Mandalay is the second largest city in Burma (after Yangon), and a former capital of Myanmar. The city is the economic and religious hub of upper Myanmar and is centred around the Royal Palace.
It has wide lanes filled with bicycles and motorcycles and is known for its cultural diversity. Half of Burma's monks reside in Mandalay and the surrounding areas.
Mandalay, the very name evokes the splendours of the Burma of old. But, most people will be surprised to learn that Mandalay is not an old city, not even a medieval one, but rather a new city that was created by King Mingdon Min of Burma in 1857 as the new capital of the kingdom of Ava. Only two Burmese kings ruled from there, King Mingdon and King Thibaw, before the British conquest of Upper Burma in 1885. It was a city of splendour between 1858 and 1885 but most of the magnificence is gone, destroyed by the fire that consumed wooden structures and by intensive bombing by the Axis powers during the Second World War. The city, neatly planned with its lettered roads and numbered streets, is a British creation. The once magnificent Royal Palace and the great Atumashi (incomparable) pagoda, King Mingdon Min's finest creations, are modern reconstructions. Today, Mandalay lies at the end of the Lashio Road and it is, by Burmese standards, relatively prosperous as a centre for trade with China and as a centre for the growing trade with India. Despite the capital having been moved to Naypyidaw, Mandalay remains by far the main commercial centre of Upper Myanmar.
Mandalay is ethnically diverse, with the Bamar (Burmans) forming a slight majority. In recent years, there has been a major influx of Chinese from Mainland China, and the local Chinese (both recent migrants and descendants of colonial-era immigrants) form 30 to 40% of the population. Their influence is seen in the China-style glass buildings throughout the city, while the Yunnan dialect of Mandarin is often spoken among the ethnic Chinese community. Other prevalent ethnic groups include the Shan, who are ethnically and linguistically related to the Thais and Laotians, and the Karen (Kayin). There is a sizeable ethnic Indian population, including Nepalis and Sikhs.
Mandalay has a semi-tropical climate. Winter (which is dry and cold) lasts from November to February, and summer lasts from March to May. Because Mandalay is in the central dry zone, it receives far less rain than the more tropical south.
Nowadays Mandalay is known as the hub of Buddhism, Burmese Culture, the economic hub of Upper Myanmar’s main commercial, educational and health center. It is very famous for the Royal Palace surrounded by a moat, Maha Muni Pagoda brought from Rakhine State in 1784, Kuthodaw Pagoda with 729 marble stone slab pages known as the world’s largest book, Mandalay Hill, Shwenandaw Monastery, Atumashi (the incomparable) Monastery and also noted for woodcarvings, silverware, jade cutting and polishing, tapestries, silk weaving, and other products of traditional handicraft.
The Mahamuni Pagoda is a Buddhist temple and major pilgrimage site, located southwest of Mandalay. The Mahamuni Buddha image (literal meaning: The Great Sage) is deified in this temple, and originally came from Arakan, Rachine . It is highly venerated in Myanmar and central to many people's lives, as it is seen as an expression of representing the Buddha's life.
Ancient tradition refers to only five likenesses of the Buddha, made during his lifetime; two were in India, two in paradise, and the fifth is the Mahamuni Buddha image in Myanmar. According to the legend, the Buddha visited the Dhanyawadi city of Arakan in 554 BC. King Sanda Thuriya requested that an image was cast of him. After casting the Great Image, the Buddha breathed upon it, and thereafter the image became the exact likeness of the Mahamuni.
Golden Palace Monastery (Shwenandaw Kyaung)
Shwenandaw Monastery is a historic Buddhist monastery located near Mandalay Hill, Mandalay Region,Myanmar (formerly Burma). Shwenandaw Monastery was built in 1880 by King Thibaw Min who dismantled and relocated the apartment formerly occupied by his father, King Mindon Min, just before Mindon Min's death, at a cost of 120,000 rupees. Thibaw removed the building in October 1878, believing it to be haunted by his father's spirit. The building was reconstructed as a monastery over the course of 5 years, dedicated in memory of his father, on a plot adjoining Atumashi Monastery.
The building was originally part of the royal palace at Amarapura, before it was moved to Mandalay, where it formed the northern section of the Hmannan (Glass Palace) and part of the king's royal apartments. The building was heavily gilt with gold and adorned with glass mosaic work.
The monastery is known for its teak carvings of Buddhist myths, which adorn its walls and roofs. The monastery is built in the traditional Burmese architectural style. Shwenandaw Monastery is the single remaining major original structure of the original Royal Palace today.
Kuthodaw Pagoda and the World's Largest Book
The world's largest book stands upright, set in stone, in the grounds of the Kuthodaw pagoda (kuthodaw, "royal merit") at the foot of Mandalay Hill in Mandalay. It has 730 leaves and 1460 pages; each page is 107 centimetres (3.51 ft) wide, 153 centimeters (5.02 ft) tall and 13 centimetres (5.1 in) thick. Each stone tablet has its own roof and precious gem on top in a small cave-like structure of Sinhalese relic casket type called kyauksa gu (stone inscription cave in Burmese), and they are arranged around a central golden pagoda.
Mandalay Hill is a 240 meters (790 ft) hill that is located to the northeast of the city centre of Mandalay in Burma. The city took its name from the hill. Mandalay Hill is known for its abundance of pagodas and monasteries, and has been a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists for nearly two centuries. At the top of the hill is the Sutaungpyei (literally wish-fulfilling) Pagoda. A panoramic view of Mandalay from the top of Mandalay Hill alone makes it worthwhile to attempt a climb up its stairways. There are four covered stairways called saungdan leading up the hill from the south, southeast, west and north, and convenient seats of masonry work line these stairways all the way up. A one-way motor road today saves time and also makes it accessible for those who are unable to climb up the stairs, leading to an escalator and a lift to the pagoda at the summit.
The Mandalay Palace located in Mandalay,Myanmar, is the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy. The palace was constructed, between 1857 and 1859 as part of King Mindon's founding of the new royal capital city of Mandalay. The plan of Mandalay Palace largely follows the traditional Burmese palace design, inside a walled fort surrounded by a moat. The palace itself is at the centre of the citadel and faces east. All buildings of the palace are of one storey in height. The number of spires above a building indicated the importance of the area below.
Mandalay Palace was the primary royal residence of King Mindon and King Thibaw, the last two kings of the country. The complex ceased to be a royal residence and seat of government on 28 November 1885 when, during the Third Anglo-Burmese War, troops of the Burma Field Force entered the palace and captured the royal family. The British turned the palace compound into Fort Dufferin, named after the then viceroy of India. Throughout the British colonial era, the palace was seen by the Burmese as the primary symbol sovereignty and identity. Much of the palace compound was destroyed during World War II by allied bombing; only the royal mint and the watch tower survived. A replica of the palace was rebuilt in the 1990s with some modern materials.
Today, Mandalay Palace is a primary symbol of Mandalay and a major tourist destination.
The Atumashi Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located in Mandalay.
It was built in 1857 by King Mindon, two years after the capital was moved to Mandalay. The monastery was built at a cost of 500,000 rupees.The original monastery structure was built using teak, covered with stucco on the outside, with its peculiar feature being that it was surmounted by five graduated rectangular terraces instead of the traditional pyatthats, Burmese-style tiered and spired roofs.
The structure burned down in 1890 after a fire in the city destroyed both the monastery and the 30 feet (9.1 m) tall Buddha image, as well as complete sets of the Tipitaka. During the fire, a 19.2-carat (32 ratti) diamond, which adorned the Buddha image (originally given to King Bodawphaya by Maha Nawrahta, the Governor of Arakan) disappeared as well.
In 1996, Burma's Archaeological Department reconstructed the monastery with prison labor.
The Bagaya Monastery located in Inwa, Mandalay Region is a Buddhist monastery built on the southwest of Inwa Palace. This magnificent monastery is also known as Maha Waiyan Bontha Bagaya Monastery. During King Hsinbyushin’s reign (1763–1776), Maha Thiri Zeya Thinkhaya, town officer of Magwe built the monastery in the Bagaya monastic establishment and dedicated to Shin Dhammabhinanda. It is one of the famous tourist’s attractions in Myanmar.
Amarapura is situated about 11km south of Mandalay. It is an ancient capital of the Konbaung Dynasty. The modern town of Amarapura is now known as Taung Myo (or) the southern City. The old name means ‘city of immortality, but Amarapura’s period as capital was brief. The new capital was founded by King Bodawpaya in 1783 having transferred it from Ava. King Bagyidaw, Grandson of Bodawpaya shifted the capital back to Ava in 1823 King Tharawaddy who succeeded Bagyidaw, took the capital back to Amarapura. So, Amarapura again became the new capital in 1841. In 1857, King Min Don decided to make Mandalay the capital and the changeover was compiled in 1860. Unlike Mandalay where the old walls of the Royal City and the Moat are still seen other than a few indications of where the palace walls stood, the four corner Pagodas, the watchtower and the treasury (which are masonry contraction). In this area located the tombs of the two Kings Bodawpaya and Bagyidaw. In both the tombs you will find images of the Buddha.
In Amarapura, there is a remarkable huge teak bridge U Bein’s Bridge named after the town mayor of that name. U Bein Bridge, south of the Patodawgyi Pagoda in salvaging materials from the forsaken Ava Place for constructing the bridge. If you looked very carefully, you might even see sports of guiding on some of the teak poles and planks of the bridge which spans the Taung Taman Lake.
The Kyauk Tawgyi Pagoda, built by King Pagan in 1847 on the model of the Ananda Pagoda at Pagan. The Amarapura Kyauk Tawgyi is known to have been built entirely by Myanmar Architects. The stone image is a very well proportional and interesting fresco on the northern side of the Pagoda in two of the porches. Recreating the Bridge, the next shrine, which deserves a visit is the Patodawgyi Pagoda, built by King Bagyi Daw in 1820. It goes up in a series of five terraces finishing up with a small sikhara and finial. There are also an inscription-stone, giving the history of its foundation and a big brass bell. Besides the twin Pagodas the Shwe Kyet Yet and Shwe Kyet Kya, built by a King of Pagan in the 12th Century AD. There is a Pagoda the Nagayon-with a distinctive Architectural feature embodying the motif of a hooded snake.
For hundreds of years, Amarapura has had a place as an established centre for silk and cotton weaving especially silk. The saunter’s weaving institute started in 1914. Stipendiary Pupils learn handloom and fancy-work, weaving by Power-looms and textile printing.