Portrait of Mandalay

The capital of Myanmar last Kingdom and Myanmar Kings, is situated in central part of Myanmar 668 km north of Yangon. It was founded by King Mindon in 1857 and remained to be the official seat of Myanmar Kings until it was occupied by the British in 1885 and designated Yangon as capital. It is the largest city after Yangon and is both a bustling commercial center and a repository of rich cultural heritage. With the remains of the old Royal City and many old monasteries, Mandalay is a showcase for Myanmar art and architecture of the 19th century.

It is also noted for woodcarvings, silverware, tapestries, silk and other products of traditional handicrafts. It has links to all parts of the country by railway, road, river and air. The fortified city is in the form of a square, each side of which is ten furlongs in length, a battlemented wall of brick and mud mortar has total heath of 25 feet and is backed by an earthen rampart. There are 12 gates, three on each side, at equal distances from each other. Pyatthats or pavilions of wood surmount them, total 48 in numbers. The moat surrounding the city is approximately 225 feet wide and 11 feet deep. Four bridges spanning the moat lead to the main gates. The palace thus occupied the central spot in the city.

The palace, with magnificent woodcarving embellishing it, was destroyed by fire during World War II. However, the Lion Throne survived the war and is now exhibited at the national museum in Yangon. Today, Myat-Nan-San-Kyaw Golden Palace in Mandalay has been reconstructed; a monument of historical value, the glory of Myanmar people – embellished and renovated – is a testimony to the ancient culture. 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.

Shwenandaw Monastery or Golden Palace Monastery

This beautifully built monastery is famous for its masterpiece of traditional Burmese wood-carving technique with floral motifs and celestial beings curved all over the walls. King Mindon and his chief queen used it as an apartment. After his death, it was set up as a monastery. It was once completely covered in thick gold, but only the interior gold remains due to harshness of the tropical weather. Some of the outer carvings have been pissed off and removed being damaged by the weather.

Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image

According to the legend, the King of the Arakan Kingdom insisted Buddha that he leaves an image for people to worship namely Bumi Phasa Mudras, symbolic of His Conquest of Mara and for this reason, Buddha sat under a Bodhi tree for a week of meditation. During that time, Sakka moulded a lifelike image of the Buddha using ornaments donated by the king and his people. Buddha was pleased and imbued the image with his spiritual essence and stated that the image would last for five thousand years as his representative. King Bodawpaya built this pagoda in 1784 to house the Mahamuni Buddha Image brought from Rakhine State. Being the most revered pagoda in Mandalay, the early morning ritual of washing the face of the Buddha’s image draws a daily crowd of devotees.

Kuthodaw Pagoda

Kuthodaw, literally meaning Royal Merit, is formally titled Mahalawka Marazein and is located at the foot of Mandalay Hill founded by King Mindon. He built this pagoda in 1857 and opened public on 1868, surrounding it with 729 marble slabs inscribed with the Tipitaka text (the entire Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism). It is often called the “World’s Biggest Book.” It has 730 leaves or 1460 pages each measuring three and a half feet wide, five feet long and five inches thick. Each leaf is put upright on a stand of its own and all these stands occupy a square compound of thirteen acres.


Mandalay Hill

Mandalay Hill is famous for its wealth 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.


Mandalay Palace

It is the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy. The palace walls, the four gates and the moat still stand today as the evidence of the majestic Palace City. The whole palace complex was destroyed by fire during the War. A number of palace buildings have been reconstructed within the premises such as Mya Nan San Kyaw Shwenandaw, the replica of the Mandalay Palace, Nanmyint Saung, Cultural Museum.


Atumashi Monastery

In its formal name Maha Atulawaiyan Kyaungdawgyi meaning the incomparable monastery had been adorned with carved figurines and floral designs.


Kyauktawgyi Pagoda

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda means the Pagoda of the Great Marble Image which was built by King Mindon in 1865 or 1857.The pagoda stands at the foot of Mandalay Hill and it is so called because it houses a large image of the Buddha sculpted from a single block of beautiful Sagyin marble.



It lies to the southwest of Mandalay, it was founded by King Bodawpaya in 1785 A.D. one year his ascension to the throne. After 40 years King Bodawpaya shifted the capital of AVA. King Thayarwaddy restored the old capital in 1838 for 59 years as capital. King Mindon established a new capital at the foot of Mandalay Hill. Amarapura was a square city with a moat surrounding the brick walls. There were 12 gates, three on each side. The Palace building was dismantled and taken to Mandalay with no royal structures.



Mingun is a very interesting historically and archaeologically, located at about 11 km upriver from Mandalay, on the west bank of the Ayeyawaddy River, Mingun has a gigantic unfinished pagoda, 50 meters high, overlooking the river, and the 90-ton Mingun Bell, the largest ringing bell in the world cast in 1170 by King Bodawpaya. A 45-minute boat trip to Mingun is a very pleasant trip with plenty of life on the river to see. One very interesting place to visit is Pahtodawgyi pagoda, the world’s largest unfinished pagoda built in 1820 by King Bodawpaya. Visitors can enjoy a fine view over the surrounding countryside from the upper terrace. An inscription stone, within the temple precincts, details the history of the pagoda’s construction.


U Bein Bridge

U Bein Bridge is named after the clerk of the Mayor of Amarapura. It is the longest teak bridge in the world (1.2km) across Taungthaman Lake built in 1849 with teak planks from Innwa Palace is situated in the ancient city of Amarapura, Mandalay region which is about two centuries old.



The historial capital was founded by King Thado Minbya in 1364. Inwa Bridge which was opened in 1934 crosses the Chindwin River and it was put out of action by the British in 1942 when they demolished the two spans among the sixteen spans in order to deny the bridge to the advancing Japanese. Not until 1954 was the bridge repaired and put back into operation. There is a toll to take cars across the bridge, which also carries the rail line. Inwa Bridge used to be the longest bridge in Myanmar until the emergence of Thanlyin Bridge in 1993.


Me Nu Oak-kyuang (Brick Monastery)

Oak Kyaung is also known as Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan built by Nanmadaw Me Nu, Chief Queen of King Bagyidaw in 1818. It was damaged by the earthquake in 1838 but was repaired by Queen Sin Phyu Ma Shin. The visitors can study the great deal of Myanmar traditional architecture in this graceful and beautifully stucco-decorated building.


Sagaing which is just 12 miles from Mandalay lies on the right bank of the Ayeyarwady River by crossing the long Sagaing Bridge over the Ayeyarwady. It was founded by King Ahtinkhaya Saw Yun, son of Sihagu in 1315 AD, after the fall of Bagan. Sagaing and Pinya were the contemporary cities where 7 minor Kings ruled Sagaing for 51 years. Thado Minbya of Tagaung conquered Sagaing and Pinya. The capital was moved to Inwa by King Hsinbyi Shin, bringing an end to the capital of Sagaing. It has a great number of stupas in the area of Sagaing and on the ranges of Minwun. Visitors can pay homage to many pagodas and you may feel refreshed because of the scenic board of Sagaing Hill. The Sagaing Hill is famous for its religious edifice among Myanmar people that they cannot be separated from each other. Its long mountain ranges are enshrined with pagodas on their top and keep over 400 monasteries built on these mountains are the abode for monks, nuns and for those practicing meditation.

Pyin Oo Lwin

Formerly called Maymyo lies 67 km (42 miles) east of Mandalay and is situated on a scenic hill town in the Shan Highland. It is named after Colonel May, a veteran of the Indian Mutiny and commander of the Bengal Regiment temporarily stationed at the location of the town in 1887. Maymyo was originally founded by Myanmar official Maung Dwe in 1851 and later named as May Myo by British Colonel May in 1896. Located at 1040 meters above sea level, Maymyo is famous for its climate weather and it used to be a popular hill station during colonial days. The area is dotted with pine trees, eucalyptus and silver oak. Coffee, vegetables and strawberries are grown on the slopes of the hills. Maymyo impresses with its many churches, colonial styled buildings with gables, turrets and chimneys etc. Horse-drawn royal carriages still play major role in transport means. Maymyo maintains a botanical garden of 432 acres, laid out by Sir Harcourt Butler, former Governor of Burma. Maymyo is reachable by car with just one and a half hour from Mandalay, can also be reached by train over a scenic, narrow winding road climbing up the slops of the fertile Shan plateau. The British built railroad is still being used today. The scenic Pwe-kauk waterfalls, Chinese temple in addition to British built colonial buildings are places worth visiting. Nearby attractions are Peik-chin-hmyaung Cave and Gokteik Rail bridge which is the highest bridge in Myanmar and the largest railway trestle in the world.



Monywa is about 136 km to the west of Mandalay and the commercial center of the Chindwin Valley or northwestern Myanmar. Places of interest include Thanbokde Pagoda, with over 500,000 Buddha images; Bodhi-ta-taung (one thousand Bo trees), Ledi Kyaungtaik, a teaching monastery where Buddhist scriptures are inscribed on 806 stone slabs, and Kyaukka Village, known for its own distinctive style of lacquerware. Pho Win Taung is a relief figure in stone dating back to 13th century and it takes about 5 hours travelling to & from Pho Win Taung & Shweba Taung.