Bago Region

Bago was formerly known as Pegu. It is a city and the capital of Bago Region in Myanmar. It is located 80 km (about 50 miles) from Yangon. According to legend, two Mon princess from Thaton founded Bago in 573 AD. They saw a female Hinthar (a kind of a bird like a goose) standing on the back of a male Hinthar on an island in a huge lake. Thinking that this was an auspicious omen, they built a city called Hanthawaddy (PaliHamsavati) on the edge of the lake. The earliest mention of this city in history is by the Arab geographer IbnKhudadhbin around 850 AD. At the time, the Mon capital had shifted to Thaton. The area came under the rule of the Bamar from Bagan in 1056. After the collapse of Bagan to the Mongols in 1287, the Mon regained their independence.From 1369-1539, Hantharwaddy was the capital of the Mon Kingdom of Ramanadesa, which covered all of what is now lower Myanmar. The area came under Myanmar control again in 1539, when it was annexed by King Tabinshwethi to his Kingdom of Taungoo. The kings of Taungoo made Bago their royal capital from 1539-1599 and again in 1613-1634, and used it as a base for repeated invasions of Siam. As a major seaport, the city was frequently visited by Europeans, who commented on its magnificence. The Burmese capital relocated to Inwa in 1634. In 1740, the Mon revolted and briefly regained their independence, but Burmese King Alaungpaya sacked and completely destroyed the city (along with Mon independence) in 1757. Bago was rebuilt by King Bodawpaya (1782-1819), but by then the river had shifted course, cutting the city off from the sea.

The Shwemawdaw Pagoda is one of the most famous pagodas in Myanmar and located on a 50 feet high mould in Hinthagone ward of Bago. Traditions ascribes the original construction of the pagoda to two merchant brothers who enshrined two sacred hairs bestowed upon them by Buddha during His lifetime. AKingsTamala and Wimala raised the height to 81 and 88 feet respectively in 825 and 840. Successive Kings contributed towards its renovation and enlargement, and when Bodawpaya replaced a new hti (umbrella) in 1796 it attained to a height of 297 feet. The architectural interest of the pagoda lies in its having an octagonal based and elaborate multiplane projections in the lower portion. Around its base is a double range of small shrines. The pagoda was shattered by three major earthquakes in 1912, 1917 and 1930. The last tremor was so severe that a great part of the bell-shaped dome and its superstructure tumbled down, thus causing damage  to the terraces also. After the last war earnest efforts were made by the state and slightly different from the past, was completed in 1954. The height of the pagoda is now 375 feet (114 m) as the record for the tallest pagoda in Myanmar. The pagoda festival takes place 10 days every year in April, which is the Burmese month of Tagu.

The Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha Image is located in the west side of the Bago City. It is noted as the largest reclining image of Buddha, 180 feet in length and 52 feet in height, built by the Mon in 994 during the reign of Mon King Migadepa. Lying shelterless for several centuries the masonry image gradually became dilapidated and remained in a state of disrepair until Dammaceti renovated it in the 15th century. Bayinnaung also maintained it in a proper manner but later on it was neglected again and was overgrown with shrub. The image was re-discovered about 80 years ago when its sanctity and glory was restored through intensive repairs. An iron tazaung (open shed) was constructed over it in 1906, and since then the image has regained the country-wide veneration of the Buddhist populace. 

Shwethalyaung Buddha Image is located near the famous Shwethalyaung Buddha Image. It is another huge reclining Buddha image which lies in the open with no temples or pagodas surrounding it. According to local legend, every time they wanted and tried to construct a building (or) shelter over the statue, a storm brewed, preventing their efforts. Built in 2001, the statue reaches an incredible 82 m (269 ft) long. It is out in the open without any cover of any sort.

Hinthargone (Hansagone) Pagoda is one of the famous pagodas in Bago and situated on a hillock just behind the Shwemawdaw Pagoda. There is a beautiful legendary concerning with historical background of Hinthagone that a couple of Hansa-birds (Brahmani-ducks) were flying over the vast sea and rested on a tiny patch of land amid the sea. The patch was no space enough for the two hansa birds at the same time so the female bird had perched on the back of the male one. In the fullness of time, there came Thamala and Wimala to build the city of Hansavati. The tiny patch became a hillock and was knownaasHansagone means the hillock where the two hansa birds (Brahmani-ducks) perched. Nowadays, the hillock is decorated with a small shrine and a symbolic figure of the female Hamsa bird perching on the back of the male one.

The Kyaik Pun Pagoda is a small Buddhist monastery near the town of Bago, known for its four towering images of the Buddha visible from far away. The Kyaik Pun Pagoda was built in 1476 by Dhammazedi, a devout Buddhist and King of the Mon Kingdom of Hanthawaddy (Pegu). According to local legend four Mon sisters were involved in the building of the Kyaik Pun Paya. Among them they pledged never to get married as long as they lived. If one of them was to get married, one of the Buddha statues would collapse. According to the legend, one of the women broke her promise and got married, resulting in the collapse of one of the images, the Kassapa Buddha. The impressive 27 meter high images are out in the open, without shelter from the elements by any covering temple structure.The Kyaik Pun Pagoda or KyaikpunPaya is an active place of worship; the images are highly revered by Laotian Buddhists who come to pay their respect.

Mahazedi pagoda is located to the West of Shwethalyaung and in Ma-zinn Western part Bago. This pagoda was erected on the model of Mahaceti on Sri-Lanka in 1560 AD by King ABayntnaung. In the day of enshrinement of relics, the king received and auspicious news that the chief queen Raja-Devi had given the birth of a baby and entitled Raja DhaduKalyar to commemorate the grand solemnity of relic-enshrinement. After 7 years of his reign, king Bayintnaung designated 4 of Myanmar court officers and 4 of Mon commanders for the construction of a new pagoda in a style of Mahazedi pagoda at Srilanka and himself supervised the erection upto the finishing job. The construction was started in 1560 AD and lasted for 6 months. At that time, the height of the pagoda was 150 cubics, with a grand garden in the front. Now the beautiful and unique Mahazedi Pagoda is resting on a square base of about 300 feet in every side with 4 prayer-halls, rising up to a height of 333 feet with 1500 feet in circumference, surrounding of respective religious building in an area of 6 acres. The forthcoming buildings planned and designated to erect are 4 Simas or Ordination halls and double enclosure walls with arched entrances and central arches.

Sima or Ordination Halls are the essential buildings for the Buddhist Order. This KalyarniSima was built by King Dhammazeddi during the 15th Century. It was resembled the KalyaniSima of Sri Langka. This impressive hall has long served officially as the The Sacred Hall of Ordination for Theravada Buddhists. MahaKalyarniSima is restored again several times to bring it to this condition. The hall of the gold and white structure contains several statues and carved paintings representing historic scenes of the building. 10 lithic inscriptions of its vicinity recount, a detailed linkage of Myanmar and Sri-Lanka in religious affairs.

A little beyond Myanmar Mahazedi, this Myanmar Shwe Gugale Zedi has dark go around the circumference of the cylindrical superstructure. It is extremely old-looking but beautiful is the Shwegugyi Pagoda. Unlike any temples, the stupa is a circular tunnel where 64 Buddha statues are kept. The pagoda testo 1494 in the reign of Myanmar King Byinnya Yan.

The sight of some 500 monks and novices filing out in the early morning from one of the largest monasteries in Myanmar to collect alms is worth getting up early for. Visitors should visit at 10.30am to see the monks eating lunch in a giant hall. It is really a worthwhile visit.

A couple of blocks southwest of the Kanbawzathadi Palace is Bago’s quirkiest sight, Snake Monastery devoted to a Buddhist abbot from Hsipaw who was reborn in the form of a giant Burmese python. Pilgrims and tourists file through year round to pay their respects to the snake, which measures a whopping 9 metres (29ft) from head to tail and is now thought to be well over a century old.

Kanbawzathadi Golden Palace in Bago is a reconstruction of the original Royal palace from the second half of the 16th century.The very ornate golden palace gives a good impression of the splendor and wealth of the second Burmese empire. It was rebuilt following the original design, based on knowledge gained from excavations and the original drawings of the building. The huge palace consisted of 76 apartments and halls.

KanbawzaThadi, the famous palace of King Bayinnaung (1551-1581 A.D.) is being extensively excavated and some buildings are being rebuilt. King Bayintnaung was the founder of the Second Myanmar Empire, which stretched from the borders of India to parts of Thailand and Laos. In 1566 A.D, he built a new capital city called Hanthawaddy (nowadays in the Bago City). To the south of the Shwe-Maw-Daw Pagoda he built a grand palace, which he named KanbawzaThadi. Excavations at the palace site were started on 25th April 1990. The Archaeological Department has up to now excavated six mounds, which revealed the brick foundations and plinths of the old palace. Many teak pillars, some with inscriptions were also found. The SettawSaung, one of the main rooms of the palace has been reconstructed and the work is 90 percent finished. Also the main Audience Hall (the Lion Throne Room) is being rebuilt. The palace site transferred to the Archaeology Department comprises of 9,662 acres. The reconstructed 16th century palace of Hanthawaddy and the whole palace site will become a main tourist attraction in the near future.

Pyay(formerly known as Prome) is a principal town of Pyay Township in the Bago Region in Myanmar. Pyay is located on the Irrawaddy River and is 260 km (160 mi) north-west of Yangon. The British Irrawaddy Flotilla Company established the current town in the late 19th century on the Irrawaddy as a transshipment point for cargo between Upper and Lower Burma. The district of Pyay encompasses the valley of the Irrawaddy, located between Thayetmyo, Hinthada and Tharrawaddy districts. Along the western side of Pyay District are Rakhine Mountains and along the eastern side are the Bago Range. Pyay District’s main towns are Pyay, Shwedaung, and Paungde.

1. Shwesandaw Pagoda

The Shwesandaw Pagoda is well known in Pyay. Shwesandaw means the Golden Hair Relics. The Pagoda is situated on the eastern bank of Ayeyarwaddyriver and Myanmar’s most venerated structure stands here. The former name of the pagoda was known to be Mya ThiHtin. It has a height of 127 feet high and standing on the plinth making a total measurement of 290 feet from the base. There are 64 surrounding smaller pagodas around the main one. There is a chamber in the southern sector of the platform housing a duplicate of the Buddha’s tooth relic of Kandy. Having been placed beside the original tooth-relic of Kandy for a time it is believed to have absorbed the aura of the original and become just as potent. The relic from the Shwesandaw Pagoda is customarily taken out from its chamber in the month of Tazaungmone (November-December) every year and ceremoniously taken on a tour of the city once every three years so that worshippers might pay homage to it and reverse it with their own eyes.

2. SelHtatGyiPaya (10th Layer Pagoda)

Looking east from the stupa, you’ll see an enormous seated Bhudda figure rising up from the treeline. From the Shwesandaw terrace you look across to the image eye-to-eye. Sehtatgyi meaning ‘Big Ten-storey’ for its height.

3. Shwemyethman Pagoda

This Pagoda is located in Shwetaung City near Pyay. ShwemyethmanPaya meaning ‘Paya with the Golden Spectacles’ a reference to a large white face sitting Buddha image inside the main shrine. The Buddha image wears a golden rimmed spectacles. Spectacles were added during the Konbaung era. There is a saying that this image can cure illnesses especially for eyes.

4. Shwenattaung Pagoda

ShwenattaungPaya means ‘Golden Spirit Mountain’. This pagoda dates back to the Sriksetra era. Legend takes it back all the way to 283 BC from which it was reconstructed by a long range of Burman kings with the aid of local nats (spirits) A large pagoda festival is held here each year on the full moon of Tabaung (February/March).

Sari Ksertra (Thayekhittaya in Myanmar), one of the ancient Pyu capitals of Myanmar, lies five miles south-east of Pyay on the left bank of the Ayeyarwaddy and about 18- miles north-west of Yangon. The founding of the city is popularly attributed to the reign of Duttaabaung as early as the 101st year of religion, that is, some two thousand four hundred years ago. Archaeological discoveries indicate that this city attained its height of prosperity between the fifth and ninth centuries. The city is roughly circular in shape. It is encompassed by a high fort wall of large baked bricks, the circumference being eight and a half miles. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2014, the site is centred on the remains of the royal palace and although not much remains of the original city, there are a number of tombs, palaces, pagodas and other religious sites to explore – including the huge, cylindrical, brick-built Baw BawGyi Pagoda, said to be the oldest Buddhist monument in Myanmar; the Rahanta Cave Pagoda; the Lay MyetHna monument; and the a.

1. BawbawgyiPaya and BebePaya

South of the Sri Ksetra Archaeological Museum and outside of the city walls, there are cylindrical BawbawgyiPaya and cube-shaped BebePaya. Standing over 45 meters high. the brick and plaster of BawbawgyiPaya is the oldest stupas in the area. Other cube-shaped pagodas in the area include one thought to have been used by a hermit. featuring eight Buddha reliefs along the lower half of the interior wall and a vaulted ceiling of brick. BelBel Pagoda.

Akauk Mountain is situated near the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River between the southernmost part of Pyay District and northern most part of Hinthada District can be reached by boat from Pyay. Ancient Buddha Images Carved in Stone Walls of Akauk Mountain. It is believed that those Buddha Images are carved since many years ago. Artistic craftsman who travelled along the River while doing their business has carved these. It is one of the amazing places where many Buddha Images were carved on the mountain site, near the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River. Akauk Mountain has green forest cover and it is very pleasant place.This mountain is the auspicious land, filled with historic ShweMyintin Pagoda as well as other pagodas and religious edifies. Moreover, there are ravines, gorges, streams and natural scenic beauty for visitors for relaxation and recreation.

Moe Yun Gyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary is renowned for its waterbirds and migratory birds. It is located between Bago township and Waw township in Bago division, 70 miles (2 hours drive) from Yangon. It is 40 sq miles and was established in 1988. A shallow rectangular man-made water storage reservoir was constructed here in 1904. The major inflows are from Pyin Bon chaung( creek ), Wan Bei Inn chaung, and Phayalaychaung. The majors outflows are to Zwebatchaung, and Kabinchaung. Two sluices in the eastern bank drain water to the Sittaungriver. Visitors can do activities like Conservation, education, and research works on the ecological system of the wetland; Watching the water birds and migratory birds; Taking a boat trip around the wetland; and Meeting the local communities and learning about their way of life.

Pho Kyar forest resort is situated at foot-hill of BagoYoma mountain ranges lies within the SaingYa tropical reserved forests, 10 miles away from west of Tharagaya near the Yoma crossing road. Thargaya, the main gate way is on the Yangon Mandalay motorway, 204 miles away from Yangon. The Resort has emerged as the ideal eco-tourism spot has been having a special privilege of occupying a prime location. The camp is surrounded by a stream running in zigzag way within the area and fragrance of wild orchids, plants and trees in seasonal flowers. And also sound of birds will get into fascinating atmosphere. The Stream supplies an abundance of water for local residents and provides a bathing place for elephants.

Phokyar Ecotourism forest has natured teak plantations in 1898. There are also numerous 100 years old huge teak trees. The teak trees are now breast high girth of 5 feet to 8 feet each. The beautiful and shady teak trees can give a peaceful, quiet and a pleasant scenario for tourist attraction. The Thaing creek, flowing windingly like in (s) shape, is near the resort. There is also a suspension bridge over it. There is an opportunity to visit elephant village where you can learn and see the Mahaut, elephant driver, communicate with their respective elephants how instinctive and natural inborn tendency between elephants and human beings.

It is located at 175 miles from Yangon on Yangon-Mandalay road. Taungoo (Kaytumadi City) was founded by King Mingyinyo in 1510 A.D and later innovated by King MinyeKyawhtin. All the four sides of the city wall are still very conspicuously seen, with the exception of the part of the southern wall. The wall is built of bricks. The moat surrounding the city is dried up, except in some of its sections on the eastern side, where it is purposely kept and properly maintained. About 6.4 m from the wall city is the first moat filled with soft mud, which is about 9.6 m wide. It is one of the main gateways to BagoYoma and its teak forests and is worth exploring. It derives much of its importance these days from the timber trade and the teak forests on which its economy depends visibly seen on the mountain ranges lying to the east and west of the town beckon visitors. Even its ancient empire has long since crumbled; Taungoo remains an important pilgrimage site for Buddhist devotees who flock regularly to Shwesandaw pagoda.

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