Exploring Mogok, the Ruby Land
(Picture of Mogok)
Do you know 90% of certain kind of world rubies come from Myanmar? The world’s finest “pigeon’s blood” rubies and the world’s most beautiful sapphires in “royal” blue come from Mogok. More amazing fact is that the original source of ruby comes from the “Valley of Rubies”, the mountainous Mogok area, Myanmar. Despite of its cold and pleasant weather, many mistake Mogok is in Shan State. Mogok is actually located in Mandalay Division and quite close to Shan State.
Located on a hilly region, you need to overcome 999 turns to get Mogok if you come by car along with MaTaYa road. From Yangon, it will take about 15 hour drive to get Mogok. Flight is also available from Yangon to Mandalay and then take a ride to get Mogok if you are seeking for an energy saving trip.
Where to Go
To describe Mogok, it is a peaceful town with a very big lake located in the middle, making its atmosphere cool and pleasant every season. There are a lot to see in Mogok as well a lot to taste. Waterfalls, motels with amazing views, delicious and mouth-watering street-food will make your stay exciting and wonderful. Start your day with delicious local breakfast_Shan noodle, Hot Tofu Noodle, Wheat Noodle, Shan pickled Rice, Fish Rice, fried soft Tofu, NanTone (Pork Fat), and Shan pickles and other delicious dishes will definitely make your choice difficult.
After breakfast, burn your calories with your tour around Mogok. Starting from Phaung-Taw-Oo Pagoda, which is famous for not getting burnt during WorldWarII, you can see jewellery embedded thrones, Buddha statues and many jewelleries. According to local guide, some gems in the thrones are priceless nowadays.
(Silver Jewellery Throne in Phaung-Taw-Oo Pagoda)
There is also a famous Chinese Temple called “Thousand Pagodas Temple” where Buddha statues are put in small caves engraved in the wall of a big rock. You can see many different small plants and little monks studying and playing.
(Thousand Pagodas Temple)
Jewellery Market, Hta-Pwal
Many visit Mogok to see Hta-Pwal (Gem market) where locals sell gems and jewelleries in an open market. There are two kind of such gem markets, morning market with a large range of gem and jewellery varieties for visitors and evening market for mostly businesses where sellers sit, show and explain gems to buyers. Evening Hta-Pwal is also suitable for those who start learning about gems. You will see and know a lot about gems just by watching the sellers showing and selling their gems to the buyers. If you are a sunset person, Ruby Pagoda and Chan-Tha-G Pagoda are recommended. Since Mogok is a hilly region, from 4:30pm mist starts to cover the whole town with its cool atmosphere and it is really nice to stay on pagoda and enjoy the sunset and night view in winter.
If you visit Mogok in winter, starting from ‘Welcome to Mogok’ signboard, you will see endless sunflower mountains, where the whole mountains are covered in wild sunflowers, and it also looks great in photos. Kyuk-Lat-Nyo and Kyuk-Pya-Thet are rock mountains, on top of which are Pagoda shrines, great places to see the whole town and also good place to see and feel the clouds in very blue sky. One thing to get you amazed is Violet Sunflower, which you can see only in Kyuk-Pya-Thet and Daw-Nan-Kyi Mountain. If you cannot find, ask a local and they will point violet flowers blooming from the side of rock mountains.
(View from Kyuk-Pya-Thet)
Local guide told a heart-breaking tale of Daw-Nan-Kyi Mountain and will share it here. Once upon a time, there was a person called Nga-Mouk who could dig a very qualified ruby. He halved it and gave a half to Myanmar King and the rest to Chinese King. Chinese King gave his half to Myanmar King as present and Myanmar King found out the halves were from the same ONE ruby. He got angry with Nga-Mouk and told his men to punish the whole family. Daw Nan, sister of Nga-Mouk was in the forest at that time and when she got back into the village, the other villagers told her about the King’s punishment. So she went back into the forest again and when she looked back, she saw smokes from burning of their houses. She was too exhausted and tiring that she fainted and died on the spot. That mountain was called Daw-Nan-Kyi (Kyi = See) Mountain since that time.
(The cave where Mogok Sayataw meditated)
Mogok is also famous among world’s Buddhists for Mogok Sayataw and his teachings of Buddhism. The cave where Mogok Sayataw meditated, the place he sleep, and the building for Yogi are maintained in the best condition for tourists. You can learn and see Buddhism rules and meditation and get inspired in religious beliefs there.
Since Mogok is full of gem pits, there is a saying from elderly locals that “If the river turns white, the town will be ruined” _ meaning the water from the river flowing through the pits where gem diggers wash the soil off from raw gems has always needed to get red (the colour of Mogok soil is red), unless the gem digging business would stop. Mogok’s famous gems are ruby and sapphire but semi-precious stones such as spinel, lapis lazuli, garnet, moonstone, peridot and chrysoberyl are also popular among gem traders. The gems are found in alluvial marble gravels and locals get the gems by panning, tunneling and digging pits by hand. Many pits are left nowadays and with a local guide, you can go inside and learn how small each pit is and how hot and hard to stay in
and dig to find gems.
(Selling cheap and uncleaned gems in rocks)
If you have a chance, try visiting Mogok for it is near Mandalay and has an interesting background history. This may also be your first experience to see selling jewelleries and gems in an open market.
(Jewellery Market, “Hta-Pwal”)