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Mandalay

In 1857 King Mindo founded a new royal capital at the foot of Mandalay Hill, from where the city took its name. On the death of the King, the monastery in which he died was dismantled and removed from the Royal Palace as it was thought that it would bring bad fortune. It was rebuilt outside the palace walls, so when the Royal Palace was destroyed by fire at the end of the Second World War, the monastery and its intricate wooden carvings were saved. Today the city itself is relatively modern and a hub of economic trading, as well as being considered the cultural and religious centre of Myanmar. The Royal Palace is still the glorious centrepiece to the city, and the iconic wooden U Bein Bridge is another of the city's wonderful historical highlights. Mandalay is famous for its hill, which with its abundance of monasteries and pagodas is a major site for Buddhist pilgrimages. For those that wish to join the pilgrims for the climb to the top, be prepared for the 1,729 steps that you'll have to climb up and down! The views from the top are incredible, with far reaching views across the plains of Mandalay and the Ayeyarwady River. At the foot of Mandalay Hill is found the world's largest book; 729 white stupas house the text of the Tripitaka, Theravada Buddhism's most sacred text. The world's largest iron Buddha is also found here.