Thapyaytan Fortress at the side of the Ava Bridge, Mandalay.

Thapyaytan Fortress, Mandalay

Thapyaytan Fortress, Mandalay

The following is a precis of the insuction tablet found in the fort. “The Thapyatan fortress is located at the east of the Ayeyarwady River, and north of the Dotehtawadi River, where there were two villages, Thapyaytan Ywa-ma and Thapyaytan Ywa-galay. Built on the orders of King Mindon, construction was assisted by Comoto Peree (sic) and Mole Nari(sic) of the Italian Navy and the cooperation of Myanmar engineers. Construction started in 1874 and finished in 1878.
The fort is 400 feet long from east to west, with a breadth of 352 feet at the south and 492 feet at the north. It has three tiered brick walls with the inner brick wall being 20 feet high. The northern gate is 16 feet 6 inches wide.

There is an open grotto about 62 feet long and a brick stair 78 feet long and 14.6 inches wide for entry into the inner fort.

There was an exit at the north side of the fortress but this was blocked during the construction of the Mandalay- Myitkyina railway.

Tunnels and ammunition storage

From the centre of the fort there are tunnels used as entrance gates, three at the south and eight at the west. They are 9 feet high and 6 feet wide.

 The station camps ( 5 feet wide) are located in the inner court and are 85 feet apart. There is a tunnel connecting them and also an exit tunnel to reach the outside walls. A 6 foot high passage has been located in the fortress.
This fortress was used by the patriotic Myanmar who steadfastly fought against British might during the Anglo- Burmese war of 1885.”

The war boat

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The British invasion of 1885

The British flotilla’s advance up the Irrewaddy in 1885 was over 5 miles long. On the 14th November the steamers Kathleen and Irrawaddy came upon one of the Burmese King’s steamers with it’s attendant flat barges. Burmese shore batteries opened fire and this was returned with raking machine gun fire from the Irrewaddy, causing many of the crews of the steamer and on the flats to abandon ship.

A wet end to long careers of building fortifications

Among these were two Italian officers, Molinari and Camotto, and when the latter leapt overboard he left some military drawings, a diary and some letters. A week before he had written in a letter: ” To me is entrusted the great and ardous task of closing the river Irrewaddy, the great and only communication of the country. Molinari is entrusted with the fortresses etc. ( from Military Proceedings, Burmah. 1885-6). By the time the British flotilla arrived before this fortress it had already been told to surrender, and it was disarmed by Col. Sladen, formerly resident in Mandalay and now political officer to the British Commander General Prendergast. Sladen then advanced to to the palace where on being the only initial individual allowed into the palace, he negotiated the surrender of King Thibaw.

The magnificent war barge

The interior of the war barge

The interior of the war barge

Thibaw’s army dispersed and many of the generals and troops kept up several spirited but often disorganised resistance actions against the British for several years.

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Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Burma, Day Trip, Myanmar, Remembrance Tour, Specials, Tours 2 Comments

2 Responses to Thapyaytan Fortress at the side of the Ava Bridge, Mandalay.

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