Mandalay City - Not Just the Temples World

07 Jun 2019 by Admin

Located about 700 kilometers north of Yangon, Mandalay City is a transport link between India, China and the south of Myanmar. As the second largest city after Yangon, Mandalay city is a bustling commercial center and a cultural storage of ancient Myanmar. Being considered an art and architecture gallery of Myanmar, Mandalay is famous for its stone and wood carvings, silver and bronze casting, gold leaf making, tapestries, silk, and other traditional crafts.

Start an Exploration in Mandalay City

It is unnecessary to follow pilgrims; you could spend a day exploring the city on your own way. Rent a bike - a common vehicle here to paddle around the city center.

The first place is the Royal Palace in Mandalay City. Located in a square campus of 413 hectares, this palace is famous for its wall system built solidly, skillfully and beautifully.

The wooden palace was built in 1857-1859 when King Mindon moved the capital from Amarapura to Mandalay, basing on astronomical calculations and good omen at the foot of Mandalay Hill. As the home of the last two kings: Mindon and Thibaw, the palace and also the fortress has a system of walls of 2 km long, 8 meters high, 3 meters thick, with 48 petard launching bases. The wall has 12 gates representing 12 zodiac marks. Each side has 3 doors with even distance between doors and corners. Outside the wall, there is a water moat of 64 m wide, 4.5m deep. It is believed that, previously under the water moat there was a system of spikes to trap enemies in case of being attacked.

Although the entire palace inside was burned in bombs during World War 2, the system of walls and outside water moat have still remained until these days. The palace has been completely rebuilt since 1989 in charge of archeology ministry and has become a tourist attraction.

The next place is the traditional stone carving village of Kyauksittan. Located on road 48, next to the western gate of Mahamuni pagoda, the village is covered with the dust of stones and the dust of the rugged path along the village. The village was established right after King Mindon built Mandalay city.

The Specialties of Mandalay City

In addition to stone rings and some interior decors, the main product of this village is Buddha images with varied sizes from 12 cm up to 12m which is provided for the whole country. According to villagers, stones for carving statues are taken from Sakyin Taung Hill, loclated 56 km from the village. However, perhaps the 80-familie village has to remove from the city for causing noise and air pollution.

Spend 1 hour visiting the open-air market in the region. The most interesting thing is that its ambience has no difference from an open-air market in other Southeast Asian nations, except the language. Sellers in the market display their goods on traps placed on movable pots as well as fixed stalls.

Goods are also varied from dry goods to fresh items, from food and drinks to household appliances. Burmese food is quite similar to the food in Vietnam with vegetables, fish, and tropical fruits. Offerings for sale and negotiations tingle around the market.

But the most impressive thing here is that the spirit of Buddhism are everywhere without visiting temples. The images of Buddha and the colorful robes of Buddhists scatter in Mandalay streets. Follow a young group of Sadi (Burmese children ordained into the temple) seeking alms on the streets of Mandalay with a black bowl in front of their chest. They walk barefoot on the street, with a double pace from common pedestrians. They only stop when encountering villagers waiting for them at the doorhouse or on the street, receive in turn spoons of food into the bowl. When the bowl is full, they come back to the monastery in time for lunch and prepare for the afternoon's scriptures.

It is absolutely not an exaggeration to call this place a center of pilgrimage and learning for Buddhists all over the world. Here, monasteries and temples still preserve the original and deepest meaning of Buddhism in Myanmar.

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