwin Valley. The giant figures form part of a modern complex founded by a globetrotting Burmese monk named Sayadaw Bhaddanta Narada, who traveled the Buddhist world to raise funds for the project, but died before seeing it completed.
Bodhi Tataung’s spectacular centerpiece, on the summit of the hill, is the Laykyun Setkyar, a 424ft (116m) standing Buddha depicted with arms held stiffly at his side. A staircase winds half way up the hollow interior, via a series of galleries featuring gaudy moral murals, to a view ing platform that is not for the fainthearted.
Immediately below the standing figure, his neighbor measures 312 ft (95 m) from head to toe and is the second largest reclining Buddha in Myanmar after the one at Win Sein Taw Ya near Mawlamyine (see p193). Finally, on level ground at the foot of the hill stands a gleaming golden pagoda, the 430ft (131m) Aung Setkyar, which, like the Laykyun Setkyar, can be scaled via an inner passageway. The stupa is set in a park featuring thousands of parasolwielding Buddhas placed in perfect rows.