Throughout history, Burmese kings have considered boulders of flawless white marble partic- ularly auspicious material from which to sculpt monumental Buddhas. In 1998, when an exceptionally large one came to light at the Sangyin quarry, 21 miles (34 km) north of Mandalay, the gov ernment lost no time in commissioning the country’s most acclaimed religious sculptor, U Taw Taw, to produce a statue. It took the artist over a year to complete the Buddha, which measures 37 ft (11 m) from head to toe and weighs 600 tons. The colossal Lawka Chantha Abhaya Labha Muni is now housed in a glass-sided shrine atop Mindhamma Hill in the northern suburbs. Painted panels inside the temple recount the extraor di nary events surrounding the trans- portation of the huge statue from the workshop near Mandalay where it was carved to the then capital, Yangon. To ship the figure, a special eight-rail track had to be laid from the Sangyin quarry to the Ayeyarwady River. A ceremonial golden barge with karaweik heads was used to carry it south, watched by vast crowds of excited onlookers from the riverbank. The barge stopped at one town every day on its 12-day journey to allow public obeisance. Yet another specially built rail line took the statue from the docks to the 37-acre (15-ha) garden site at the top of Mindhamma Hill, where it now stands as one of the city’s best loved religious destinations. The statue can easily be visited en route to or from the nearby Mingaladon International Airport, or from guesthouses or hotels in the north of the city.