Rivers of Color: Mandalay & Mingun Photography Tour

Mandalay was founded in 1857 by King Mindon, replacing Amarapura as the new royal capital of the Konbaung dynasty. It was Burma’s final royal capital before the kingdom’s annexation by the British Empire in 1885. The city suffered extensive destruction during the Japanese conquest of Burma in the Second World War. After Yangon, Mandalay is Myanmar’s second-largest city and is today the economic centre of Upper Myanmar and considered the centre of Burmese culture.

After the fall of the Pagan Kingdom in Bagan due to several Mongol invasions, Myanmar split into smaller (city) states. But the kings who ruled along the Irrawaddy in Sagaing, Inwa, Amarapura and finally, Mandalay, conquered the lands – at one point even expanding the kingdom to Ayutthaya, Thailand – and returned Myanmar to its imperial glory.

Mingun, Mandalay City Workshops, and U Bein Bridge Sunset

Early boat to Mingun for best light and avoid crowds

Mingun Pagoda (also Mingun Pahtodawgyi or Mingun Paya), had it been finished, would have measured a whopping 150 m. This height would have made it the largest pagoda in the world. But after construction began in 1790, astronomers foretold King Bodawpaya that the kingdom would end if it were ever completed. So construction was abandoned when the project had reached a third of the intended size. Some say, this, at least, secures Mingun Paya the title of “largest pile of bricks in the World.”

The Mingun Bell weighs 90 tons and for a long time was the largest suspended bell in the World (the “Bell of Good Luck” in Henan, China, surpassed it in 2000).

Bodawpaya’s grandson built the Hsinbyume or Myatheindan (Mya Thein Tan) Pagoda after the death of his favorite consort, Hsinbyume (Lady of the White Elephant), in childbirth.The crisp white waves leading up to a platform were modeled after mythical Mount Meru.

Return to Mandalay city for lunch

Artisans carve Buddha images from stone in Mandalay
Artisans carve Buddha images from stone in Mandalay

Artisanal workshops (slipper making, stone carving, bronze casting)

Sunset at U Bein Bridge

More Mandalay Photography Tours

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Check out some of the amazing photographs taken on our Mandalay photography and sightseeing tours!