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Mandalay can be found on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, it is Burma’s cultural capital and its second largest city, after Rangoon. Recognised for its time-honoured history, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to profound culture and numerous historical places of interest.
Mandalay is a Buddhist holy land and there are an abundance of Buddhist temples and monasteries in this area, not to mention half of the Buddhist monks in Burma live here. One of the main attractions is the Mahaghandayon Monastery which is home to thousands of young monks. In addition, located nearby on Mandalay Hill, you’ll find Maha Myat Muni Paya which is one of Myanmar's holiest places of pilgrimage, with an enormous bejewelled Buddha. You’ll also see Shwe Kyi Myin Paya,a stupa dating to the 1st century that was constructed by Prince Min Shin Saw. At the foot of Mandalay Hill, is the Kuthodaw Paya, which is home to the world's largest book, the complete works of Theravada, Buddhism’s most sacred text, the Tripitaka, which is located within the 729 white stupas scattered across the complex.
Mandalay isn’t an ancient city, although it was once its capital under King Mingdon Min in 1857. In World War II the city was bombed and the only surviving building was the Shwenandaw Monastery, previously the old royal palace, which is constructed entirely from teak wood and decorated with ornate carvings.
As in the rest of Burma, life is still very laid back here. Everyone uses bicycles, and it is astonishing to think that there are more millionaires here than in Rangoon! Most of the money has come here from outside of Burma, largely from trade with China and India. Despite many other foreign influences from across Asia, Mandalay still has a very British feel about it.
We all enjoy a good fact or two - here are a few useful ones about Mandalay:
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