About Mandalay from Answers.com




Location on map of Myanmar


Burmese: မန္တလေးမ္ရုိ့
IPA [mànda̰lé mjoṵ]
MLCTS manta le: mrui.
Admin. division: Mandalay Division
Area: 113 km²
Population: 927,000 (2005)
Coordinates: 21°58′N, 96°04′E
Mayor: Brigadier General Phone Zaw Han
Ethnicities: Bamar, Burmese Chinese, Kayin, Shan
Religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam

Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar (formerly Burma) with a population of 927,000 (2005 census), agglomeration 2.5 million. It is the last royal capital of Myanmar and capital of the current Mandalay Division. The city is bounded by the Ayeyarwady River to the west and is located at 21°58′N 96°04′E, 716 km north of Yangon. Mandalay lies at the centre of Myanmar’s dry zone.


The wall and moat of the Mandalay Fort at the city centre.


The wall and moat of the Mandalay Fort at the city centre.

Mandalay Hill, at 240 m, is home to many of Mandalay's religious sites.


Mandalay Hill, at 240 m, is home to many of Mandalay’s religious sites.

Some of the 729 stupas known as the world's largest book at Kuthodaw Temple


Some of the 729 stupas known as the world’s largest book at Kuthodaw Temple

Founded on 23 May 1859 by King Mindon Min[1], Mandalay was the last capital (18601885) of the last independent Burmese Kingdom before annexation by the British after the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885.

Unlike other Burmese towns, Mandalay did not grow from a smaller settlement to town proportions although there did exist a village by the name of Hti Baunga nearby. Mandalay was set up in an empty area at the foot of 236 meter Mandalay Hill according to a prophecy made by the Buddha that in that exact place a great city, a metropolis of Buddhism, would come into existence on the occasion of the 2,400th jubilee of Buddhism.

King Mindon decided to fulfil the prophecy and during his reign in the Kingdom of Amarapura he issued a royal order on January 13, 1857 to establish a new kingdom. The Ceremony of Ascending the Throne was celebrated in July 1858 and the former royal city of Amarapura was dismantled and moved by elephants to the new location at the foot of Mandalay Hill. With the Ground-breaking ceremony, King Mindon laid the foundation of Mandalay on the 6th waning day of Kason, Burmese Era 1219 (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 (Kuthodaw Pagoda), the higher ordination hall named the Pahtan-haw Shwe Thein, the Atumashi (Incomparable) monastery, the Thudhama Zayats or public houses for preaching the Doctrine, and the library for the Buddhist scriptures.

The Thudhamma Zayats were built during the reign of King Mindon.


The Thudhamma Zayats were built during the reign of King Mindon.

The whole royal city was called Lei Kyun Aung Myei (၄က္ယ္ဝန္းအော္‌မ္ရေ; Victorious Land over the Four Islands) and the royal palace, Mya Nan San Kyaw (မ္ရနန္‌းစံက္ယော္‌; The Famed Royal Emerald Palace). The new royal capital was called Yadanabon Naypyidaw, the Burmese version of its Pali name Ratanapura which means “The City of Gems”. It then became Mandalay after the hill; the name is a derivative of the Pali word “Mandala”, which means “a plains land” – Mandalay is said to be as flat as the face of a drum – and also of the Pali word “Mandare”, which means “an auspicious land.”

Mandalay would be captured just 29 years later and the palace would become the British headquarters, known as Fort Dufferin, of Upper Burma.[2]

During World War II, the Japanese, seeking to cut China‘s supply line, occupied Indochina. However, a new supply line via Burma had already been opened in January 1939. This came to be known as the Burma Road and started from Rangoon to Chongqing via Mandalay, Lashio, Baoshan and Kunming.[3] Tens of thousands of tons of war materiel reached the Chinese nationalists by this route, creating difficulties for the Japanese army, which became desperate to cut this supply line. Thus, Japan sought the support of local nationalist groups and helped found the Burma Independence Army (BIA) led by the Thirty Comrades under their command, invaded Burma and captured Mandalay on May 2 1942. The fort which contained the palace was turned into a Japanese supply depot and was heavily bombed by the British prior to their liberation of the city in March 1945 as part of an overland operation to recapture the capital and port of Rangoon. The palace burnt down to the ground and only the masonry plinth of the palace complex with a couple of masonry structures such as the royal mint and the hourdrum tower remained until a faithful replica was built by Ne Win in the 1980s.

In 1948 independence from Britain was declared, and with the formation of the Union of Burma, the city became the capital of Mandalay Division.

Transportation and economy

Mandalay is the terminus of the main rail line from Yangon and the starting point of branch lines to Pyin Oo Lwin Lashio and Myitkyina farther north. A new international airport, Mandalay International Airport, was completed in 1999, with Chinese aid. The Ayeyarwaddy of the “Road to Mandalay” fame remains an important arterial route for goods such as farm produce including rice and cooking oil, pottery, bamboo and teak. Mandalay is also the major trading and communications centre for northern and central Myanmar. Among the leading industries are silk weaving, tapestry, jade cutting and polishing, stone and wood carving, making marble and bronze Buddha images, temple ornaments and paraphernalia, the working of gold leaves and of silver, the manufacture of matches, brewing and distilling.


Buddha relics from Kanishka's stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan, now in Mandalay. Teresa Merrigan, 2005


Buddha relics from Kanishka’s stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan, now in Mandalay. Teresa Merrigan, 2005

Mandalay is Burma’s cultural and religious centre of Buddhism, having numerous monasteries and more than 700 pagodas. At the foot of Mandalay Hill sits the world’s official “Buddhist Bible”, also known as the world’s largest book, in Kuthodaw Pagoda. There are 729 slabs of stone inscribed with the entire Buddhist canon, each housed in its own white stupa.


~ by bestmandalay on April 2, 2007.

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