Not all tourist attractions are about the fun, happy, beautiful, creative and majestic. There are also those that are strange and depressing. This is also true in Myanmar. The Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Yangon is a leading tourist attraction in this Southeast Asian country and here are the reasons why.
The mausoleum represents a very important time in the history of Myanmar and the city of Rangoon (now Yangon) to be specific. It was in this spot where General Aung San, Myanmar’s freedom fighter and father of the Independence Movement was assassinated together with his body guards and six of his cabinet members, who were all part of Aung San’s interim government. They were Thakin Mya, Ba Cho, Ba Win, Abdul Razak, Mahn Ba Khain and Sao San Tun. Their bodies are now preserved in the mausoleum. The then Ministry of Finance, Tin Tut, survived the violence.
The fateful day was July 19, 1947, which was one of the darkest days in Myanmar’s history. At 10:37 a.m. during a cabinet meeting at the Secretariat in Yangon, Aung San and his men were gunned down by a group of uniformed men, believed to have been sent by a rival political party led by U Saw. On December 30 of the same year, U Saw and his cohorts were sentenced to death. Eventually, U Saw was hanged on May 8, 1948. Investigations revealed that the British were behind U Saw’s plans by financing his group. Today, July 19 is Myanmar’s “Martyr’s Day”, an important national holiday commemorating the assassinations. Every year, an official tribute is given at the mausoleum to those who suffered on the fateful day. Government officials and family members lay a wreath at the site every year. Traditionally, high-ranking government officials come to the Mausoleum in the morning of July 19 to pay their respects.
Besides its historical value, the mausoleum is attracting a number of well-wishers and tourists also for the reason that it is near popular tourist destinations in Yangon such as the Shwedagon Pagoda, Kandawgyi Nature Park or Kandawgyi Garden, and Karaweik.
Myanmar is home to thousands of pagodas, temples and shrines, tens of which are in the city of Yangon. One of the most sacred and honored is Shwedagon Pagoda. This huge pagoda is gilded with more than 8 tons of gold, creating an amazing site. It enshrines important ancient relics, such as the hair of Gautama Buddha, which is considered by devotees as a very sacred relic. Meanwhile, Yangon’s Kandawgyi Garden is a rich and beautiful garden situated at the eastern stairway of the popular pagoda on the Natmaik Road and Kandawgyi Kanpat Road. Finally, Karaweik is a park inside the Kandawgyi Garden that is named after a mythical bird of Myanmar. Another nearby park is the People’s Park and People’s Square, which is a huge 130-acre park between the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Parliament House.
The Martyr’s Mausoleum of Myanmar is located on a small hill near the stairway of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Visitors to the pagoda simply need to cross the entrance of the Shwedagon Pagoda at the northern side to get to the mausoleum.