Mandalay was the last Royal Capital of Myanmar and is found nearly 700 kilometers north of Yangon between the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River and the Shan plateau. Mandalay is considered the center of Burmese culture, a city of artisans and a trading center of goods in all directions.

The geometric laid out streets, a lot of bicycle riders, the eight-kilometer long moth and wall around the former Royal Palace, the pagodas and monasteries abound and also the sacred Mandalay Hill towering over it all, are a number of its most visible highlights. In the vicinity of Mandalay are the former royal capitals and religious centers of Amarapura, Mingun, Inwa (Ava) and Sagaing, which are all worth visiting. Mandalay is another entrance to Myanmar and has direct air links with Bangkok, Singapore, Kunming, and Chiang Mai.

Buddhist stupas at Kuthodaw Pagoda located at the foot of Mandalay Hill
Photo by Camille San Vicente / Unsplash

Mandalay had been the royal capital for only twenty-five years once the British invaded upper Myanmar in 1885 and exiled King Thibaw and his queen Supyalat to India. Except for thousands of years, it had already been thought of as a sacred place for the Buddhist faith. It was King Mindon who moved the capital from neighboring Amarapura and constructed the Royal Palace because of the center of the new city, forming an ideal square. Surrounded by a moth, it had twelve gates – three on a single side, marked with the signs of the zodiac.

It was constructed entirely of teak. Nowadays solely the outer walls and the moth stay of the ancient structures, the ancient palace itself burned down in 1945 once used as a military compound by Japanese occupation forces during war II it was shelled by British troops. The buildings we can see now are splendid replicas of the old palace.

mandalay, myanmar
Photo by Phannipa kattiyawong / Unsplash

Today, Mandalay is a bustling industrial city among all the golden temples and pagodas; with its location in the middle of the country, it acts as an intersection for goods coming from the rural areas and from as far away as China, Thailand, and India.