Mandalay Information

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History of Mandalay

 

Mandalay, as the center of Myanmar culture, was outstanding in the past, it holds the stage now; and it will continue to
be a place of pride in the future. It is situated about 600 kilometers north of Yangon on the Ayeyarwaddy river, is, with
about half a Million inhabitants Myanmar's second largest city.

Mandalay is the historical old capital, a capital of Myanmar culture, Buddhist Sasana and Myanmar traditional arts and
crafts, with the life span of one hundred and forty two years, a city which abounds in historical sites, cultural memorials
and Buddhist edifices. Accordingly, it is the richest historical landmark next to Bagan.

Despite the wonderful sound of its name, inviting associations to an archaic fairy tale kingdom, Mandalay is neither very
old nor particularly beautiful. But Mandalay was the capital of the last, independent Burmese kingdom, which in 1886
was finally conquered by British colonial forces.

The town had been founded only 29 years earlier in 1857 by King Mindon, making it the capital of an independent
kingdom for less than 30 years. In 1857 Mandalay was set up in an empty area, because, according to an ancient
prophecy, in that exact place a town would come into existence on occasion of the 2,400th jubilee of Buddhism.

The city was named after the Mandalay Hill, which is situated at the northeast corner of the present city. The hill has for
long been a holy mount and it is believed that Lord Buddha prophesied that a great city, metropolis of Buddhism, would
be founded at its foot. It was King Mindon who fulfilled the prophecy.

King Mindon decided to fulfill the prophecy and during his reign in the Kingdom of Amarapura he issued a royal order on
13 January, A.D 1857 to establish a new kingdom. The Ceremony of Ascending the Throne was celebrated in July, 1858.
The royal city and the kingdom was demarcated. The whole royal city was called Lay Kyun Aung Mye ("Victorious Land
over the Four Islands") and the royal palace, the Mya Nan San Kyaw ("The Royal Emerald Palace"). The kingdom was
called the Kingdom of Yadanabon, along with other name Ratanapura, mean " The Bejeweled Site ". Later it was called
Mandalay after the Mandalay Hill, 2.5km far to the north east of the royal palace, and today the name still exists. The
name " Mandalay " is a derivative of the Pali word " Mandala ", which means " a plainsland " and also that of the Pali
word " Mandare ", which means " an auspicious land ".

At that time a transfer of the capital not only meant leaving an old town and erecting a new town in a different place.
As all secular buildings of that time, including the royal palaces, were built from wood, a transfer of the capital meant
the complete dismantling of the houses of the old settlement, which then were loaded on carts and the backs of
elephants to be reconstructed at the place chosen for the new town.

But in 1782 the town was packed up and moved about 8 kilometers to the Northeast, to the aforementioned Amaraputra.
In 1823 the entire capital was dismantled again and rebuilt 8 kilometers Southwest in Ava. But in 1838 Ava was
damaged by an earthquake, and was therefore in 1841 packed up again and once more transferred to Amarapura. But
this was not of duration either, as only 16 years later the entire town was moved again this time 12 kilometers to the
Northeast to the present Mandalay.

The rhyming couplet easy to memorize the year of building the royal city is " Okkyit-Kyaw Aye / Mandalay " or " Aung
Kyaw Chan Aye / Mandalay " ( i.e, M.E 1221 ). The city's layout of the construction is the same at that of the earlier
Kingdom of Amarapura, and from the bird's eye-view, it has the structure of geographical squares and rectangular
shapes, with streets and roads crossing one another at right angles. There are four parts dividing the city, namely,
Ashe-pyin ( East Part ), Anok-pyin (west Part), Taung-pyin (southern part) and Myauk-pyin (Northern Part), with 54
plots.

With the Ground-breaking ceremony, King Mindon laid the foundation of Mandalay on the 6th waning day of Kason, M.E
1221, (A.D 1857). The King simultaneously laid the foundations of seven edifices: the royal city with the battlemented
walls, the moat surrounding it, the Maha Lawka Marazein Stupa, the higher ordination hall named the Pahtan-haw Shwe
Thein, the Atumashi ( the Incomparable ) monastery, the Thudhama Zayats or public houses for preaching the Doctrine,
and the library for the Buddhist scriptures.

At the time of building, the royal moat was 68.58m wide and 3.35m deep, and was fed with water from the Yadana
Nadi, now called the Ye Ni Canal. In 1995 the moat was dug anew and the banks were laid neatly and firmly with rocks.
There existed 20 gardens, a huge earthen wall and 57 doors palace. There existed 5 bridges spanning over the moat and
12 bridges. At present, there are four spanning bridges, namely the U-hteik Bridge to the east the Kyaw Moe Bridge to
the south, the Kye Mon Bridge to the west and the Lay Thein Bridge to the north.

When King Mindon passed away, his son King Thibaw ascended the throne, and in M.E 1247, Myanmar fell under the
British colony. It was the old capital ruled by two successive kings the one where the last of Myanmar's monarchs
reigned.

After the British had conquered Mandalay in 1886 they turned the royal palaces of Mandalay into their military
headquarters and christened the complex Fort Dufferin.

During World War II the Japanese installed a military camp in the same place, which then was bombed by the allies,
until nothing was left of the ancient palace buildings.

Mandalay today is a striking phenomenon composed of modern and classic images with the ancient cultural beauty of
the royal palace and the moat surrounding it, and the natural impressionistic beauty of the Mandalay Hill, harmoniously
added with new architectural phonography of modern houses and brick buildings.

The former palace ground is known by the name of Fort Mandalay. Of the ancient palaces a few concrete replica have
been built and further reconstructions are being conducted.

 

Foundation of Mandalay

2500 years ago, the Buddha travelled to Mandalay Hill with his disciple Ananda. They were greeted there by an ogress named Chandamukhi (Moon Face), who cut off her breasts and presented them to the Buddha as an offering.
Mandalay is barely more than 150 years old, but the site is steeped in sacred folklore that dates back long before the royal city was established by King Mindon in 1858. It is said that the Buddha, during his lifetime 2500 years ago, travelled to Mandalay Hill with his disciple Ananda.They were greeted there by an ogress named Chandamukhi (Moon Face), who cut off her breasts and presented them to the Buddha as an offering. Pointing in the direction of the present site of Mandalay Palace, the Buddha predicted that 2400 years after his own death, Chandamukhi, now reborn as a king, would establish a royal city at the foot of the hill.
This episode is acknowledged by several monuments that can still be seen today, not least of which is the cyclopean wall
of the royal palace, each side of which was built to measure 2400 ta (1 ta is roughly equal to 3.5 meters), or about 1.6
kilometers long. Meanwhile, a sculpture of the kneeling Chandamukhi, her severed breasts resting in her upturned hands, can be found in a small pavilion just below the summit of Mandalay Hill, while a shrine called Shweyattaw Hpaya (Golden Pointing Buddha), also located near the top of the hill, holds an image of the standing Buddha pointing in the
direction of Mandalay, with another statue of disciple Ananda kneeling beside him.Today's images are actually restorations completed in 1909 to replace the originals, which had been commissioned by King Mindon in 1860 but were destroyed by fire in 1892. Among the structures in the Mandalay area that predate the establishment of the capital is Eindawya Paya, located west of the palace site and marking the astrologically determined place where Prince Pagan lived from May to September 1844 before he assumed the throne at Amarapura in 1846. King Pagan was M indon's half-brother, and he ruled for only seven years. In 1852 the British won the Second Anglo-Burmese War and annexed lower Myanmar, including Yangon and Shwedagon Pagoda.The following year, Mindon deposed King Pagan and took the throne - little did anyone know that he would be the second-last monarch of the Konbaung dynasty (1752-1885).
Already disturbed by the loss of Yangon to foreign invaders, King Mindon was further alarmed when in August 1855 British emissary Sir Arthur Phayre sailed his gunboat up the Myitgne River and into Taungthaman Lake, making unopposed landfall within firing distance of the palace grounds. In late 1856 the king began pondering the relocation of the capital to a more secure site, and this idea was cemented early the following year when he had two dreams. In the first, he was visited by a woman named Mi Tun Aung who urged him to heed the ancient prophecies indicating that a great city would be founded at the foot of Mandalay Hill; in the second, a man named Nga Htin presented grass from Mandalay Hill that, if fed to horses and elephants, would represent the security of the realm.
King Mindon surveyed the site of the future capital on January 28,1857, and the staking ceremony for the palace occurred almost exactly one year later. On July 16,1858, the king and his court moved to the new city, whose formal name was Yadanabon, a shortened form of a longer Pali-language title that translates as the City Filled with Gems.
Mindon became one of the most revered kings in the history of Mandalay, a major sponsor of Theravada Buddhism, as well as a social and economic reformer dedicated to modernisation. But he was also forced to spend his reign resisting the advance of the British into upper Myanmar. His financial reforms included reducing the authority and income of bureaucrats, and removing custom duties and other barriers to trade. He modernised his army and established a mint, a weapon-making forge and textile factories. On May 15, 1859, Mindon inaugurated seven projects, following a tradition among Konbaung kings including King Alaungpaya in Shwebo (ruled 1752-1760) and King Bodawpaya in Amarapura (ruled 1782-1819). The exact projects varied from king to king, but the number was always seven. In M indon's case, these were the palace's brick wall, the moat, Maha Lawka Marazein (Kuthodaw Pagoda), Dhamma Myitzu Thein Ordination Hall, Maha Atula Weyan Royal Monastery (Atumashi), the Pitaka Taik Library and rest houses for visiting monks. Of these seven, only the wall, the moat and Kuthodaw Pagoda remain. Located just northeast of the palace, Kuthodaw features a central stupa that resembles Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan, but the site is more famous for the 729 marble slabs surrounding the stupa that are inscribed with the full Pali-language text of the canonical works of Theravada Buddhism. While the stupa required only three years to build (1859 to 1862), the completion of the marble slabs took seven years, six months and 20 days, ending on May 4, 1868.
The marble came from Sagyin quarry 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Mandalay. Large blocks were floated down the Ayeyarwady River and taken to the palace, where they were cut into 1.5-meter-high slabs. The canonical texts were carved into both sides by 50 craftsmen; the more skilled could finish about 15 lines a day, but most averaged around 10 lines. The completed pieces were each placed on their own white-washed brick shrine with openings on four sides. Arranged within three concentric walls and stretching over 13 acres, with the stupa anchoring the layout in the centre, Kuthodaw is now promoted in tourism literature as "the world's biggest book". Also of historical note, Kuthodaw was the meeting point on June 18, 1866, for conspirators who attempted a coup against King Mindon.The rebellion was led by two of the king's sons, Myinkun and Myinkhondaing, who were both angry that they had not been named successors to the throne.They succeeded in assassinating and beheading the crown prince, who was M indon's brother, but M indon himself escaped harm when the man assigned to kill him instead dropped his weapon and fell to his knees once face-to-face with the king. The would-be assassin then escorted the ruler to the barracks of loyal troops. Myinkun and Myinkhondaing fled south and were granted asylum by the British, who had backed the rebellion because they were alarmed over King Mindon's efforts to modernise the Myanmar army. Another of Mindon's projects - not one of the seven, but important nonetheless - was Kyauktawgyi Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill. In 1852 King Pagan had accused Mindon, then a prince, of rebellion. Mindon fled then-capital Amarapura and hid in the Sagyin marble quarries north of Mandalay. He vowed that if he should defeat his half-brother, he would return to the quarry for a block of marble to carve into a huge Buddha image. Mindon of course succeeded in deposing Pagan, and he dedicated the marble image in May 1865, about six years after he transferred the capital from Amarapura to Mandalay.
The Kyauktawgyi image is about 8 meters (26 feet) high and weighs an estimated 900 tonnes.The block from which it was created was taken from the quarry in August 1864 and floated down the Ayeywarwady River on two flat barges towed by a steamer. The boats were greeted at the jetty in Mandalay by canon salutes, and the marble block was moved into the city along a canal. For the last 7 kilometers, it was pulled overland on a sledge by 10,000 volunteers taking 13 days. Once the block was put into place at the pagoda site, sculptors worked day and night under the close supervision of King Mindon and his chief queen. The consecration ceremony on May 16, 1865, began with a huge procession from the palace that included lancers, horses, elephants, chariots, musicians and dancers. At the climax of the ceremony, the king himself ascended the platform to personally paint the lips, eyebrows and eyes of the Buddha image.
King Mindon died in 1878, and his son Thibaw took over the throne. Thibaw ruled for only seven years before the British took Mandalay in November 1885 and sent him into lifelong exile in India. The formidable palace built by Mindon had been occupied by only two kings for a total of 24 years, and it was later destroyed by British bombs during World War II. Only the walls, the moat and a few of the concrete buildings remained, while all the wooden structures within were reduced to ash. A palace replica was built in the early 1990s based on photographs and historical descriptions, and it provides tourists with a basic sense of the scale and the layout of the original. However, the quality of the construction is shoddy and many sections are not well cared for - some peripheral areas have decayed to such an extent that visitors can easily imagine they are wandering the musty halls of structures that actually date back 150 years.
One timber pavilion did survive the destruction of World War II: a small structure that had once served as Mindon's private apartment. After the king's death, his successor Thibaw - said to have been haunted by the previous king's ghost - moved the building out of the palace grounds and onto a site near Kuthodaw Pagoda, where it was converted into a monastery in 1880. It therefore escaped the firestorms of war. Now called Shwenandaw Kyaung (Golden Palace Monastery), the intricately carved timber pavilion stands as one of the most exquisite remnants of King Mindon's popular reign.

source : Swift asian wings magazine
By Anthony Powell

Shopping

Mandalay is full of variety to do shopping. The new Mandalay Zaycho is the main market place in Mandalay. You can get
almost anything from there. Things to shop are Acheik (Mandalay Silk Longyi), Cotton clothing, Hto Moat (greasy cakes),
Laphet (Pickled tea leaves), Kadipar slippers (Velvet Slippers), Silverware, Lacquerware, Jewelry, gems and more.

Getting Around

Air
There are daily flights from Yangon to Mandalay via Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways, and Myanmar Air.
Mandalay now has an International Airport, so there are also flights from other countries directly landing to Mandalay.

Bus and Express
There are daily local express from Yangon to Mandalay and many other parts of the country.

Taxi
Pickups and vans are available to travel around Mandalay, Amarapura, Inwa, and Sagaing.

Train
Mandalay has a new Yadanarbon Central Railway Station in downtown area. It is a seven-storey complex, including two
floors devoted to a hotel. The old station is on the further south of the new one. There are daily schedules from Yangon
to Mandalay.

Motorbike
Motorbikes can be seen everywhere in Mandalay. Travelling by motorbike can be very convenient in local places. So,
motorbikes can be rented mostly everywhere in Mandalay.

Boat
The Inland Water Transport office is located at the Gawwein Jetty at the western end of 35th Street.

Bicycle

There are several places downtown where you can rent bicycles.

Entertainment

Mandalay is a busy city which is the central trade centre of Myanmar. There are cinema halls, beauty salons, spas and
karaoke lounge in the most populated part of the city. There are also many well-known astrologers and palmist in this
city.

Food

Mandalay is a city with great historical heritage. Many traditional food can be tasted in this city.

General Information

Founded at 1857
Founded by King Mindon
Fell under British Colony at 1885
Mandalay being the second largest capital of the State, in accordance with the times of building a peaceful, modernized
and well developed new future State, emphasis has been given to enhance the role of information media.

Media
The city dwellers can enjoy listening to the radio progammes broadcast by M.B.S and watching the TV channels of MRTV
and the Myawaddy. The newspapers the Light of Myanmar and Kye Mon are published and distributed by the presses of
Mandalay for Upper Myanmar.

City Development
Mandalay City Development Committee has organized Public Relations and Information Department, and has been
increasing the momentum for the progress of the information media. Mandalay Daily is published as the Mandalay-
centred, Upper Myanmar supporting media and representative media of the State. The Mandalay Daily Press is situated
on 29th road between 73rd road and 74th road. Through this press media, the State Policies, and feature articles, as
well as the objectives, performances, activities, information and feature articles about M.C.D.C, are presented to the
public unfailingly and in time. The Mandalay City Development Committee has published the pamphlets, namely,
Mandalay City Profile, Mandalay City Map and Welcome to the Golden Palace City, which will inform the foreign visitors
about interesting facts and functions of Mandalay. It is a press media which will send good news through foreign visitors
to the World. Moreover, Mandalay Directory is published in both Myanmar and English Versions annually, which contain
information about Mandalay City Map, offices, departments, organizations, factories and industries, companies, stores,
markets and hospitals and clinics, businesses, location and phone numbers.

ICT Development
Mandalay ICT Development Corporation Ltd is located at Third Floor, Yadanarbon Zay in Mandalay. Mandalay ICT
Development Corporation, a consortium of (50) local companies with the full support from the Government of the Union
of Myanmar, initiated the Mandalay ICT Park project with the aim of creating an ICT hub for upper Myanmar. It is part
of the ICT master plan of Myanmar to stimulate the development of Myanmar ICT industry by attracting local and
international partners to form a cluster of ICT - Related Business, supported by world-class infrastructure and
technologies.

 

 

 

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