Mandalay - City of Myanmar
Mandalay is the second largest city and the last royal capital of Myanmar. Located 445 miles north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy river, the city has a population of nearly 1 million and is the capital of Mandalay Division.
Mandalay is the economic hub of Upper Myanmar and considered the center of Burmese culture. A continuing influx of Chinese immigrants mostly from Yunnan Province in the past twenty years has reshaped the city's ethnic makeup and increased its economic dynamism. Despite Naypyidaw's recent rise, Mandalay remains Upper Myanmar's main commercial, educational and health center.
Like most former capitals of Myanmar, Mandalay was founded on the wishes of the ruler of the day. On 13 February 1857, King Mindon founded a new royal capital at the foot of Mandalay Hill, ostensibly to fulfill a prophecy on the founding of a metropolis of Buddhism in that exact place on the occasion of the 2,400th jubilee of Buddhism.
The new capital city site was 25.5 square miles in area, surrounded by four rivers. The plan called for a 144-square block grid patterned city, anchored by a 16 square block royal palace compound at the center by Mandalay Hill.The 1020-acre royal palace compound was surrounded by four 6666 feet long walls and a moat 210 feet wide, 15 feet deep. Along the wall were turrets for watchmen with gold-tipped spires at intervals of 555 feet. The walls had three gates on each side, and five bridges to cross the moat.
In addition, the king also commissioned the Kuthodaw Pagoda, the Pahtan-haw Shwe Thein higher ordination hall, the Thudhamma Zayats or public houses for preaching the Doctrine, and the library for the Buddhist scriptures. In June 1857, the former royal palace of Amarapura was dismantled and moved by elephants to the new location at the foot of Mandalay Hill although construction of the palace compound was officially completed only two years later, on Monday, 23 May 1859.
For the next 26 years, Mandalay was to be the last royal capital of the last independent Burmese kingdom before its final annexation by the British. Mandalay ceased to be the capital on 28 November 1885 when the conquering British sent King Thibaw and his queen Supayalat to exile, ending the Third Anglo-Burmese War.
Mandalay is Burma's cultural and religious center of Buddhism, having numerous monasteries and more than 700 pagodas. At the foot of Mandalay Hill sits the world's official "Buddhist Bible", also known as the world’s largest book, in Kuthodaw Pagoda. There are 729 slabs of stone that together are inscribed with the entire Buddhist canon, each housed in its own white stupa. The buildings inside the old Mandalay city walls, surrounded by a moat,which is repaired in recent times using prison labour, comprise the Mandalay Palace, mostly destroyed during World War II. It is now replaced by a replica, Mandalay Prison and a military garrison, the headquarters of the Central Military Command.
Mandalay has the best educational facilities and institutions, after Yangon, in Myanmar where state spending on education is among the lowest in the world. Students in poor districts routinely drop out in middle school as schools have to rely on forced "donations" and various fees from parents for nearly everything – school maintenance to teachers' salaries. Many wealthy Mandalay parents enroll their children in the city's English language private schools for primary and secondary education and Chinese and Singaporean universities for university education. Some wealthy ethnic Chinese families also send their children to "cram schools" where students study for entrance exams into Chinese universities from 6am to 8am, then to government high schools from 9am to 3pm, and finally preparation classes for Singapore GCE O levels from 4pm to 9pm.
For the rest of the students who cannot afford to go abroad for studies, Mandalay offers Upper Myanmar's best institutions of higher education. The city's University of Medicine, Mandalay, University of Dental Medicine, Mandalay, Mandalay Technological University and University of Computer Studies, Mandalay are among the nation's most selective universities. The vast majority of university students in Mandalay attend liberal arts universities: Mandalay University, the oldest university in Upper Myanmar, and Yadanabon University.
MYANMAR National Bird : Burmese Peacock (Polyplectron bicalcaratum or Grey Peacock-Pheasant