The dominant natural feature of Mandalay is its 790 ft (240 m) Mandalay Hill which towers above the city and the flat plain below. Virtually all visitors and pilgrims to Mandalay either climb the 1,729 steps of the covered southern stairway with its magnificent guardian chinthe (half-lion, half-dragon) at the entry, use stairways on the other sides or use easier means and take the escalator, cars or buses to the top. From its top, and from several way-stations along the ascent, one has a magnificent panorama of the city, the old Royal Palace and Fortress, as well as the Ayeyarwady river and the distant Shan Hills.
The story is told that when Gautama Buddha visited the hill he stretched out his hand to the plain below and prophesied that a great city and religious center would be founded at its base. The hill its consequently contains a numerous pagodas and religious shires, including the Peshawar relics of three bones of the Buddha given by King Ashoka (now exhibited elsewhere). Approximately half-way up the hill the Shweyattaw Temple houses a large golden standing statue of the Buddha commissioned by King Mindon; it is in a dramatic pose with his right hand pointing toward the Royal Palace and the city below. His faithful disciple, Ananda, prays attentively at his right side. The temple itself was one of the many religious projects of �the Hermit on the Hill,� U Khan Dee (U Kanti). There is also the Su Taung Pyi (or Sutaungpyai) and Two Snake Pagoda (Mway-hniq-kaung-hpaya), plus numerous other religious sites. And along the way one finds many souvenir stalls, religious material and astrologers.
About site paragraph 3.At its base, further and cementing its close ties with Buddhism, are the important pagodas of Kyauktawgyi , Kuthodaw and Sandamuni. Nearby are the Shwenandaw Kyaung, Atumashi, as well as the Royal Palace/Mandalay Fort complex.
Text by Robert D. Fiala, Concordia University, Nebraska
All images copyright 2002 by Professor Robert D. Fiala of Concordia University, Nebraska, USA
Clark, Michael and Joe Cummings. Myanmar (Burma).
Lonely Planet Publications, 2000. Melbourne
Courtauld, Carline. Burma (Myanmar).
Odyssey Publications, 1999. Hong Kong
Dorai, Francis, et al. Insight Guild Burma Myanmar
Apa Publications, GmbH and Co Verlang KG, 2000. Singapore
Strachan, Paul. Pagan: Art & Architecture of Old Burma, 2nd. ed.
Kiscadale Publications, 1996. Scotland