Mandalay, established in 1857, is the second largest city and the last royal capital in Myanmar It lies on the east bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River and in the upper part of Myanmar. It is the centre economic hub for continuous trade activities between Myanmar’s strategic neighbors China, and India, and still remains Upper Myanmar’s main commercial, educational and health center. Mandalay has the Royal Palace of the last Konbaung Dynasty. Mandalay inherits many cultural heritage from the ancient Myanmar Kingdoms and have many beautiful places to visit.
The Maha Myat Muni Pagoda is a Buddhist temple and major pilgrimage site, located at the Southwest of Mandalay, where inside lies the Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image. The Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image (literal meaning: The Great Sage) is the most ancient and revered Buddha image in Mandalay.
According to legend, the Gautama Buddha visited Dhanyawadi, the capital city of Arakan during his travels on a Proselytization mission to spread Buddhism. King Sanda Thuriya of Rakhine-Dharyawaddy, requested that an image of Lord Buddha to be casted. Therefore, Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image was being cast in front of the Buddha himself, in the seated posture of relaxed deportment, namely Bumi Phasa Mudras, symbolic of His Conquest of Mara After casting the Great Image, the Buddha breathed upon it, and thereafter the image became the exact likeness of the Mahamuni. The 4m high-seated image is cast in bronze and weighs 6.5 tons, which its crown is decorated with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. In B.C 123, King Sanda Thuriya, carry the Image reverently so as to enshrine it at the present site. It took four months to carry the image reverently across the Rakhine Yoma Ranges, by inland route and by waterway a tough and rough journey indeed.
King Mindôn, in removing his capital from Amarapura to Mandalay, built the Royal Mandalay Palace, also called the Mya Nan San Kyaw, in 1857, in the heart of Mandalay city, at the location site chosen with the auspicious omen and astronomical calculations, to bring great prosperity and wealth to the people, glory to the monarch, and new vigour and splendour to the Buddha's religion. It is the only and last palace built by Burmese royals in Mandalay.
The magnificent palace was built of teak wood on raised brick plinth gilded with gold and vermilion. The queens' chambers in order of priority is 1 Southern, 2 Northern and 3 Lesser queens in the West. All ancillary buildings for the court, the fortified high walls with ramparts, the moat, water systems, roads, gardens with shady tamarind trees, recreational playgrounds, swimming pools, mint, security ports with infantry, cavalry, archers, artillery, sheds for royal elephants, stables, audience halls, throne halls, religious edifices and monastery and devotional halls were superbly planned and executed to minute details. The implementation and completion of construction took five years (from 1857 to 61). The artistic workmanship and handicrafts depicting the glory of the golden age of the days gone by is still amazing, awe inspiring and the beholder will be spell bound with wonder.
In 1874, King Mindon had the Sandamuni pagoda built as a memorial, near the graves of his younger half-brother, the Crown Prince Kanaung and the other members of the royal family who lost their lives during the 1866 palace revolution. It was named Sandamuni Pagoda, because it contains the largest iron Buddha, the known as "Sandamani",” and is located at the southeast of Mandalay Hill. It was cast by King Bodawpaya before the founding of the city Mandalay, and was reverently moved frequently, because of wars and the shift of capitals in the nineteenth century, from the Royal City of Amarapura to nearby places before the Sandamani Budda image in the Bhumisparsha mudra of “Calling the earth to witness” was finally enshrined in a worship hall on the Royal Palace Ground of the Nan Mye Bon Tha, King Mindon's temporary royal residence. Surrounding the central pagoda are 1774 shrines, each housing a single marble slab. The slabs are inscribed with the teachings of the Buddha, consisting of Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka (the three baskets that make up the Tripitaka), as well as commentaries and sub commentaries.
Shwenandaw Monastery which means ‘Golden Palace Monastery’ built by King Mindon in the mid-nineteenth century was originally part of the royal palace at Amarapura, before it was moved to Mandalay, where it formed the northern section of the Hmannan (Glass Palace) and part of the king's royal apartments. This monastery is famous for its beautiful wood-carvings, heavily gilt with gold and adorned with glass mosaic work. This wooden monastery is carved all over with motifs and mythical creatures. Inside the monastery, there are 10 jataka scenes taken from the Buddha's life. After King Mindon’s death in 1878, his son King Thibaw Min removed the building, believing it to be haunted by his father's spirit and reassembled in the traditional Burmese architectural style, on its present site in 1880 as a monastery to dedicate as a work of merit to the memory of King Mindon, on a plot adjoining the Atumashi Monastery near the northeast corner of the Royal City.