The Royal Palace of Mandalay, also called the Mandalay Palace, was built by King Mindon to represent Mount Meru, the centre of the universe, according to Brahman-Buddhist concept of the cosmos. This is something that is similar to Angkor and Borobudur. The site itself was chosen based on auspicious omen and astronomical calculations.
Mandalay Palace was built of teak wood on raised brick plinth gilded with gold and vermilion. The queens' chambers are laid out according to priority - 1 Southern, 2 Northern and 3 Lesser queens in the West. All the structures within the palace, including the court, fortified walls with ramparts, moat, water systems, roads, gardens with shady tamarind trees, recreational playgrounds, swimming pools, mint, security ports with infantry, cavalry, archers, artillery, sheds for royal elephants, stables, audience halls, throne halls, religious edifices and monastery and devotional halls were superbly planned and executed to minute details. Mandalay Palace took five years to construct, from 1857 to 1861.
The palace ground is a meticulously calculated perfect square enclosed by fortified high walls, now called the Mandalay Fort. The walls are almost 2 km long on each side, and face the four cardinal directions. There are 12 gates, three on each side, marked with signs of the zodiac. Right at the centre of the palace, above the throne room, also called the Lion's Room, is a gold-plated seven-storey, 78 m (250-ft) high pyathat (tower). It is placed here, according to geomancy, so that the wisdom of the universe can be funneled directly into the king's throne to assist him in decision-making.
Outside the palace, the city itself was also laid out in blocks of squares. A canal supplies water for the moat of Mandalay Palace. The moat also serves a double purpose as a good protection from enemy assault. From the eastern moat, one can get a lovely view of Mandalay Hill in the distance.
Today the palace has been renovated and restored. It shares the ground with the Mandalay Fort, which is still occupied by the army. The museum within the palace is open Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm. A scale model of the old palace shows the location of the interior buildings, and provides a glimpse at King Mindon's concept of "centre of the world". King Mindon's mausoleum is also within the Mandalay Palace.
Entrance Fee to the Mandalay Palace is US$5 for foreigners not following a tour package.