Golden Palace Monastery or also famous as Shwenandaw Monastery is a monastery where King Thibaw Min used to do meditation. King Thibaw Min was King Mindon Min's son, who built Kuthodaw Pagoda. The monastery was first built in 1878 but King Thibaw deconstructed the monastery because he thought that it was haunted by his father's spirit. He then rebuilt the monastery again and finished on October 31, 1878 in remembrance of his father. Golden Palace Monastery is famous for its teak carvings of Buddhist myth.
A Tour inside Golden Palace Monastery
1. Golden Palace Monastery Main Building
Golden Palace Monastery is very famous for its wood carving and also the architecture. The monastery was built and equipped with four tiered roof that contains sections. Each section is always smaller than the section below it. The roof line are decorated with carvings of mythological creatures, animals, dancers, and flowers. At the first level of the monastery, there is a veranda which also has carved teak on it. Some of the carved wood got broke by the time and weather and also have been replace with a new one. The tour inside the Golden Palace Monastery main building will bring you to some of the best carved panels showing the scenes from the Jataka tales, the tales about Buddha's previous life. Inside this room, you will also get to see the Buddha image with Nat spirits worshipping upon it. However, only men that can go inside to pray and worship the Buddha image.
2. Atumashi Monastery
Atumashi Monastery which is located in the same complex with Golden Palace Monastery was built by King Mindon in 1857. Atumashi Monastery or Myanmar peope called it as Maha Atulawaiyan Kyaungdawgyi has the meaning of incomparable monastery. The reason why the monastery is incomparable is because of it history as it was the last religious place that was built by King Mindon and also because of its big Buddha image inside the monastery. The Buddha image was in height around 9 meters. Not only the big Buddha image, you can also see a large diamond in the Buddha's forehead and the complete set of the Tripitaka.
3. Royal Palace
Golden Palace Monastery is one of the part of the Mandalay Palace or Royal Palace. The palace itself is located in between the 12th street and 26th street, in the heart of Mandalay city. There are also many things that you can see in the Royal Palace such as water systems, roads, gardens with shady tamarind trees, recreational playgrounds, swimming pools, mint, security ports with infantry, and many more. The Royal Palace also provides you the best scenery of Mandalay city from the southeastern corner of the palace. Surrounding the Royal Palace, you can see the Sagaing Bridge and Ayeyarwady River.
How to Get Tickets?
If you are planning to go to Golden Palace Monastery, it is recommended to get in the line as early as you can because the line in the ticket booth may be very crowded. The entrance ticket cost around seven thousand kyat or around 5 dollars. You can also buy a Mandalay archeological entrance ticket that will allowed you to enter Atumashi Monastery and other sites in the city of Mandalay. The archeological tickets are cost around fifteen thousand kyat or around 10 dollars.
How To Get Around?
To get around Golden Palace Monastery is best to go by foot because you will have a tour outdoor and you will also get to move to another place.
What Should I Wear?
To have some tour around Golden Palace Monastery, there is no fixed dress code that you need to follow. Just wear something comfortable for you to have a tour around the building. Also, wear a comfortable shoes so that you can walk around the complex in comfort.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Golden Palace Monastery is when the weather is not too hot and perfect to enjoy the sunset, between 3 pm to 6 pm. Golden Palace Monastery open every day from 8 am to 8 pm. If you need to go back from the tour by public transportation, it will be better if you look at the time for availability of it.
Will I Need a Guide?
It is okay to go have a tour on Golden Palace Monastery without guide, but if you want to know the history for each exhibition or things that displayed there, it will be very recomended to use a guide. The guided tour is available on every day but make sure you have your tickets on the right tour that you chose.
How To Get There?
If you are planning to visit Golden Palace Monastery, it is recommended to go there by car. You can go via 78th St from the center of Mandalay. It will took around 20 minutes of driving from Mandalay. The pagoda is located just East of the Mandalay Royal Palace in the North part of Mandalay, very near the Sandamuni pagoda, Atumashi monastery and Kuthodaw Pagoda.
If you are visiting Golden Palace Monastery and then continue your tour to the Royal Palace, there are some dresses of the ancient kings, queens, princes, princesses, and other ministers that are displayed. You can also wear them and take some pictures.