The Mahamuni Buddha Temple is a Buddhist temple and major pilgrimage site, located southwest of Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar). The Mahamuni Buddha image is deified in this temple, and originally came from Arakan. It is highly venerated in Burma and central to many people's lives, as it is seen as an expression of representing the Buddha's life.
In the ancient history of Arakan, King Anawratha of Pagan (r. 1044–1077) attempted to move the image to Pagan, without success.In 1784, the Burmese under the military leadership of Crown Prince Thado Minsaw of Konbaung dynasty conquered the Kingdom of Mrauk U. The religious relics of the kingdom, including the Mahamuni Buddha image, were confiscated and installed in the Mahamuni temple or Pagoda at Amarapura, on the outskirts of the old capital of Mandalay. As the Mahamuni image was too large to transport as a whole, it was cut into sections and later reassembled and housed in the new temple. Mandalay became the capital under King Mindon (r. 1853–1878). It was also the capital under his son Thibaw (r. 1878–1885) of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752–1885). When the British annexed Upper Burma in 1885 to prevent the French from dominating it, monarchic rule ended. However, veneration of the Mahamuni image has continued, and is visited and idolised by many pilgrims, mainly Rakhine, Mon and Burmans peoples.
Several old bronze statues that line the courtyard of the temple have a long history as war loot. They were originally Khmer statues, found at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and were taken to Ayutthaya in 1431 by the Siamese. In 1564, the Burmese king Bayinnaung conquered Ayutthaya and took thirty such statues to Bago (Pegu).In 1599, King Razagri of Mrauk U invaded Bago and brought the statues to Mrauk U.Finally, Thado Minsaw took them to Amarapura in 1785.According to local belief, many more of these statues were brought from Arakan.However, King Thibaw melted many of them to cast cannons for fortification of his palace Of the thirty statues Bayinnaung brought from Siam, only six remain today, and are displayed in the temple complex. They are a major attraction because of their purported healing qualities.
The Mahamuni Temple or Pagoda is a complex of structures located along a road from Mandalay leading to the southwest. It was originally located on A brick paved road which was constructed from the Royal Palace of King Bodawpaya to the eastern gate of the temple, although only remnants of this road can still be seen. A major teaching monastery of some 400 monks of the Thudhamma Nikaya (order), is one among the many monasteries which are adjacent to the Pagoda. The temple has a central shrine and is framed by an extensive grass lawn. The arcades leading to the main shrine have many kiosks, selling religious paraphernalia such as incense, candles, rosaries, flowers, robes, sandals etc., and various restaurants and tea shops. The sanctum sanctorum, where the large Mahamuni image is deified, is a small chamber and has a roof covering made up of seven pyatthat meaning tiered roofs (derivative of the Sanskrit word prasada). The ceiling has an ornate mosaic covering. The arcades are supported by 252 gilded and carved columns adorned with fine frescoes.