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Travel Guide > Asia > Burma/Myanmar > Mandalay > Mandalay

Mandalay History & Politics

  
 
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Mandalay, the very name evokes the splendors of the Burma of old!

But, most people will be surprised to learn that Mandalay is not an old city, not even a medieval one, but rather a new city that was created by King Mingdon Min of Burma in 1857 as the new capital of the kingdom of Ava. Only two Burmese kings ruled from there, King Mingdon and King Thibaw, before the British conquest of Upper Burma in 1885.

History records it as a city of splendor between 1858 and 1885 but most of the magnificence is gone, destroyed by the fire that consumes wooden structures, by the cavalier attitudes of its colonial rulers, and by intensive bombing by the allies during the reconquest of Burma in the Second World War.

The city, neatly planned with its lettered roads and numbered streets, is a British creation. The once magnificent Royal Palace and the great Atumashi (incomparable) pagoda, King Mingdon Min's finest creations, are modern reconstructions supervised by the ruling Military junta with the help of forced labor.

Today, Mandalay lies at the end of the Lashio Road and it is, by Burmese standards, relatively prosperous as a center for trade with China and as a center for the growing trade with India.

Despite the capital having been shifted to Naypyidaw, Mandalay remains by far the main commerical centre of Upper Myanmar.

Mandalay is a haven for drug kingpins and is a main trading centre of illicit drugs. In 2005, an explosion occurred at Zegyo Market. That being said, Mandalay is generally a very safe city.





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