Mandalay is one of the three most prominent tourist cities in Myanmar that tourists cannot miss when visiting this country. When coming to this city, the Royal Palace in Mandalay is a must-see spot, that will help you understand more about the history, culture and imperial palace architectures of the Myanmar people!
1/ General information about the Royal Palace in Mandalay
The Mandalay’s Royal Palace has an official name in Burma called Mya Nan San Kyaw. This name means “The Famed Royal Emerald Palace”. It is known as the last royal palace of the Burmese monarchy.
This Royal Palace in Mandalay is located on a square campus that’s 413 hectares wide, in the middle of Mandalay city (coordinates 21 ° 58′B, 96 ° 04′Đ). This city is the capital of Mandalay region, surrounded by Ayeyarwady river and 716 km north of Yangon city. Mandalay was also the last capital and the Royal Palace here is the last one of the last independent Burmese kingdom before being annexed by the British.
The panoramic view of the Royal Palace in Mandalay
The construction of the royal palace in Mandalay was part of King Mindon’s plan to establish the capital Mandalay in February 1857. A large part of its architecture is modeled after the old palace in Amarapura. In June 1857, the palace began to be built and officially completed on Monday, May 23, 1859.
When Burma became a British colony, the British invaded and ransacked the palace. They burned the royal library, cause serious harm. At the same time, they used this palace as a place to train troops.
During World War II, the Japanese used this palace as a supply store. During this time, it was bombed and seriously destroyed. Only royal mint and watchtower remain intact.
In 1989, the Department of Archeology began planning to reconstruct the palace. And the reconstruction process incorporates both traditional and modern construction techniques. Metal sheets are used to roof most buildings, while concrete is widely used as construction materials (the original palace was built only with teak.
Mandalay Palace is the main royal residence of the last two kings of this country, King Mindo and King Thibaw. So all the parts are built magnificently. You can see that all the details in the palace are very solid and imbued with royal imprints. They possess their own architectural beauty that cannot be found anywhere else.
The palace is surrounded by four solid walls. Since the Second World War, bombs have destroyed the interior of the palace, but the wall still stands and remains until now. They form a perfect square and envelop a total of 48 fortresses. The walls are 6.86 m (22.5 ft) tall when excluding merlons and 8.23 m (27 ft) with the merlons. They are built with ordinary Burmese bricks. Bracelets are 0.84 m wide (2 ft 9 in). To provide access to the battlements in the event of a warning and to reinforce the wall, a soil rampart on a moderately inclined plane has been thrown behind it. Its crest forms a 1.83 m (2 ft) wide platform, paved and runs along the walls behind the creek.
On each side of the walls, there are 3 gates, each separated by 508m (1666.5 ft). Each gate is equipped with a two-leaf thick wooden door. In total on the four sides, the palace has 12 gates. Each one is denoted by its own zodiac sign. 12 Doors represent 12 zodiac signs. Among these twelve gates, the main gate is the central gate on the east wall, opposite the Lion Throne and the Audience Hall of the Royal Palace in Mandalay.
There is a barrier erected a few meters away from the moat at the entrance to protect the gate. It is 17.5 m (57 ft 5 in) long, 1.5 m (1 ft 8 in) tall, and 5.2 m (17 ft) thick. It serves as an advanced defense project that protects both the gate and the bridge that’s a few feet away. Next to this screen, there is a giant teak pillar that lies on a block of bricks placed on either side. There was a piece of wood on which an inscription was written, the name of the gate, and the date it was built. In each wall, there are 13 forts and total 48 forts in the Royal Palace in Mandalay. (Fortresses in each corner are merged into one, so it has a total of 48.) It is said that the palace also has functioned as a fortress since there are 48 artillery launchers outside the walls.
Outside the walls, there is a moat of 64 m wide, 4.5 m deep surrounded. When dealing with enemies that are armed with ancient weapons, this moat will certainly cause a formidable obstacle to the opposing army. It is believed that under the water moat previously, there was a system of spikes to trap enemies in case of being attacked
The Moat surrounds the Royal Palace in Mandalay
3/ The unique architecture on the palace grounds
With its exquisite and unique architecture, the Royal Palace in Mandalay has been preserved for many years, in order to retain the architectural essence of mankind. Visiting this Myanmar heritage, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the old Royal culture through the following architectural masterpieces:
***The Clock Tower
When you step through the east gate into the Palace, you’ll easily see the Clock Tower. It is a simple building that consists of a tall square. The local people are familiar with the sound of gongs and drums from the clock here. Every 3 hours; 4 watches alternately make sounds.
***The Relic Tower
From the Clock Tower, visitors go to the South, you can find the Relic Tower. This tower was built according to traditional Burmese architecture. It has 3 parts: a low basement, a rectangular block above the first part, and finally, there is a relic room. There is a neatly carved small staircase that joins the three parts together. The walls and roof of the relic room are also decorated with charming plaster carvings.
This tower is 24 m (78 ft) tall, topped by a seven tiered pyatthat. From the top of the tower, you can enjoy the panoramic view of Mandalay city. According to legend, the king built this tower to admire the beautiful view of the city below. In addition, this tower was very helpful in observing the enemy whenever they attacked the capital. It is also a rare relic that’s still kept intact after the bombing of World War II.
***The Royal mausoleums
Walking around the ground of Royal Palace in Mandalay, you can see a cluster of mausoleums. This is a place to remember the members of the Royal Family. Among them, the tomb of King Mindon, who died in 1878, is the most prominent one. It is a large brick tower and glass mosaic, built by King Thibaw to tribute his father. In addition, there are some other intact tombs, such as the mausoleum of Mindon’s wife’s – the chief queen; Thibaw’s mother; Queen Supayalat’s mother, Queen Laungshe, Queen Hsinbyumashin.
From the Royal mausoleums area, visitors only need to walk a few hundred meters to the northeast, you will see to the Royal Mint. It was the place where the first Burmese coin was cast in 1865. During the British colonial period, this work was used for military service for some years. The Royal Mint was also one of two buildings in the palace that remained intact after the allied bombings during World War II.
***The Great Audience Hall
In the past, this hall of Royal Palace in Mandalay was a meeting place between the king and the courtiers. So this is a precious historical witness of Myanmar. From north to south, it is 77.1 meters (253 feet) long. It is carved and gilded all onto wooden parts of the roof. Here, some old European cannons, some shells, and guns were also displayed.
The Great Audience Hall looks from the outside
***Lion Throne Room
In the palace, there are a total of eight thrones in the Palace. However, the Lion throne is the greatest thing that tourists should admire to feel its power. It was sculpted and perfected. And only the king has the right to sit on it. If anyone else dares to sit up, it is considered treason. In addition, 7 other thrones in the palace are Elephant Throne in Byedaik, Hintha Throne, Deer Throne, Thinga Throne, Lily Throne, Peacock Throne.
***Hmannandawgyi – The Glass Palace
This is the main residence of King Mindon. It’s also considered the largest and one of the most beautiful apartments of the Royal Palace in Mandalay. This palace is divided into 2 small rooms by a wooden partition. The east room is Bhamarasana – Bee Throne. This is where the king and queen celebrate Burmese new year. In 1878, when King Mindon died, his body was also laid out in this room. The western room is Mindon’s main living one. It is divided into many small rooms. Only the king and four main queens are allowed to sleep here.
Visiting this historic site, visitors will feel the ancient but magnificent beauty of the Royal Palace in Mandalay, which has witnessed many historical events of Myanmar. Therefore, this is considered one of the most attractive destinations in Mandalay as well as Myanmar country!