Restoration Work Resumes on Siamese King’s Tomb in Mandalay

By Zarni Mann 21 April 2016

Mandalay—Restoration work on Siamese King Uthumphon’s tomb, located near U Bein bridge in Mandalay, will resume after a two-year hiatus.

The work was stalled in March 2014 by an order from the Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC), which had plans to transform the four-acre venue into a park. Mandalay’s divisional government gave the green light for work to resume on Friday.

Following pledged donations from influential abbot Sittagu Sayardaw, the ex-chief minister of Mandalay Ye Myint approved the work in March 2016, before handing over his duties to his successor.

“We can only resume work now; we had to do a lot of preparation involving technicians from Thailand,” said Win Maung, an author and architect who will lead an excavation team to conserve King Uthumphon’s tomb.

According to the team, which consists of Burmese and Thai archeologists, historians and experts, it is financially backed by the Thai Royal Treasury and has been provided an initial budget of 40 million baht (over US$1.1 million), and a projected six-month timeline.

Previously, the excavation team had requested that authorities grant the four-acre Linzin Hill, which houses the tomb, for the creation of a historic park.

After being halted in 2014, the area was fenced by MCDC for their proposed recreational park projects. Some parts of the 150-foot ancient brick road, which connected the tomb, the monastery and the palace of Amarapura, had been destroyed. The area was enclosed with brick walls, and Linzin Hill was deserted among bushes and trash, which the excavation team now has to clear.

“Although some parts of the ancient brick road and buildings were destroyed, we will do our best to make this a historic area and to preserve the tomb and the pagodas without affecting their original structure,” said Win Maung. “We also need to clean all the trash, which makes this a nasty place.”

According to Burmese history, King Uthumphon was captured by the Burmese King Hsinbyushin [1763–1776] during the invasion of Thailand’s ancient capital of Ayutthaya in 1767, and brought to Mandalay from Thailand as a prisoner of war. He later died in monkhood during his captivity and was buried at Linzin Hill.

Linzin Hill, the tomb ruins, and nearby pagodas on the edge of Taungthaman Lake in Mandalay Division’s Amarapura Township, are all tourist attractions, especially for Thai visitors.

“If this project is finished and the historic park becomes neat and tidy, I believe it will be more convenient for tourists and strengthen the relationship between Thailand and Burma as well,” said Win Maung.