We headed towards the banks of the Ayeyarwady where the fortified citadel erected by successive Burmese rulers stood.
They are said to have all followed an almost identical ancient Brahmin-Buddhist blueprint, conceived in the form of a giant sacred diagram representing the Cosmos with Mt. Neru - symbolised by the Royal Throne room at its heart.
Divided into 16 portions by straight roads the square was enclosed by 8 km of outer walls and a 64 metre wide moat with twelve gates piercing the perimeter corresponding to the twelve zodiac signs. Each is said to have been inaugurated with a human sacrifice - a total of 52 men, women and children randomly plucked from passers-by - burried under teak posts at each of the entrances to protect the Palace's most vulnerable points in the event of an attack.
The central part of the complex was the lion room where Burma's last rulers held court on a sumptuous carved and gilded throne. From its roof rose a seven tiered pyathat (tower) embellished with jewels and gold leaf. Saddly most of its treasures were looted by Pendergast's army in 1885 and what one sees today bears little resemblance to the original.
We were given access to the Throne Room, the Glass Palace and the Thibaw's cristal-pillared four-poster bed, which were nevertheless impressive, together with the Watchtower from which Queen Supalayat is said to have followed the progress of the invading British expeditionary force in 1885.
We came across a newly married couple in traditional apparel using the Royal premises and the surrounding gardens to take some pictures in, which was quite interesting.
(To be continued)