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Mandalay Palace


Mandalay Palace Mandalay, Myanmar


  • The Mandalay Palace is situated in Mandalay, Myanmar. It’s the last royal palace of the last empire of Myanmar. The palace was built as part of establishing of the innovative royal capital city of Mandalay by King Mindon. The design of Mandalay Palace mostly follows the conventional Myanmar palace design, within a walled castle encircled by a trench. The palace is at the middle of the fort and faces east. Within the palace, all buildings are one storey high. The quantity of spires over a building showed the significance of the area beneath.
  • Mandalay Palace was the main royal abode of the last 2 kings of the country, King Mindon as well as King Thibaw. On 28 November 1885 when troops of the Burma Field Force went into the palace and arrested the royal family, the compound ceased to be a royal abode and seat of government. The British changed the palace complex into Fort Dufferin, named after the viceroy of India at that time. People of Myanmar saw the palace as the primary symbol of identity and sovereignty all through the British colonial period. During World War II, a great deal of the palace complex was damaged by allied bombarding; only the watch tower and the royal mint survived. A duplication of the palace was reconstructed in the 1990s.
  • These days, Mandalay Palace is a main sign of Mandalay and a key tourist destination.



Mandalay Palace Mandalay Myanmar


History

  • Construction of the Mandalay Palace was as a part of founding of Mandalay in 1857 by King Mindon. The master plan required a 144 square block web typed town, fixed by a 16 square block majestic palace complex at the middle of Mandalay Hill., a moat 64 metre wide and 4.5 metre deep and 2 kilo metre long walls surrounded the 413 hectare royal palace compound. There were citadels along the wall at intervals of 169 metres with gold-tipped spires. The walls had 12 gates, 3 on each side, each showing a zodiac symbol. In order to cross the moat, the fort had 5 bridges.
  • The construction of the palace started in 1857 because the Burmese kingdom had not enough resources to construct a new pretentious palace after the devastating Second Anglo-Burmese War of 1852. The previous regal palace of Amarapura was demolished and shifted to the new place at the bottom of Mandalay Hill by elephants. Officially the building of the palace complex was finished on 23 May 1859.
  • The British plundered the palace and burnt the royal library. A few of the works of art that were taken away by British can be seen even today in the Albert and Victoria Museum in London. The British changed name of the palace complex to Fort Dufferin and used it to accommodate soldiers. The Japanese turned the palace citadel into a supply depot during World War II which was burnt by Allied bombing. Only the watch tower and the royal mint survived.
  • The Department of Archaeology started reconstruction of the palace in 1989. The Mandalay Committee for reconstruction of the palace was established since government funds were not sufficient. Funds came from the State Law and Order Restoration Council.
  • Although the general design was correct, the construction procedure merged both modern as well as traditional building methods. For the roofs of most buildings corrugated sheet metal was used, whereas concrete was widely used as a building material. Only teak was used to build the original palace.
  • During the reign of King Thibaw, one of the halls was demolished and reconstructed as Shwenandaw Monastery. It’s the only remaining main structure of the original wooden palace.



Mandalay Palace Fortifications Mandalay Myanmar


Citadel

The wall

  • The palace citadel's 4 two kilo metres long walls make an ideal square, complete with 48 citadels having gold tipped spires at fixed intervals of 169 metres and encircled by a moat 4.5 metres deep and 64 metres wide. The walls are1.47 metres at the top and 3 metres thick at the base, 6.86 metres high, excluding the merlons and 8.23 metres with the merlons. The portholes are 0.84 metres wide.

Gates

  • On each surface of the walls there are 3 doorways at equal distances of 508 metres from the corners and one from the other. Each of the 4.8 metres wide 12 gates, symbolized by its own zodiac symbol and on both sides flanked by one-half of a citadel. Out of these 12 gates, the main gate was the central gate.
  • The citadel projects 7 metres from the surface of the wall and it is 10.36 metres wide on each side of the doorway. It’s decorated with simple plaster carvings and simple mouldings on the outside, but on the internal surface it rises suddenly from the ground level without any mouldings or plinth.



Mandalay Palace Mandalay Myanmar


Masonry screens

  • The entry to each gateway is safeguarded by a barbican or masonry screen built a few metres away from the moat. It’s 1.5 metres high, 5.2 metres thick and17.5 metres long. Access to the top is possible only through ladders.
  • Each of the 4 walls has 13 bastions. At each corner bastions are combined into one.

The moat

  • There is a 64 metres wide moat surrounding the walls with an average depth of 4.5 metres at a distance of approximately 18 metres. In the case of attacking enemies this moat would undoubtedly have presented a challenging hurdle to the surrounding army, whose skills would have been vulnerable to the armaments of the soldiers safeguarded by the merlons on the barbicans and on the ramparts.
  • Originally the moat was spanned over by 5 wooden bridges, 4 of which led to the 4 middle or principal gates. The 5th led to the south-western gate. Two more bridges were built by the British one at the north-west and the other at the south-west corner, to allow delivery of supplies and materials into the fort for the soldiers.
  • The 5 original bridges are similar in design. Two earthen defenses enclosed inside brick walls make the supports running into the moat.