The City of Mandalay, within the walls
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Mandalay in Burma from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: Burma Circle, 1903-07. The photograph was taken in 1903 by an unknown photographer under the direction of Taw Sein Ko, the Superintendent of the Burma Archaeological Survey at the time. Mandalay was Burma’s last great royal capital and was founded in 1857 by Mindon Min (reigned 1853-78), Burma’s penultimate king. It was built in fulfilment of a Buddhist prophecy that a religious centre would be created at the foot of Mandalay Hill, and in 1861 the court was transferred there from the previous capital of Amarapura. The original city was built as a fortress in the shape of a perfect square with the Nandaw or Royal Palace at its centre. Its battlemented walls faced the cardinal directions and were each nearly two kilometres (1.2 miles) long, surrounded by a 70 metre-wide moat on all four sides. This view is taken from Mandalay Hill, which lies to the north of the city and gives a spectacular panorama of it and the surrounding plains. Over the trees in the foreground can be seen two sides of the fortress and the moat, beyond which lie the palace grounds. The Irrawaddy River is visible in the dusty haze on the horizon. The glory of Mandalay was shortlived as it was annexed by the British Empire in 1886 after the Third Anglo-Burmese war, renamed Fort Dufferin and a military cantonment was built inside the walls. The palace and other buildings were destroyed by Allied bombing raids in 1945 during the Second World War and the walls and the moat were all that remained.