Mandalay, was the historical old capital and the center of Myanmar culture in the past. It is situated about 600 kilometers north of Yangon on the Ayeyarwaddy river, has about half a million inhabitants and is Myanmars second largest city. It abounds in historical landmarks, cultural memorials, Buddhist edifices and traditional arts and crafts. It is the richest historical landmark next to Bagan.
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.
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. When King Mindon passed away, his son King Thibaw ascended the throne, and in M.E 1247, Myanmar became a British colony.
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.
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.
Around Mandalay, there are 3 Major Ancient Royal Capital Cities and one Tourist Destination called Mingun very famous for its monuments; Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing
Amarapura is famous for its Longest Wooden Bridge in the world built in the mid of 19th century, Silk Weaving factories that provide the best silk hand-woven longyis, and one of the biggest monasteries called Mahagandayon with over a thousand monks studying Budda’s teachings under the strict rules.
Before the Royal Palace was moved to Amarapura, Ava was the capital and as the whole palace was dismantled the re-assembled at Amarapura, a few unmovable things remain nowadays inside the palace. In Ava, one should not miss Bagaya Teak Wood Monastery where you will see the biggest teak columns from more than 150 years. And one of the few things that is left inside the palace is Palace Tower, it is also called ‘Leaning Tower of Ava’. You can also visit Maha Aung Myay Bon Zan Brick monastery where you will see one of the best masonry works of the Ava Period. To all of these sites, you can make a looping visit on a pony-drawn cart.
When one is tired of layman’ life, he or she take refuge under the shelter of Sagaing Hills, that means he will join one of the meditation centers that sits on the Sagaing Buddhist Silence. Many Buddhist monasteries, nunneries, meditation centers lie along the Sagaing Mountain Range. One can see those monuments from the Mandalay site or bank of the famed Ayeyawaddy River.
Sagaing is famous not only for the outstanding Buddhist Shrines but also Myanmar Traditional Handicrafts such as Silversmith Workshops, Bronze Ware Workshops, Potter’s Shops, Cane Furniture.
Mingun, despite a small village, is full of World’s biggest Things; The Biggest Hanging Bell in the world weighing 90 metric tons, The Biggest Unfinished Temple called Mingun Patho. Besides those big monuments, Mingun has a Home for the Aged, and lovely Bullock-carts providing as Mingun Taxis.