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Mandalay

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Now more than 150 years old this city was the seat of the last King of Imperial Myanmar. Previously most Myanmar kings had made other ancient cities their royal capitals but King Mindon decided in 1859 to build and move his capital to this piece of land under the shadow of the Mandalay Hill. And since that time Mandalay has been regarded as the home of Myanmar culture and traditions. Legends say that King Mindon believed that he dreamt of a prophesy when Lord Buddha came to Mandalay Hill in his life time and ordained that in the plains below the Hill, a great city would rise with a powerful king who would propagate Buddhism in the land. And to fulfil this prophesy King Mindon moved his capital from Amarapura to Mandalay. Sited between the hazy blue Shan Hills in the east and the meandering Ayeyarwady River to the west Mandalay is full of grace and beauty. The main attraction would of course be the old Palace Grounds and the moat. The Palace was converted into a military fort and named Fort Dufferin by the conquering British Army when they annexed the whole country in 1885 and stationed troops inside. The buildings inside were also used as offices of the British military Hqrs. Even now the Myanmar Army's Central Command is housed there. The original buildings inside the Palace walls were of teak and gilded in gold but burnt down when the British bombed out the Japanese troops inside but currently some structures, like the main audience hall are now renovated, as well as the tiered gates on the palace walls. As Mandalay is considered the centre of Myanmar culture, there are many places of interest where customs are preserved and handicraft workshops still use age old manufacturing processes to cast brass items or wafer then gold leaves and sequined tapestries.

 

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