Palace Complex / Fort, Mandalay
I really wanted to visit this huge complex in the centre of Mandalay because I had just finished reading a book called The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. The book begins with British soldiers storming, looting and burning this palace, forcing the Burmese King and Queen into exile in India.
The palace was built between 1857 and 1859 by King Mindon. It is located on an island surrounded by a moat. There are 5 bridges to it. Nowadays much of this area is private and tourists can only go to the palace.
The palace was first home to King Mindon, then later King Thibaw, the last two kings of Burma. The palace stopped being a royal residence and seat of government on 28 November 1885 when British troops entered it and captured the royal family. The British sent the royals into exile and turned the palace into Fort Dufferin.
The palace was bombed heavily in World War 11.
The complex was rebuilt in the 1990s and I must say does look disappointingly new.
This is a huge area surounded by a huge moat.
The palace itself was completly destroyed during WW 2, and rebuilt in the 1990's
The rooms here are bare unfortunatly, with only a few rooms with something in them.
Worth a visit though to see the size and grandure of the palace.
NB This is a military area, you can only go down the road to the palace, no veering off to sight see, NO PHOTO's except in the actual palace itself.
The palace is surrounded by this impressive moat (260 ft-wide), a canal supplies water to it. There are five original bridges around, after crossing the bridge of the main entrance you will find that the surroundings of the fort are still occupated by the army, there are two checking points before getting to the main entrance.
Was the first palace to be built in the city and was constructed in 1861 by king Mindom after he moved the city from Anarapura. The palace was built in teak wood decorated with gold ornamentations. The palace and the buildings of the complex were completely destroyed by bombs and fire in the WWII. The site were rebuilt and the visit gives you a glimpse of how magnificent it was. The palace it´s surrounded by huge fort walls (2 miles long) and a moat (230 ft.wide). It´s said that the complex was built by by forced local labour in 1990, thats why so many visitors decided not to come as i readed in some blogs. I visited it because my guide assured that is not completely true , workers earned a salary and opened a new tourist attraction to the city. True or false it´s your own desition. An interesting experience
Although the old palace is not an impressive set of buildings per se, the size of the impressive once fortified complex makes up for this. Massive 8m high and 1.5 to 3m thick walls extend for 2kms on each side. Surrounding the wall is a large moat, which is fed by a channel.
The original palace was built by order of King Mindon Min in 1857, and was basically a city between the walls, inside Mandalay. It was later named Fort Dufferin by the British, and housed the colonial government, a mere 30 years later.
The original wooden palace was burned down in 1945 during fighting between the Brits and Indians and the Japanese forces, which occupied Mandalay from 1942. What we see now is a rebuilt version of the palace, and has actually never housed royalty. With an eye to the past, the rebuilt version is concrete and aluminium, to ensure longevity of the new structures. The walls and moat are part of the original complex.
Mandalay Museum is housed within the walls of the palace. There is a collection of glass boxed royal regalia, dating from the reigns of the last two kings.
Its certainly worth a visit out of historical interest, but there are very few genuine relics to be seen. Some of the original rebuild was by forced labour, using both local residents and prisoners. This was discontinued due to international objection.
It might seem odd posting a tip about this, as I didn't actually go inside the place. there are a number of resaons for this, for which see my seperate tip about the "combo" ticket. However, you can't really visit Mandalay and not be aware of the place, it is simply vast. You will go past it if you are visiting Mandalay Hill or any of the nearby sites.
Each side of the square that comprises the complex is an amazing 3.2 km long with a moat running all round that is 70 metres wide. To give you an idea of how wide the moat is, an Olympic size swimming pool is only 50 metres long. I supose you could walk round the perimeter if you wanted, but it really would be a bit of a hike! If, like me, you decide that the "combo" ticket isn't your thing, it's still a pleasant walk to go along one or more sides of the moat. I hope the pictures give you some impression of the scale of the place.
El recinto del fuerte tiene 2 Kms de lado y un foso de mas de 70 metros que esta rodeado por una muralla de 8m de altura
Durante la segunda guerra mundial fue practicamente destruido y ahora han procedido a su reconstruccian, segun dicen , utilizando presos y el trabajo "voluntario" de los jovenes de la ciudad que tenian que trabajar un dia al mes
De lo poco que queda del edificio original son la torre de vigilancia y parte de la tumba del rey Mindon
The fort area has 2Kms on each side and 70m wide moat that is surrounded with an
8 m high wall
During the second world war it was practically destroyed and now they have proceeded to rebuild , as somebody says, using prison labour and the volunteer work of the city young boys that ought to work one day per month
The few original things of the tower that remain are the Watch tower and part of the king Mindon Tomb
The city of Mandalay is dominated by Mandalay castle.
It takes about 45 minutes to drive around it and just about any journey between two points in the city will involve driving alongside the castle at some point.
It costs USD10 to get into the castle to have a look. It is being used as some kind of military compound at the moment. You can take some pictures inside but there are quite a few restrictions. Not worth going in I would say. You don't have unrestricted access to the site, and considering most of the facility was destroyed in 1945, the palace ruins are reconstructions.
First of all: we didn't get in there
What can I say about it then? We thought we'd have a quick walk around the walls to arrive at the Biggest Book in the world but... the walk kept going on. There came no end to that dull street.
After one and a half wall (more than 2 kilometers I suppose) we suffered from the heat and halted a driver...
Be aware that there is an embarrasing conspiracy of silence in today's travel literature about the British Colonial Era in Burma. You will have to do some digging to discover any information whatsoever about the architectural treasures and curious infrastructures that were left behind in 1947and are largely intact today. Your modern guidebook will not tell you the longtime name of what is now blandly called "Mandaly Palace." My interests do not lie in the distant past, nor in the culturally sensitive present, so I'll spill the Beans:
Mandaly was the Royal city of the Burmese until it fell to the British in the 2nd aglo-Burmese War of 1885. The British annexed Upper Burma and exiled the last Burmese King to India, where he died in 1916. His old Palace, 1.4 miles on each side and surrounded by a fresh moat that dominating the city, became the British military and administrative center of what is still called the Mandalay Division. The name Fort Dufferin was used until well after the Brits left in 1947.
The Japanese ocupied Mandalay in 1941 after burning much of the city, and remained until driven out by the Allies in 1945. The Palace was destroyed in the last battle for the city in 1945. A fe wooden and badly gilded mockeries of the old palace buildings have been thrown up in the name of tourism. The Fort is now a Burmese Army base and tourists are authorized to enter only one gate and may walk up, and not leave, the one mile long path to the fake palace structures. Much more interesting are the old British barracks still in use, the lively Garrison life, an abandoned narrow guage railroad track and a rusted collection of WWII cannons just off the authorized path.
Do not be afraid of the dreaded soldiers of the present military distatorship. Folks being folks, and soldiers being soldiers, they are by and large a gregarious lot ready with a grin and a joke. Alas, they could not be persuaded to show me the extensive Japanese bunkers that are intact, and likely in use as storehouses and the like.