It’s not every day that one discovers a secret monastery hidden underneath a historic tomb site… but that’s exactly what has happened in the Linzin Hill graveyard in Amarapura Township, Mandalay Division.
Archaeologists were excavating the tomb of King Uthumphon, who was brought as a prisoner of war to Mandalay Division in the 18th century, after being captured by Hsinbyushin, the third king of Burma’s Konbaung Dynasty.
In 1767, Hsinbyushin invaded Thailand’s ancient capital, Ayutthaya, and brought as many captured people back to his own capital, Ava, as possible for his army to move. The Thai king was among these people, and lived in monkhood until he died in captivity.
King Uthumphon’s life in monkhood during his captivity certainly helps to explain the monastery building hidden beneath his tomb, although archaeologists still aren’t certain whether the King actually lived there or if it was a home for other abbots.
It’s entirely possible that abbots lived there during King Bodawpaya’s reign between 1782-1819, or the building could be much, much older.
While there is still much excavation work to be done, plans are underway for a museum around Linzin Hill, and hopefully future work will shed addition light on the existence of this secret monastery underneath a king’s tomb!