Mandalay City

The location is right in the center of the country serving as a economic hub for “upper Myanmar”, via the Irrawaddy, it is also a cultural and religious center. Many small workshops around the Mahamuni Pagoda are producing arts and crafts such as marble, wood and jade sculptures.

 

The city is accessible by air via several airlines

and rail, river and road travel, here is the second international airport in the country. There are countless hotels of all sizes in the city they often have a Chinese owner and the resorts and restaurants too.

A very good one is the Sedona Hotel from there is a breathtaking view over the palace, the moat and the hill. Actually that hotel is just on the other side of the road along the palace wall, Mandalay Hill Hotel is another up market accommodation.

The brown water of the Irrawaddy moves right in front of the city and a river cruise is almost a must. Nothing sophisticated just take a boat at the jetty and tell the boat men to cross over to Mingun, that’s about a half hour float and it will bring a very different and interesting view.

There are other short distance boats and ships to Sagaing and Mingun. Larger river ships connect with upper or northern Burmaare passing by and there is lots of action a a busy scene every day because this is the second biggest river port in the country number one is Yangon.

Bamboo rafts dominate the picture, underneath teak logs are fixed they don’t swim very good because they are to heavy.

 

Road to Mandalay Myanmar

The road to Mandalay was made famous by Kipling

and a cruise on the mighty Ayeyarwady River or Irrawaddy River to Bagan is still a great event with the vessel “Road to Mandalay”.

Some years ago the new international airport was completed now travel became more easy, the city has the only international airport beside Yangon airport. Until now only one international flight from Chiang Mai in Thailand is available but maybe this will change soon when they get the tourist business going.

mandalay palace

The Mandalay Palace enclosed with a moat and a wall fortification is probably the most impressive structure in the city beside of the Mahamuni Pagoda and Temple. There are plenty of other beautiful religious structures in the vicinity, in particular on the other side of the Irrawaddy at Sagaing and Mingun.

Totally destroyed and burned down after a direct hit by a Japanese bomb from an aircraft during WW2 it took a long time to to rebuild everything according to the old construction plans, read more.

 

Mandalay Photos

 

Plenty of photos tell much more, here is a rich collection of taken over a long period showing how attractive this city is. When arriving the first time the whole wont look interesting and very it is very dusty but after some sightseeing the highlights and more come up.

It is almost mandatory to invest some dollars into a tour guide otherwise you are lost and you will never find the interesting stuff within a short timeframe, read more.

 

amarapura city wall

The old city of Amarapura  now stands in ruins amongst this debris one could still find a treasury building and old Watch Tower. The tombs of King Bodawpaya and Bagyidaw are there, though the cremated ashes of these Kings have been put into velvet bags and thrown into the Irrawaddy in the old city some old stupas remained to be seen.

Close by are the older royal cities Innwa (Ava), Sagaing and Shwebo. Other interesting places around are Taungthaman Lake and the U Bein bridge, among others. It had been the royal city twice King Badon (Bodawpaya) and King Tharyarwaddy. King Badon (Bodawpaya) founded Amarapura in 1782, read more.

 

Monsoon at Sagaing

A Daytrip to Sagaing and having a look around the pagoda and temples which are often close to the banks of the Irrawaddy and the hills behind. At this area it’s virtually possible to breath Buddhism and Asian history, there is such an high amount of Buddhist shrines in various forms and sizes, it’s amazing. The dedication of the people to the religion is immense it might have something to do with the fact that most people are very poor and when they wont see a chance of better living it is often that they flee into religion.

Even by local standards there are a lot and this are no ruins, they are all well maintained and in good conditions but I always wonder when the people start to learn insulating the brick walls because the monsoon flood needs continuous renovation, read more.

 

mingun pagoda

The Mingun pagoda and the area around is another spectacular daytrip destination. The best is to get to the jetty take a boat and cross the Irrawaddy already the works at the banks is very interesting since this one of the biggest river harbor in the country. Items moved are mainly logs, bamboo and big jars. The water which comes from the Tibetan Himalayas offshoots is the life spender of the country what is somehow strange is that it is not used in a better way. This area and down to Bagan is the “dry zone” but they have this immense water way running through, although its very dry.

The crossing itself is very interesting because of the river life around, people live at the waterfront, there are very lively scenes, read more.

 

Palace Center
Mandalay Palace Center

Mandalay Palace Moat and Wall

Palace Moat and Wall
Mandalay Palace Moat and Wall

 

Palace Interior

 

 

The town was built under King Mindon starting at 1856, it was the last city where Burmese Kings ruled, the not so old citadel of the Konebaung dynasty who ruled the country for the last time before the British annexation in 1885.

At that time a river cruise was the only means of transportation. Today the city is the number three tourist destination in the country and is flooded by Chinese immigrants from behind the northern border.

The city  is still the hub and center of culture and communication with markets, temples and a great Buddhist legacy with countless monasteries and pagodas.

Only the real road is in real bad condition, potholes and craters are the normality, cows prefer to walk the street and its very dusty.

It took the combined effort of the local military who convinced the richer crowd of the city to donated money for rebuilding and as we see today it worked, rebuilding was done by the end of the 198X.

The interior is not up to date since too many items and goods where looted and stolen by the British colonialists. The Brits where literally spoken the pain in the a…. of Burma, they destroyed virtually everything directly or indirectly and were seeding hate between the different ethnicities to play them against each other and manipulate them.

One of the ways they did it was they brought in Christian missionaries who manipulated the mind of Karen and Chin people, the aftermath is still visible today.

What they left when they run away was a workable train system, some administration, the capital Yangon, which was completely rebuilt by the British and a good education system. Over the years all this got rotten and partly vanished now the hope is that after slowly opening up the country everything will become better, this is probably but it will take at least one or two generations.

 

Mandalay palace and spire
Throne Hall at Mandalay Palace

Mandalay City still retains its old traditions

and is the centre of attractions for its historical heritage, in the center is the fully restored palace.

Mandalay is well-known and famous for the presence of significant monasteries, pagodas, temples and religious edifices and also for the palace right in front of the hill where the last two kings, King Mindon and King Thibaw, resided, a reminder to British colonial time, means travel to see the real thing before it vanish, there is a hotel for every taste and budget to handle this.

Book a tour to visit some oft the most venerated pagodas and temples in the country, such as the Mahamuni Temple and Pagoda complex and countless other sacral buildings and monasteries.

A Irrawaddy River Cruise is one of the best trips around no need to take a long

mandalay

Mahamuni

Irrawaddy River Cruise

Daytrip to Sagaing Kaung Hmu Daw Pagoda

Sagaing is one of the most exiting Mandalay daytrip.

long cruise. It only needs to walk to river bank and try to find a sampan for about 2 hours and tell the guy he should move up and downstream and cross the Irrawaddy to Mingun.

This old city is a famous one with incredible pagodas, temples and some monasteries, there is plenty to see which give a good insight into the daily life of the people.

The best would be to get a tour guide because they know better what to do and everything goes much faster as if you do it on your own, guides like Lonely Planet etc. are useless for this, read more.

Another sightseeing trip could be done into the Shan hills to Pyin Oo Lwin or Maymyo the former British hill station. They have a beautiful botanical garden with plenty of exotic flowers.

Because of the pleasant climate, its around thousand meters high, this was already the preferred place during British occupation. This is the usual temperature on the Shan plateau, resulting into production of temperate

climate vegetables, fruits and flowers. To the west a daytrip leads toMonywa with a incredible temple and pagoda scenery, this city in the center of the country is the hub for the central and northern part of the country, before they called this “upper Burma”.

The first daytrip should be to the top of Mandalay hill, its the best view and orientation point in the city, from there the palace and the most interesting monasteries, temple and pagodas can be spotted, a long lens camera should be taken with. The view over the city and the Irrawaddy River (Ayeyarwady) is breathtaking, during monsoon times it looks like a big lake where some  white pagodas pop out. Mandalay a fascinating city, but only at the second or third glance. It needs a bit of and explorer mind to find the the interesting things. It is almost mandatory to take a tour guide, otherwise everyone will miss more than the half of the interesting sites and views. It also makes it more easy to get into a monastery, temple and Pagoda since the people there usually know the guy or the lady, read more.

 

Mandalay Hill

Mandalay Hill, there are several accommodations in this area.

Mandalay Hill offers a panoramic view over the city,

and over the Irrawaddy show a flat scenery with the Ayeyarwady – Irrawaddyriver in between. Legend tells that a ogress after a arguing with Lord Buddha decided to cut off her breasts and presented the same to Buddha.

There upon, Buddha solaced her and made a prophesy that the ogress would be reborn as a prince. This prophesy turned out to be when the city was founded by the pious King Mindon who convened the Fifth Buddhist Synod (Council) in 1871, read more.

 

Hill and Palace

This is the landmark of the city

the last royal city of the Burmese Kings, The view from the hill offers a great panorama over the city the royal palace, Kuthodaw Pagoda, the sleepy town of Sagaing on the bank of ever-flowing mother Irrawaddy or Ayeyarwady, to the west and  the blue ridge of the Shan mountains, to the east. At a tour the Mandalay Myanmar hill should be the first stop since it provides great scenes and beauty that supplements the visual value of the city. Emerald-green Nanda Lake is close to it. The hill is 236 m high and situated just northeast of the city, standing there and enjoying peace and tranquility, joy and

 

Buddha on Mandalay Hill

contentment to be in harmony with nature. Two large and majestic Lion statues are guarding the entrance to the hill and will take 1729 steps to the apex. After taking 435 steps, one will reach the observation platform from where one can have bird’s eye view of the stunning scenes and sights. From my own experience I tell you take a car to get up there to climb up the stairs is very exhaustive and get you into serious health trouble if you are not in good fitness conditions. There are a couple of similar situations in Thailand and Cambodia. Legends tell, there is a strong tradition belief that at one times, Buddha and his faithful disciple Ananda happened to visit the hill.

Buddha emphatically prophesied that in the 2400th year of Buddhist Religion (1857), a great metropolis would be founded at his foot. That prediction came into reality during the reign of King Mindon (1853-78) who transferred his royal capital of Amarapura to his newly built city. To commemorate the great event a huge Buddha standing statue is constructed, pointing his right arm to the direction of the city.

 

King Thibaw and British

This statue was originally commissioned by King Mindon and later restored by famous Great Hermit, U Khanti. It is known as Byadeikpay Buddha statue (Foretelling Buddha).Peshawar relics, at this place, one will find a pagoda that shrines relics of Buddha. It is surprising; the Buddha relics came from Peshawar, 2000 years ago. Peshawar is also called Purushapura, well known as the centre of Ghandara Art, the ancient and oldest school of Buddhist Art in the world. The Ruler of Kushana dynasty, in the 2nd century, opened up the stupa of the Great Emperor Asoka and redistributed the contents.

During the 20th century, when the British made archaeological excavations there, they discovered a reliquary containing Buddha’ relics, belonging to Kushana Kings. As the Muslims had no idea to deal with those relics, the British had no option but to present the same to the people. Hence, the authentic Buddha relics are to be enshrined in the said pagoda. One of the most beautiful Burmese Buddhist pagoda – temple is in PenangMalaysia.

King Thibaw and Queen Supayalat

Because of the population growth and a unhealthy environment the King intended to shift his capital from Amarapura to Mandalay. New foundations were laid about 1856-57, precise square and oblong blocks were planned. The city  started flourishing in the year 1859. The King’s palace was built at the centre of  Myanmar Mandalay covered by moats and city walls, it was almost square.

King Thibaw was the last King of Burma

and Queen Supayalat was the last Queen, picture above – the picture is from 1880. He has been the last Burmese ruler. His short reign (1878’85) ended with the occupation of Upper Burma by the British. He was strongly influenced by his wife, Supayalat, and her mother. In an attempt to play the French against the British. King Thibaw’s government granted the French economic concessions in exchange for a political help. To cover their interests the British colonial administration in Rangoon, Calcutta, and London started all kind of foul play to King Thibaw of Myanmar Mandalay gain immediate annexation of Upper Burma.

King Mindon

When King Mindon

ascended the throne, the King found a new and flourishing city at the foot of the hill, to be known as Yadanabon. Here, Buddhism will be promoted and perpetuated. King Mindon (1853-1878) was upright, wise and compassionate, he ruled the country efficiently. He made vast and far-reaching reforms in the fields of administration, economy and judiciary. He also sent envoys to Europe for the first time. The first minister who visited the West was distinguished minister, Kinwun Mingyi, eminent administrator and jurist.

King Mindon convened the Fifth Buddhist Synod (Sangayana), engraving the Buddhist scriptures at the Kuthodaw Pagoda at the foot of the hill. The Buddhist Canon of Tripitaka Texts were inscribed on 729 marble slabs and housed in small shrines there. It constitutes the “World’s Biggest Book”. If piled up it will reach the height of 20 storied high rise building. King Thibaw (1878-1885), the last king who ruled the country. Buddhist scriptures at the Kuthodaw Pagoda.

teak monastery

Several monasteries are constructed by solid teak wood including rich interior decoration done by teak carving. There is plenty of art and crafts around.
Art and Crafts

The city probably has together with Amarapura and the Sagaing Hills on the other side of the Irrawaddy the highest concentration of monasteries. Some of them went with modern times and restructured their monasteries into meditation centers.

Some of the most beautiful teak carved monasteries are in Myanmar Mandalay, its amazing to see all this artwork, there is no problem to visit them, the people are very friendly and foreigner oriented, but visit the places together with a guide since you don’t know how to handle this in the proper way, a donation would be taken positive before leaving, most monasteries are existing via external contributions.

Mandalay Myanmar is a incredible oriental city on the best historical sense, full with everything which makes the old orient so interesting. At a first glance not much to see and also the flat area in this part of the dry zone shows lots of dust and nothing interesting, but a second and third look is needed to get the old orient unfold.

Among other, there are still the old quarters where arts and crafts are made. Silk weaver, marble sculpture, wood carver, bronze and brass casting, jade carver and so on, have a look at the images.

This work is done mainly in open air, sometimes even just at the pavement. Everyone at Mandalay Myanmar is positive when people are watching, this places are also ideal to buy genuine and unique items and souvenirs.

 

Mahamuni Temple Pagoda

The Mahamuni Temple and Pagoda is probably the most venerated in the city, actually its not only the temple which is very interesting, its the same with they area around the temple which is one of the oldest quarter for arts and crafts in the modern history of the country.

There are woodcarver, artists creating marble Buddha statues creator and everything around this theme, more.

Brief Chronology of the city

11.Sept.1853 a general meeting of monks and other men held at Masoeyane Monastery decided against the move of the capital to a new site.13.Sept.1853 A petition was put up to the king to convey the fact that public opinion was against the
move of capital.
30.Oct.1856 A survey team was sent to inspect site for the new capital.
31.Oct.1856 A plan was drawn for the new capital.
29.Dec.1856 A detailed program was written to carry out the ceremonial and ritualistic side of the construction scheme, care was taken that none of the formalities omitted.
13.Jan.1857 A Royal Order was issued sanctioning the built of a new capital at a site called Mandalay. 2.Feb.1857 Repair of water reservoir around the new site started and finished in two month’s time.
13.Feb.1857 City and Palace plan and fortification plan were marked out and pegged.
25.Feb.1857 Leveling the ground for the Palace.
6.Mar.1857 The earth was ploughed up at the city and Palace sites by gold and silver ploughs.
14.Mar.1857 A camp was put up at the northwest corner within the Palace site to serve as a temporary
abode of the royalty.
7.May.1857 Construction for an arsenal began.
14.May.1857 Coronation; prisoner released; decision to revive the Thathameda tax.
25.June.1857 Exterior decoration put up at the royal palace camp.
2.July.1857 The king moved to the royal Palace camp with the idea to supervise the palace construction himself, monsoon flooding couldn’t stop him.
24.July.1857 A stockade put up around the palace site.
26.July.1857 The king inspected the various constructions in the city.
7.Aug.1857 Cutting wood for the Palace began.
July-Aug.1857 New city area was divided into plots for residential and commercial quarters.
1864 With the help of Bishop Bigandet, a steam printing press was set up that could pro
duce Pitaka written on 864 palm leaves by only single impression.
March 1864 Ten homes for the aged poor were put under a German medical man called Merbie.
6.July.1865 King Mindon made six of his sons promise abstinence from drinking liquor.
11.July.1884 Telegram mentioned the Chinese attack of Bhamo; 1670 soldiers dispatched.
17.July.1884 Another 1650 soldiers dispatched; the Chinese surrender after one-month fight.
7.Nov.1885 King Thibaw declared war on the British and ordered the march of troops along three
routes ‘ 5000 men down the Irrawaddy river, 5000 men along the Taundwingyi route and
5000 men along the Toungoo route.
25.Nov.1885 The British occupied Myingyan, King Thibaw considered evacuation but the queen was sick,
queen mother too old and the royal princesses too young and so abandoned the idea of
leaving the city; decided to give in to all demands made by the British.
1.Mar.1889 386 miles of the railway line to Yangon were completed.
1901 The British Viceroy of India Lord Curzon visited the city; he gave order to move the
British troops out of the Palace immediately and to preserve the palace as a national
museum.
19.Feb.1942 Mandalay Myanmar was bombed by the Japanese for the first time.
1.May.1942 Occupied by the Japanese.
17.Mar.1945 The Palace was destroyed by the Japanese.
11.Mar.1949 Mandalay Myanmar was occupied by Karen rebels, they left on 6.April.
7.July.1967 The Ludu Daily, the only newspaper of Mandalay Myanmar was stopped from publication.
Ref: From DR. THAN TUN books

Mandalay City

This tram or streetcar in Mandalay City was the first in Asia, was running in the city during the same time as the Meiji dynasty was on in Japan. During this time the development of Burma was about the same as the development in Japan.

The British colonialists destroyed everything according to the doctrine to keep the country purely as a supplier for raw material. This is one of the reason why there is this mess in the country, the foundation for this was laid by the British.