Officially named "Mya Nan San Kyaw" golden Palace, it was
built by the second last Myanmar sovereign King Mindon (A.D. 1853-78).
King Mindon moved his Capital from Amarapura to Mandalay which he founded
in 1857. He therefore moved the golden spired palace "Aung Nan San Thar"
from Amarapura to Mandalay.
The new palace town at Mandalay was named "Yatanabon". It
was a square, measuring 600 tars (2400 cubits) on each side, totalling
2400 tars (9600 cubits) for four sides. It had 12 gates, 3 on each side,
and 48 spires on the town walls. There were 144 square blocks of living
quarters inside the palace town. In the centre of the palace town, on the
site of 16 square blocks was the palace platform fenced by walls of
massive teak trunks. The palace platform measures 1004 feet from East to
West, and 574 feet from North to South. On the platform stood 144
buildings mainly of teak in which the royal families resided and
ceremonies and festivals were held.
"Myey Nan Taw" or the principal Lion Throne room and two
Audience Halls, each on either side of the Lion Throne room combined is
the most important and prominent building. It is the tallest building on
the palace platform. It is 207 feet high facing East, and topped by a gilt
7 tier spire on the roof. The Royal stairway was a flight of steps at the
extreme Eastern end of the palace platform. There were similar steps at
the extreme Western end of the palace platform. The palace platform was
divided into Eastern and Western portions. The Eastern portion was
reserved for the King and male members of the royal family and the court;
and the Western portion for the Chief Queen and female members. Buildings
in the Eastern portion belonged to the King and male members and those in
the Western Portion belonged to the Chief Queen and female members.
Next to the Myey Nan Taw were four main halls in which
vassal kings and lords paid homage and tribute to the king, thrice a year.
There was Western Zeytawun Hall in the Western Portion which was reached
by a flight of steps on the Western end of the palace platform, with four
main halls in which their Majesties received homage and tributes from
ladies and wives of Ministers and high officials.
In the Eastern Zeytawun Hall next to Myey Nan Taw were kept
for royal worship gold images of the Buddha and statuettes of deceased
forefathers of the King and Chief Queen. There were houses for keeping the
royal crowns and regalia, the King’s sleeping Chamber called Glass Palace)
and the sleeping chambers of four Chief Queens. On the north of them are
the Byedaik or Meeting Room of the Interior Ministers and the house for
keeping royal headgears. On the South was the Treasury where Crown
jewellery and important documents and records were kept. Two royal
stairways, one on the north and the other on the south sides of the palace
platform have each a minor hall called Myauk Samot on the North and Taung
Samot on the South in which their Majesties performed other functions.
Between the Glass Palace and the Western Zeytawun Hall were six rows of 78
houses for the lesser queens.
In King Thibaw’s time, some buildings were demolished and
instead the Palace towers, royal bath with fountains, brick meeting hall
and summer House were added. But the total number of buildings on the
palace platform was 144, the same number as in his father’s time.
Eight most important function halls are so-called throne
rooms. There were eight different kinds of thrones in different rooms.
First the Lion Throne or Sihasana Throne is the throne in the niches of
which are stylized and gilt statuettes of lion. It is in the Myey Nan Taw.
Hluttaw or King’s Privy Council also had a lion throne. The other seven
are Gazasana throne with elephant statuettes, Hamsa Sana throne with
Brahmany duck statuettes, Maruya Sana throne with peacock statuettes, Miga
Sana throne with deer statuettes, Bamaya Sana throne with bee statuettes,
Sankha Sana throne with conch shell statuettes and Padumo Sana throne with
lotus flower statuettes. In each throne room specific royal functions and
ceremonies were performed.
An excerpt from the research
papers by Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt