Mandalay, the very name evokes the splendours 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. It was a city of
splendour between 1858 and 1885 but most of the magnificence is gone,
destroyed by the fire that consumed wooden structures and by intensive
bombing by the Axis powers during 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. Today, Mandalay lies at the end of the Lashio Road and
it is, by Burmese standards, relatively prosperous as a centre for trade
with China and as a centre for the growing trade with India. Despite
the capital having been moved to Naypyidaw, Mandalay remains by far the main commercial centre of Upper Myanmar
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