Three famous pagodas adorn the Mawlamyine Ridge out of which the Kyaik-than-lan Pagoda was erected in 875 A.D. during the reign of King Mutpi Raja. A hair relic of the Buddha, Tripitaka manuscripts and gold images of the Buddha were enshrined in the pagoda. In the years that followed, successive kings raised the pagoda higher and higher until it reached a height of 46m from its original height of 17m. The base of the pagoda at present is 137m in circumference and right around it there are 34 small pagodas called Zediyan. ‘Kyaik’ in Mon language means a Cedi or Stupa. King Anawrahta, founder of the Bagan Dynasty repaired the pagoda and it was later enlarged by Mon kings, chiefly King Wagaru of Mottama in 1538 A.D. The platform has a big bell with a medieval Mon inscription on it and another bell with a quaint inscription in English, dating back to 30th March 1885. It reads: “This bell made by Koonalenga the priest. and weight 500 viss. No one body design to destroy this bell.” There is also a memorial to the famous Thingaza Sayadaw who passed away in Mawlamyine in 1900.
It was the Kyaik-than-lan Pagoda that the famous English poet Rudyard Kipling wrote about in his poem “Mandalay” which opens with the line: “By the old Moulmein Pagoda, Looking lazy at the sea”.