Mandalay, Mingun Pahtodawgyi Pagoda • Myanmar

Step into the enigmatic world of Mandalay, Myanmar, with a less-than-4-minute video that unravels the tale of King Bodawpaya's unfinished masterpiece—the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda. Conceived as a 150-meter towering stupa, only a fraction—50 meters—ever materialized. This unfinished relic is more than just an ambitious project; it's a window into a megalomaniac king's mind. Thousands of prisoners and slaves were marshaled to erect this marvel, only for it to be halted by a chilling prophecy. Explore how history, legend, and architecture intermingle in this one-of-a-kind monument that continues to captivate visitors today.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Myanmar • Burma (EN)

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Reading the text below will help you better understand the historical context of the sites shown in this video.

When the madness of grandeur, and in this case one can wonder if that of grandeur is really the only one, strikes the leaders of a country, no one knows where it will end.

Mingun Pahtodawgyi Pagoda

King Bodawpaya ordered the construction of a gigantic stupa on the edge of the Irrawaddy, a few kilometers north of Mandalay (or rather Amarapura, since Mandalay was only to be created a few decades later) in 1790. .

The Mingun Pahtodawgyi Pagoda north of Mandalay is unfinished. Of the 150 meters in height initially planned, only 50 were built.

King Bodawpaya was very belligerent and very eager to expand his empire. War was one of his favorite activities. And he used to bring back a lot of prisoners of war and slaves from his expansionist campaigns.

These prisoners and slaves were therefore put to work to build this architectural madness.

The construction work cost enormous human lives (prisoners of war and slaves) but was also a financial pit for the state and taxes kept increasing which caused serious discontent in the kingdom.

To suggest that the king abandon the work, a prophecy spread that the kingdom would collapse the day the pagoda was completed. The king not wanting to see his country disappear, he decided to slow down the work.

As of the death of the king, the works were definitively abandoned.

An earthquake at the end of the 19th century gave it the look we know today ...

about the place, Mandalay:

Located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay is Myanmar's second city after Yangon (Rangoon). Founded in 1857 by King Mindon, Mandalay became the capital of the Konbaung dynasty in place of Amarapura.

It was also the last royal capital of Burma before annexation by the British in 1885. However, it remained a leading commercial and cultural center during the British era.

The city was devastated during the conquest of Burma by Japan in World War II and it became part of the newly independent Union of Burma in 1948.


Spoken comments in the film: 

This eerie gate is located at the back of this no less ominous unfinished pagoda by the Irrawaddhy River north of Mandalay.

This pagoda is the result of an excessive royal ambition. King Bodawpaya ordered the construction of the pagoda in 1790 and used thousands of prisoners of war and slaves to build a huge pagoda that was to reach 150 meters high.

The prisoners and the slaves were not the only ones to suffer from this pharaonic project. Taxes were considerably increased and the state coffers suffered greatly from this construction.

The king was extremely superstitious and all that was needed was a prophecy that the day the pagoda was completed, the land would immediately disappear. So the king decided to slow down the work because he did not want his country to disappear. And upon his death, the work was abandoned. The pagoda had reached 50 meters high, a third of what was expected.

An earthquake in 1839 damaged it by creating large cracks still visible today. It is probably these cracks that explain the great tourist craze for this unfinished monument.

At the entrance of the pagoda, a huge brick lion also destroyed by the earthquake, but what remains is a dream.



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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of burmese traditional music in "Mandalay, Mingun Pahtodawgyi Pagoda • Myanmar", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.

one of the pagoda entrances, Mandalay • Myanmar
Pahtodawgyi pagoda seen from the river, Mandalay • Myanmar

Pahtodawgyi pagoda seen from the river

Entrance to the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda site, Mandalay • Myanmar

Entrance to the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda site

main entrance to Pahtodawgyi Pagoda, Mandalay • Myanmar

main entrance to Pahtodawgyi Pagoda

back of Pahtodawgyi pagoda, Mandalay • Myanmar

back of Pahtodawgyi pagoda

Mandalay, Myanmar

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