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Mandalay is the second largest city (2000 pop. 801,707) and former royal capital of Myanmar (formerly Burma). An administrative region of Myanmar is also named after it. The city is bordered by the Irrawaddy River and is located at .
Unlike other Burmese towns, Mandalay did not grow from a smaller settlement to town proportions. Mandalay was set up in an empty area at the foot of Mandalay Hill because of a prophecy made by the Buddha that in that exact place a great city, metropolis of Buddhism, would come into existence on occasion of the 2,400th jubilee of Buddhism.
King Mindon decided to fulfill the prophecy and during his reign in the Kingdom of Amarapura he issued a royal order on 13 January, A.D 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 elephant to the new location at Mandalay Hill. With the Ground-breaking ceremony, King Mindon laid the foundation of Mandalay on the 6th waning day of Kason, (A.D 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, the higher ordination hall named the Pahtan-haw Shwe Thein, the Atumashi (the Incomparable) monastery, the Thudhama Zayats or public houses for preaching the Doctrine, and the library for the Buddhist scriptures.
The whole royal city was called Lay Kyun Aung Mye (Victorious Land over the Four Islands) and the royal palace, the Mya Nan San Kyaw (The Royal Emerald Palace). The new kingdom was called the Kingdom of Yadanabon, along with other name Ratanapura, mean "The Bejeweled Site". It was finally renamed to Mandalay which is a derivative of the Pali word "Mandala", which means "a plains land" and also of the Pali word "Mandare", which means "an auspicious land."
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 Burma route went from Rangoon to Chungking via Mandalay, Lashio, Paoshan and Kungming. 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 with the support of local nationalist groups such as the Burma Defense Army 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.
In 1948, with the formation of the Union of Burma , the city became the capital of Mandalay Division
Attractions and Features
Mandalay is the terminus of the main rail line from Yangon and the starting point of branch lines to Lashio and Myitkyina. It is also the major trading and communications center in northern and central Myanmar. Among the leading industries are silk weaving, jade cutting, brewing, distilling, the manufacture of matches, and the working of silver. Mandalay is a cultural and religious center of Buddhism, having many monasteries and more than 700 pagodas. At the bottom 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 inscribed with the entire Buddhist cannon, each housed in it own white stupa.
The buildings inside the Mandalay Fort, a walled square to the north of Mandalay with a moat, were mostly destroyed during World War II including the Palace. There is now a Museum and some concrete reconstructions.
Sources and Links
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