Mawlamyine (or Moulmein), Myanmar’s third largest city after Yangon and Mandalay is the capital of the Mon State. With a population of about 240,000, Mawlamyine is an ancient Mon town. Meaning “one eye destroyed”, according to legend, the name originates from the word ‘Mot-Mua-Lum’. Legend has it that in ancient times, there lived a king who had three eyes. With a third eye in the centre of his forehead, it is believed that he had the power to see what was going on in the surrounding kingdoms. A princess of a neighboring country was given to him in marriage. It was a conspiracy, and eventually this queen was able to destroy the king’s all-seeing third eye.
Today, with many new public and private buildings under construction, Mawlamyine is being transformed into a busy, modern city. However, the old pagodas on the Mawlamyine Ridge will be preserved to retain the city’s cultural heritage.
Mawlamyine can be reached by road, rail or by air. However, as Myanmar Airways flies to Mawlamyine only twice a week (Thursdays and Sundays), many travel by car, bus or train. At present, there are three regular trains from Yangon to Mottama (or Martaban), the terminus across the Than Lwin (Salween) River from Mawlamyine. They leave Yangon at 3a.m., 4a.m. and 8a.m daily and reach Mottama in about seven hours.
The journey from Mottama to Mawlamyine is a pleasant half-hour river crossing by passenger or car ferry. The ferry crosses in a south-easterly direction across the wide expanse of the Than Lwin River near its mouth. During the journey, one can see Bilu Gyun (Ogre Island) toward the west.