Mandalay Palace is the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy. The palace was constructed, between 1857 and 1859 as part of King Mindon’s founding of the new royal capital city of Mandalay. The plan of Mandalay Palace largely follows the traditional Burmese palace design, inside a walled fort surrounded by a moat.
The palace itself is at the centre of the citadel and faces east.Mandalay Palace was the primary royal residence of King Mindon and King Thibaw, the last two kings of the country.
The complex ceased to be a royal residence and seat of government on 28 November 1885 when, during the Third Anglo-Burmese War, troops of the Burma Field Force entered the palace and captured the royal family.
The Mandalay Palace was constructed as part of King Mindon’s founding of Mandalay in February 1857.Reconstruction of the palace began in 1989, initiated by the Department of Archaeology.
The palace citadel’s four 2 km long walls form a perfect square, complete with a total of 48 bastions with gold tipped pyatthats or spires at regular intervals of 169 m (555 ft) and surrounded by a moat 64 m (210 ft) wide, 4.5 m (15 ft) deep.
On each face of the walls are three gateways placed at equal distances (508 m; 1666.5 ft) one from the other and from the corners.Each of the twelve gates, represented by its own zodiac sign, is 4.8 m (15.75 ft) wide and flanked on both sides by one-half of a bastion which supports the post of a many-tiered pavilion or pyatthat that rises over the gateway.
The pyatthats over middle gates, used by the royalty, have seven tiers while those on the rest have only five. Of these twelve gates, the main one was the central gate in the east wall, facing the Great Hall of Audience and the Lion Throne in the Palace.
Entering the Palace grounds from the east, on the right or north sits the Clock Tower, or Bahozin. It is a simple building, consisting of a high square plinth; on the top of this four columns sustain a wooden platform surmounted by a double-roof; the whole is crowned by a small finial and a hti or umbrella.
It is from this platform that the passing of time was made known to the city by sounding regularly a gong and a very large drum at each watch, that is, every third hour; the day and the night were each divided into four watches. The time was marked by a water-clock.
This consisted of a large water jar on the water of which was placed a brass bowl; in the bottom of the latter was pierced a tiny hole, its size so calculated that the bowl filled with water and dropped to the bottom of the jar at exact recurring intervals, which were the hours.
Glass Place is the largest and considered one of the most beautiful apartments of the Palace. It is believed to be King Mindon’s principal living apartment of the palace. Like all the Throne rooms, it is divided by a wooden partition into two rooms.
In the east room is the Bee Throne (Bhamarasana), so called because it was adorned with figures of bees in the small niches at the bottom of the pedestal. This was where the ceremony for the nomination of the Chief Queen and the Royal nuptial were held. It was also where the king and queen celebrated the Burmese New Year, and where the formal ear piercing of young princesses took place. The body of King Mindon was laid out in this room for viewing after his death in 1878.
The west room, which was formerly divided into several smaller ones, was the principal living room of Mindon, and no other persons were allowed to sleep there except the four principal queens, to each of whom was appointed a room near the royal bed-chamber, which consisted of a small room surmounted by a pyatthat, or small spire consisting of seven superposed roofs similar to the Golden Spire over the Lion Throne Room on the cast of the Palace. This pyatthat was of gilt copper.
On each side of this spired-room were constantly kept open two white umbrellas. The ladies-in-waiting of the Glass Palace were, by turns, stationed around the west room to wait upon. Their Majesties; they, whether princesses or minor queens, were not allowed to enter this room with slippers on or with their golden umbrellas: they had to leave these at the entrance with their attendants.