Just to the east of the Atumashi Kyaung near the base of Mandalay Hill is Shwenandaw Kyaung (Golden Palace Monastery). It is a wooden structure made of teak. This building was originally part of the royal palace complex of King Mindon. Originally, the whole palace complex was from Amarapura (near Mandalay) which was the former capital city of Upper Burma. This whole palace complex was dismantled and carried to the royal palace compound in Mandalay, to reassemble in its current place.
King Mindon, during the last days of his life, actually lived in this building and was reportedly died in this building. His successor, King Thibaw, dismantled the building and reassembled outside the walls of the royal palace compound, and finally donated to the Order of Sangha (Buddhist Monks) in 1880. According to a popular legend, King Mindon’s spirit was haunting the building, and King Thibaw decided to donate the building so as to release the spirit of his father. King Thibaw used to use this building for meditation and the couch he once used can still be seen in the monastery. This building is the only one left of the original royal palace complex as all the other buildings were destroyed during the bombardment of the Mandalay Fort (Fort Dufferin) in 1945.
Shwenandaw Kyaung monastery showed the fine art of traditional Burmese art and woodcraft. The whole building is covered both inside and outside with carved panels. Many carved panels outside the monastery building were badly damaged by the weather over many years. However, carved panels inside the building are still in excellent condition, especially the ten Jataka (past life stories of Gautama Buddha).
Structurally, the whole building is a magnificent multi-tiered teak wooden structure with four sepatate “Zeitawun” roof levels. The whole building was originally decorated with gilded gold but all are gone due to bad weather and only a few gold coverings can be seen inside the monastery.
Editor’s Note: Many of the above information has been obtained from our reference book Lonely Planet Guide to Myanmar (Burma)