Amarapura - City of Immortality
Coordinates: 21°54′N 96°03′E
Amarapura (City of Immortality) is a city in the Mandalay Division of Myanmar, situated 11 km to the south of Mandalay. It is often referred to as Taungmyo (Southern City) in relation to Mandalay but nowadays the two have become continuous from urban sprawl.
King Bodawpaya (1781-1819) of the Konbaung Dynasty founded Amarapura as his new capital in 1783, soon after he ascended the throne. In 1795, he received the first British embassy to Burma from the British East India Company led by Michael Symes . Bodawpaya's grandson, King Bagyidaw (1819-1837), moved the Court back to Ava in 1823. Bagyidaw's successor King Tharrawaddy (1837-1846) again moved the royal capital back to Amarapura.
From 1841-1857, King Mindon (1853-1878) decided to make Amarapura the capital again before relocating to his planned city of Mandalay in 1860. Today little remains of the old city as the palace buildings were dismantled and moved by elephant to the new location, and the city walls were pulled down for use as building materials for roads and railways. Part of the moat is still recognisable near Bagaya Monastery.
The city is known today for its traditional silk and cotton weaving, and bronze casting. It is a popular tourist day-trip destination from Mandalay.
Sights of interest
* Pahtodawgyi – A stupa built by King Bodawpaya in 1816 outside the city walls.
In 1800, Buddhist clergy from Sri Lanka obtained higher ordination in this city and founded the Amarapura Nikaya (Amarapura sect). There is a Yadanabon University near by U Bein’s Bridge.
Bodawpaya (Thai: ปะดุง) literally Royal Grandfather, 11 March 1745 - 5 June 1819) was the sixth king of the Konbaung Dynasty of Burma (1782-1819). Born Maung Shwe Waing and later Badon Min, he was the fourth son of Alaungpaya, founder of the dynasty and the Third Burmese Empire. He was proclaimed king after deposing his nephew Phaungkaza Maung Maung, son of his oldest brother Naungdawgyi, at Ava. Bodawpaya moved the royal capital back to Amarapura in 1782. He was titled Hsinbyumyashin (Lord of the White Elephants), although he became known to posterity as Bodawpaya in relation to his successor, his grandson Bagyidaw (Royal Elder Uncle), who in turn was given this name in relation to his nephew Mindon Min. He fathered 62 sons and 58 daughters by about 200 consorts.
Also known as Bodaw U Waing, he invaded Arakan in 1784 sending his royal armies led by his son, the Heir Apparent Prince of Dabayin, father of Bagyidaw and Tharrawaddy Min, across the Western Yoma range of mountains. The capital of Arakan Mrauk U was captured on 2 January 1785. The Mahamuni Buddha image, among other treasures such as the Khmer bronze statues, were brought back to mainland Burma; these can still be seen in Mandalay. Also taken were 20,000 captives as slaves to pagodas and temples, and the nobility at Amarapura. Once Arakan was annexed as a province of Burma, her borders became contiguous with British India. The Arakanese revolted in 1794, and the British Governor of India Sir John Shore (later Lord Teignmouth) sent Captain Michael Symes on an embassy, fully equipped to gather as much information as possible about the country, to the Court of Ava as the kingdom was still known to the outside world. Bodawpaya invaded Rattanakosin in 1785 resulting in defeat, and again in 1808, but failed to capture the capital. The Governor of Tavoy revolted in 1791 with the aid of the Siamese, but a punitive expedition sent by Bodawpaya by sea laid siege ending in peace negotiations in 1793 and the ceding of the Tenasserim coast to the Burmese.
Religion and culture
Bodawpaya proclaimed himself the next messianic Buddha or Maitreya (Areimmadeiya), but his claim was firmly rejected by the Sangha. During his reign, scholarship flourished due to the discipline and stability achieved by establishing a chapter of Sangharajas or senior monks charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the purity of the Sangha. He had successfully arbitrated in favour of orthodoxy to cover both shoulders on the alms round in the controversy concerning the correct way of wearing the robes, and the Order of Monks was unified under the Thudhamma sect. Burma became the custodian of Buddhism in the region, and the upasampada ordination was re-introduced to Sri Lanka where it established the Amarapura Nikaya.
In 1790 Bodawpaya begun the construction of a gigantic stupa called Mantalagyi (Great Royal Stupa) at Mingun, 11 km up the River Irrawaddy from Mandalay on the west bank. It was however never finished after a prophecy went round saying Payagyi lè apeethat, moksoe thonnya kap - 'Once the great pagoda has been wrought, the Moksoe dynasty will come to nought'. It was meant to have stood 150 metres, tall enough to be seen from Shwebo in the west, the birthplace of the dynasty, towering above the Minwun Hills. An earthquake in 1838 left huge fissures in the structure, and also caused the heads of the two gigantic chinthes fall into the river. It remains the largest pile of bricks in the world. There was also a gigantic 90 ton bell dedicated to the stupa called the Mingun Bell, cast between 1808 and 1810. It is the largest ringing bell in the world as the larger bell in Moscow Kremlin called the Tsar bell is broken.During his reign Bodawpaya also proved to be a great patron of the performing arts; he appointed a minister called Thabin Wun, and established strict regulations by royal decree (Ameintdaw). He also ordered a major economic survey of the kingdom in 1784.
Bodawpaya was succeeded after his death in 1819 by his grandson Sagaing Min (Prince of Sagaing) who later became known as Bagyidaw. The Heir Apparent, father of Bagyidaw, had died in 1808.
Web Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodawpaya
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