Mandalay is my birth place. I was born at the corner of 29 street and 83rd street. When my mother, Daw Khin Nyunt @ Hj Kllsom Bi followed my father U Aung Min @ Sheik Mohamed Zafrudin to Rangoon, I was took care by my grandmother Daw Daw Kyawt and continue to stay in Mandalay up to 4 -5 years of age. My grandmother’s younger brother U Thein Maung was a sewing machine mechanic/elected Municipal councillor of U Nu. I was breast fed sometimes by his wife  Daw Jyan, because their second son Pho Toke @ Aung Thein @ Md. Kassim was one month only older than me. So I called them Ah Pae/Ah Mae meaning Dad/Mum. (Pho Toke married very early to an artist/dancer and passed away last year with Lung Cancer.)

U Thein Maung’s younger brother U Harun worked together with him as a mechanic. But his political leaning was to Socialist and he even entered election against his elder brother as a Tee Myae (Pha Sa Pa La) splinter party of U Nu’s Thant Shin (Pha Sa Pa La) . Two of U Thein Maung’s grandchildren are now in Singapore, one working and the younger one studying there.

Their eldest brother U Pyau just stayed south at No. 158 30th, Street between 82nd. and 83rd. Street, just opposite to the Chinese Overseas School, near the entrance to Rama Nat Shrine lane and west of Lan Lae Pagoda which was situated at the middle of the 30th. Street. Just down the road there was Han Tharwaddy Newspaper press and HQ where famous U Win Tin worked. And at the further west there lies the famous  Ein Dawyar Pagoda.

And to the east of our house, there were Yodaya Zay (Ayoddaya Bazaar), Yodaya Zay qrts. and Yodaya Zay Police station. That area is between 81st and 82nd. street on the 30th. street.

During one of the battles/wars between Burmese Kings and Siam/Thai/Yodaya/Ayoddaya  Kings, Burmese won the battle, arrested the Thai Royal family; King, queen, princes and princess. Only after a decade later, when the Thai king passed away, Burmese allowed the royal family to go back home. Once they arrived back home, they were used by the Thai rebels as icons in the rebellion of the Burmese and later got back their throne. No wonder the British never allowed the bodies of Burmese King and Indian Moghul Kings they captured to brought back home or even hide the burial site of Zafar Shah.

I need to mention that 80th. street at the little bit east ward is call Tayoke Tan or Chinese qrts. The road I was born, 29 street, from 80th up to 84th. street was also occupied mostly by Chinese. No wonder during the Chinese New Year time, Pho Toke and Nwe Nwe, children of  U Thein Maung were very fair and mistaken as poor Chinese and some Chinese kids teased them why they never wore new clothes even on Chinese New Year days.

On the 29th. street, opposite our house at the road side was People’s library (Pyithu’ Sarkyi’ dike, started or established by my granduncles. Later General Ne Win ordered to clear the road side and was shifted into the Taun (South) Obo mosque qrt. A little bit to the north, there lies the North Obo Mosque donated by Burma’s second last King Mindon. Further south from my place of birth on the 29th. street between 83rd and 84th. road there was another mosque called Taung (south) Sin Kyone. Sin Kyone means Elephant’s place where many Muslims worked as royal Elephant brigade. And Obo means place where Royal potters stay. These places are given by the Burmese King Mindon who established Mandalay. And the similar Mosques and quarters were found in old Amarapura Royal city. My father was later  elected as the Chairman of the Taung Sin Kyone Mosque.

There were at least 3000 Pathans from Afghanistan were settled in Mandalay and there were historical records or Muslim Royal soldiers/body guards and even the prisoners of war were settled in Mandalay and nearby districts. So we Burmese Muslims in Mandalay could not understand or accept when we were called Kalas or recent Indian migrants, mixed blooded people and started all the discriminations by the authorities and especially in the Medical field by our professors and lecturers. I will write all those in later chapter. I thought that once Burma’s Medical field was dominated by Indian doctors and my Professors and lecturers were first and second generation Burmans (many of them had Chinese blood but pretend to be pure Burmese). 

Quardani, drummer’s mosque was just 3-4 houses away from us. We were surrounded by the houses of Taung Balu mosque members who that time discarded or revolt the traditional Ulamas/Tabalique as Indians and they try to portray themselves as pure Burmese who professed Islam. They wear sarons/longyis, tike pones or Burmese’s Chinese style jackets, shaved the beards and even tried to pray in Burmese and only read the Burmese translated Korans. They used to calculate the sightings of moons and used to celebrate the starting of Ramdan (Ramzan) and Eids earlier than the rest.

My parents later bought over that NO. 158 30th. street house and the previous owner, my grandmother’s eldest brother’s family shifted further south to 31st. Street B/W 82nd. and 83rd. street near Myo Gone Yong Cinema. They stayed at the ground floor of the double story wooden house. His sister-in-law stayed upstairs. She was the wife of the Kyar Ba Nyein. Present famous Magazine editor U Win Nyein was their son. My brothers, sister and I later went to their house every day to learn Arabic from Ah Par Gyi U Pyaw. My youngest brother Dr Khin Maung Htwe, Consultant Cardiologist accidently met with U Win Nyein at Bangkok while he was on the study tour at Bangkok Cardiac Center for two months about two years ago.

I will write about my childhood years later. My grandmother and I followed our family when I was about 4-5 yrs old when my parents shifted to Meikhtila. I got to stay with my two younger brothers and our only sister was born there. After about three years later we all shifted to Kalaw. When I was in 4th. std. my parents need to go back to stay and work in Mandalay. They stayed in 29th and 30 th. street homes I mentioned above.

After I finished 5th. std in Kalaw, Kingswood school, my grandmother, my two younger brothers and sister shifted or followed our parents back to stay in Mandalay. Then I already had six younger brothers and a sister.


Mandalay (Burmeseမန္တလေးမြို့MLCTSmanta.le: mrui.; pronounced[màndəlé mjo̰] in Burmese, IPA: /ˌmændəˈleɪ/ in English) is the second largest city and the lastroyal capital of Myanmar. Located 445 miles (716 km) north of Yangon on the east bank of theIrrawaddy river, the city has a population of nearly 1 million,[1] 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.[2][3] Despite Naypyidaw‘s recent rise, Mandalay remains Upper Myanmar’s main commercial, educational and health center.


The city gets its name from the nearby Mandalay Hill. The name is likely a derivative of a Paliword although the exact word of origin remains unclear. The root word has been speculated as: “Mandala” (meaning, circle or plains land), “Mandare” (believed to mean “auspicious land”),[4]or “Mandara” (a mountain from Hindu mythology)[5].

When it was founded in 1857, the royal city was officially named Yadanabon, the Burmeseversion of its Pali name Ratanapura which means “The City of Gems”. It was also called Lay Kyun Aung Myei (Victorious Land over the Four Islands) and the royal palace, Mya Nan San Kyaw (The Famed Royal Emerald Palace).



Mandalay Palace Grounds


The Thudhamma Zayats built during the reign of King Mindon

Early history

Like most former (and present) 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.[6]

The new capital city site was 25.5 square miles (66 km²) 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.[7] The 1020-acre (413-hectare) royal palace compound was surrounded by four 6666 feet (2032 m) long walls and a moat 210 feet (64 m) wide, 15 feet (4.57 m) deep. Along the wall were turrets for watchmen with gold-tipped spires at intervals of 555 feet (169 m).[8] The walls had three gates on each side, and five bridges to cross the moat.[7] In addition, the king also commissioned theKuthodaw 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.[6]

For the next 26 years, Mandalay was to be the last royal capital of the last independent Burmese kingdombefore 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.

Colonial Mandalay (1885-1948)

While Mandalay would continue to be the chief city of Upper Myanmar during the British colonial rule, the commercial and political importance had irreversibly shifted to Yangon. The British take on the development of Mandalay (and Myanmar) was mainly through commercial lens. While rail transport reached Mandalay in 1889,[9] less than four years after the annexation, the first college in Mandalay, Mandalay College, was not established until 40 years later, in 1925.[10] As for respecting Burmese sensitivities, not only did the British loot the palace, some of the which are still on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum,[11] but they also renamed the palace compound Fort Dufferin and used it to billet troops.

Throughout the colonial years, Mandalay was the center of Burmese culture and Burmese Buddhist learning, and as the last royal capital, was regarded by the Burmese as a primary symbol of sovereignty and identity. Between the two World Wars, the city was Upper Myanmar’s focal point in a series of nationwide protests against the British rule. Mandalay suffered heavy damage during World War II, and was under Japaneseoccupation from May 1942 to March 1945. The palace citadel, turned into a supply depot by the Japanese, was burnt to the ground by allied bombing; only the royal mint and the watch tower survived. (A faithful replica of the palace was rebuilt in the 1990s.)

Contemporary Mandalay (1948-Present)

After the country’s independence from Britain in 1948, Mandalay continued to be the main cultural, educational and economic hub of Upper Myanmar. Until the early 1990s, most students from Upper Myanmar went to Mandalay for university education. (Until 1991, Mandalay University and the University of Medicine, Mandalay were the only two universities in Upper Myanmar. Only a few other cities had “Degree Colleges” affiliated with Mandalay University that offered a limited number of subjects.) Today, the city attracts a fraction of students as the military government requires students to attend their local universities in order to reduce concentration of students in one place.

The 1950s were the heyday of Mandalay’s cultural influence–especially in music. Composer Myoma Nyein‘s Thingyan (Burmese New Year) songs, many of which use Mandalay as the backdrop, came to define a generation, and have helped to reaffirm the city’s special bond with the Burmese people each year. In November 1959, Mandalay celebrated its centennial with a festival at the foot of Mandalay Hill. Specialcommemorative stamps were issued.[12]

During Gen. Ne Win‘s isolationist rule (1962-1988), the city’s infrastructure, never great even during the British rule, deteriorated even more. By the early 1980s, the second largest city of Myanmar resembled a big town with low-rise buildings and dusty streets filled mostly with bicycles. In the 1980s, the city was hit by two major fires. In May 1981, a fire razed more than 6,000 houses and public buildings, leaving more than 36,000 homeless. On 24 March 1984, another fire destroyed 2,700 buildings and made 23,000 people homeless.[13][14] (Fires continued to plague the city. A more recent fire destroyed Mandalay’s second largest market, Yadanabon Market, in February 2008.)[15]


A Chinese-owned hotel in downtown

The 1980s fires augured a significant change in the city’s physical character and ethnic makeup. Huge swaths of land left vacant by the fires were later purchased mostly by the ethnic Chinese, pushing out the indigenous Bamar to the suburbs. The Chinese influx accelerated after the current military governmentcame to power in 1988. With the Burmese government turning a blind eye, many Chinese immigrants (mostly from Yunnan but also Sichuan) poured into Upper Myanmar in the 1990s and many openly ended up in Mandalay.[3] Today, the Chinese are believed to make up about 30%-40% of the city’s population, and are a major factor in the city’s doubling of population from about half a million in 1980 to about a million in 2008.

The enterprising Chinese are largely responsible for the economic revitalization of the downtown, now rebuilt with apartment blocks, hotels and shopping malls, and returning the city to its role as the trading hub connecting Lower Myanmar, Upper Myanmar, China and India. The Chinese dominance in the city center has pushed out the rest to the suburbs. The urban sprawl now encompasses Amarapura, the very city King Mindon left some 150 years ago.

Despite the rise of Naypyidaw, the country’s capital since 2006, Mandalay remains Upper Myanmar’s main commercial, educational and health center.



Mandalay metropolitan area seen from satellite


Mandalay is located in the central dry zone of Myanmar by the Irrawaddy river at 21°98′ North, 96°08′ East, 64 meters (210 feet) above sea level. Its standard time zone is UTC/GMT +6:30 hours. Mandalay lies along the Sagaing Fault, a tectonic plate boundary between the India and Sunda plates. (The biggest earthquakein its history, with a magnitude of 7, occurred in 1956.[16] The devastation however was greatest in nearbySagaing, and it came to be known as the Great Sagaing Quake.)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mandalay Division falls in the Dry Zone of Central Mandalay bordering Bago Division on the south, Magway Division on the west, Sagaing Division on the north and Shan State on the east. Its area is 14,295 square miles and its capital is Mandalay City.

Area & population
Myanmars, Karens, Kayahs, Chins, Paos, Mons and Shans inhabit the 29 Townships and 1,796 Wards and Village-Tracts of the Division. The population is about 4,580,923.

The principal economy of the Division is agriculture, main crops grown being paddy, wheat, maize, groundnut, sesame, cotton, pulses, chili, onion, Myanmar tobacco, Virginia tobacco, Mahuya sunflower and toddy palm.

Mondaing Dam, Kyetmauktaung Dam, Pyaungpya Dam, Yenichaung Dam, Thitson Dam, and Yezin Dam are reliable sources of water for irrigated agriculture. There are also the Sedawgyi Reservoir and Chaungmagyi Embankment, with work in progress on Kinda Dam for completion by 1985-86.

Click here for a larger viewProminent industries are Mandalay Brewery and Distillery, Meiktila Textile Mill, Canning Factory, Myitnge Loco Workshop, Paleik Textile Mill and Pyinmana Sugar Mill.
In handicrafts, the Weaving School and silk weaving in Amarapura, braziers, stone carving, wood carving and gold-leaf manufacturing industries are famous.

Nearby attractions
Mandalay has the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda which is a special tourist attraction. Mandalay was the capital city during the time of feudalism and the pagoda and temples of Bagan are the nation’s cultural heritage.In the heart of Mandalay city, resides the Mandalay Royal Palace of the last monarch of Myanmar. The Royal Palace has been renovated. 

The second International Airport in Myanmar has been opened in Mandalay which leads the country to become a better route for visiting.

Mandalay is also well-known for the silk weaving industry of Acheik or the Traditional Myanmar Longyis, that are still in fashion for today’s Myanmar life style. 



Visiting the U-Bein bridge which is made of teak pillars, crossing the Taung-ta-man Lake in Amarapura, will give an enchanting experience.


One Response to “Mandalay”

  1. Myanmar Muslim traditional food during Eid or Hari Raya | Dr. Abdul Rahman Zafrudin @ Ko Ko Gyi Says:

    […] Mandalay […]

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