Throughout the British colonial era, Mandalay Palace was seen by the Burmese as a symbol sovereignty. Much of the palace compound was destroyed during World War II by allied bombing, and only the royal mint and the watch tower survived. A replica of the palace was rebuilt in the 1990s with some modern materials.
Originally, the magnificent palace was built of teak wood on raised brick plinth gilded with gold and vermilion. All ancillary buildings for the court, the fortified high walls with ramparts, the moat, water systems, roads, gardens with shady tamarind trees, recreational playgrounds, swimming pools, mint, security ports with infantry, cavalry, archers, artillery, sheds for royal elephants, stables, audience halls, throne halls, religious edifices and monastery and devotional halls were superbly planned and executed to minute details. The artistic workmanship and handicrafts depicting the glory of the golden age is still awe-inspiring to me.
The entity of the palace cannot be separated from the Mandalay Hill, from where the prophecy and name is dewed. Located right in the centre of the palace grounds, which is meticulously a true square, enclosed within fortified high walls with ramparts and the beautiful deep moat all the layout in perfect squares. So much so the city surrounding the place too had been laid-out in blocks of squares enclosed by sheets.
The reflection of the Mandalay on the eastern moat is a beautiful scene to behold from the south eastern corner. The panoramic view of the Palace and the surrounding areas as far as the Sagaing Bridge, the Irrawaddy River and the hill ranges seen from the Mandalay Hill during sunset is an enchanting experience.
I had visited Mandalay pretty much last out of all the major places in Myanmar, and I now realise that with such amazing attractions as this grand old royal palace by the river, I should have came here earlier. Admission to Mandalay Palace was $5 per person, although it seems to go up and down depending on the season. However, whatever you pay, I can vouch that it will be well worth it! Combine a trip to the palace with an ascent of Mandalay Hill (preferably beforehand) as they are literally right next to each other!