Shein Ma Kar
Shein Ma Kar in Myanmar language was spelled differently in the past and the present. However it was written or spelled, people are sure to associate the word with a small town (or a big village), wildlife conservation area and a forest retreat (monastery). Shein Ma Kar situated in Sagaing Region Wetlet Township is a place of interest for local and foreign visitors alike due to its historical link to the Pyu.
How to go there
Shein Ma Kar is about two and a half-hour drive from Mandalay and can be reached via Sagaing after going on to Wetlet. I came down from Shwebo in the north and the drive was more than an hour’s drive. The two-way road was an awkward one and half lane wide with some portion being very good while some portion in extremely bad shape. The best car for this road is an off-road 4×4 car but the motorcycle is also good enough. But if you are going there by motorcycle, make sure you wear a helmet, be alert looking where you were going as well as checking the rearview mirror frequently.
A good time to visit
The best is to travel during the day time. As the region had little rain only, it is fine to come during the rainy season too. And the surrounding was more pleasant and beautiful during the raining season than the hot summertime. There’ll be more greenery.
Places to visit
There isn’t much to visit and some may say it was not worth the trouble going there for such few places only. That may be why some draw up a trip schedule to Shein Ma Kar with trips to ancient city Han Lin, pilgrimage to Sagaing pagodas and a visit to Shwe Bo. But as with many other places, it had its beauty and attractions.
A big village Shein Ma Kar
Shein Ma Kar is a big village. It can also be designated as a small town. The main road through the big village or small town is noticeably busy even though the time I went there was not during the peak travel season. You’ll see the usual village scenes of a Bamar village even though some parts were more like a town than a village. It can be said as a traditional Bamar style village or small town with some modern influence. There were about a thousand households in Shein Ma Kar.
Wildlife conservation area and a forest retreat with many antiquities
The wildlife conservation area and the forest retreat monastery was the main attraction to the place. Even though the wildlife conservation area was aimed for conserving deer, I didn’t see any animal, not to mention deer, for the simple reason of being just at the outskirt of the wildlife conservation area. I only saw a dog, an ordinary dog found in many villages, towns, and cities, loitering around the monastery. The wildlife conservation area was reported to be 334 acres wide and had deer, wild dogs (not the usually domesticated dog species found in villages, towns, and cities), small wild cat species, fowls and birds.
The brick-lined pathway to the forest retreat monastery was a bit of an attraction with greeneries overhanging above it. It was a short path but due to the enjoyable and pleasant walk through it, it seems shorter as time and distance went by quickly. Once past the short pathway, you’ll be in the monastery compound. There’ll be an old monastery known as a forest retreat monastery that was constructed with the donation of King Mindon in ME 1224 (AD 1862). It was in a quite dilapidated condition and not much maintenance seems to be conducted. But old Myanmar architectural forms in concrete are still around in abundance and this was invaluable. There’s also a covered walkway or a rest area that was constructed with KingMindon’s donation. The monastery itself had retained and kept old utensils used by King Mindon himself.
Once past the old monastery, you’ll reach a small pagoda and a stairway that went down to Ayeyawady River. Go down the stairway to enjoy the beautiful sight of the river. Midway down the stairway, you’ll see cave-like meditation places.
Villages along the way back to Shwebo from Shein Ma Kar also had many old and ancient pagodas. The one that I found most interesting was at Inn Be Gyi Village.
The greeneries observed along the way to Shein Ma Kar, the beauty of Ayeyawady River and the Konbaung era monastery are things that will remain etched in my memory forever. May all have a happy and safe trip.