Known as the valley of Rubies, Mogok is located 200 kilometers north of Mandalay, nestled in a valley between a number of large mountains where, due to its altitude (1170 meters), a cool temperate climate can found all year round. The area that is said to be home to 90% of the world’s high-grade rubies. Located in Mandalay Division and bordering Shan State, the Mogok area hosts a diverse ethnic population, including Bamar, Shan, Lisu, Palaung, and Karen ethnic groups, as well as Chinese, Indians and Gurkhas (descendants of a Nepalese group).
Mogok has been famous since ancient times for its gemstones, especially ruby and sapphire, but semi-precious stones such as spinel, lapis lazuli, garnet, moonstone, peridot and chrysoberyl are also found. The gems are found in alluvial marble gravels by means of panning, tunneling and digging pits by hand. There is little mechanization of the mining. The gravels derive from the metamorphosed limestones (marbles) of the Mogok metamorphic belt. 90% of certain versions of the world’s rubies come from Myanmar and Mogok rubies are considered the best. The red stones from there are prized for their purity and hue including the world’s finest “pigeon’s blood” rubies as well as the world’s most beautiful sapphires in “royal” blue.
Mogok has been famous for centuries for its gemstones (including pigeon’s blood rubies and blue sapphires that have been cited in ancient Burmese literature), as well as a dazzling array of semi-precious stones including lapis lazuli, garnet, moonstone, amethyst, peridot and chrysoberyl. Rare stones such as painite, hibbonite, and poudretteite are found only in Mogok and a few other gem localities.
As spectacular as the gemstones of Mogok are the town’s lake and the pagoda-covered mountains surrounding the city. The golden stupas of Phaung Daw Oo and Paw Daw Mu pagodas, associated with the famous monk known as Mogok Sayadaw, can be found strewn atop sharp inclines on Daw Nan Kyi mountain. The tranquil Mogok Lake can be found adjacent to the city, and there is also a little-known World War II veteran cemetery that is located just outside of town.