Around Yangon

Pathein Bago
Thanlyin & Kyauktan Pyay

Bago is only 80 kilometer and about 1 hour drive from Yangon. Bago is one of the richest archaeological sites in Myanmar. Pyay lies 161 kilometers north of Yangon. The ancient ruins of the Pyu capital. Srikeshtra. lies in this city. Pathein well-known for the colorful Parasol.

Thanlyin and Kyauktan

Thanlyin is situated at the confluence of the Yangon and Bago Rivers; to be exact. on the southern bank of the Bago River. To the south of Thanlyin is a ridge named Utaringa Kon in history but locally known as Shin Mwe Nun Kon. It is on this ridge that Kyaik Khauk Pagoda stands.

The colonial town of Syriam was built by the British for it's port and petroleum refinery plant. It is also a sub-urban town right a few miles away from Yangon. across 1.5 mile-long bridge

 

Interesting Places

 

Kyaik Kauk Pagoda

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The Kyaik Kauk Pagoda is built on a hillock on the road to Kyauk Tan. It is an imposing golden stupa similar to the Shwe Dagon pagoda.

Thanlyin formerly known as Syriam is just across the river. spanned by one of the longest bridges in Myanmar. A half-an-hour's drive by car or train.

History of Kyaik Kauk

Pagoda Its legend dates its building far back to the time of Emperor Asoka the great king of India. Two hundred and thirty six years after the demise of the Lord Buddha. Emperor Asoka who embraced Buddhism after he heard and understood the Buddha’s dhamma. held the Third Buddhist Council. Maha Thera Ashim Moggalana Putta Tisa presided over the Council. At his advice. the Council with the royal patronage and support of Asoka sent out religious missions to nine places and nine countries to spread the Dhamma. Buddha’s Teachings. The mission sent to Suvannabhumi [Thaton] was headed by Maha Theras Sona and Uttara who successfully carried out their missionary works there. One of their pupils and assistants Ashin Somaga was sent on a mission to Pauk-khara-wady or Dagon. He resided at this place and visited Let-kha-ya and Siha islands and propagated the Buddha’s teachings there. A hermit named Khaw Laka who lived on Utaringa Kon. after hearing the Dhamma became a bhikkhu. Later Ashin Somaga and Bhikkhu Kaw Laka went to Pataliputra in India and requested Emperor Asoka to give them some sacred relics of the Buddha for worship. They received 24 strands of the Buddha’s hair. They returned to Siha Island and when they reached the Pada jetty. they left two sacred hairs to be enshrined in a pagoda built there. Later these hairs were re-enshrined in a pagoda now know as Kyaik DeiYa.

The remaing hair relies were enshrined each in one pagoda at each of 16 Villages such as

(1) Ta Hmaw Village
(2) Ka Lun Pun Village
(3) Ka Hnein Village
(4) Ka Hnaw Village
(5) Mon Naw Village
(6) Tha Laing Village
(7) Hmaw Wun Village
(8) Kan Ti Village
(9) Kha Pi Village
(10) Tha Naw Kaik Village
(11) Ah Lwei Eake Village
(12) Pa Wun Gai Village
(13) Pa Yin Village
(14) Wi Thone Village
(15) Pa Ro Village
(16) Than Hlyin Village [Saga Village]

and the remaing six hairs were enshrined in a pagoda built on Utaringa Kon [now called Hlaing Pok Kon].

The pagoda on Utaringa Kon was built by King Cula Thirimasoka of Thaton in the Buddhist Era 241. It was a big structure built of laterite stone. Because this place was where Ashin Bhikkhu Kaw Laka resided. the Pagoda came to be known as Kaw Laka Pagoda. This name in course of time corrupted to Khauk Pagoda or Kyaik Khauk in Mon.

Ye Le Paya

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Ye Le Paya at Kyauk Tan means the pagoda in mid-stream built on a laterite reef. It was built by King Zeyasana. the seventh king of the Pada Dynasty in the third century BC. The first pagoda was only 11 feet high. The pagoda complex comprises several buildings including a monastery. Pilgrims and visitors are ferried across to the pagoda. One can feed shoals of long river catfish. which surface to snatch tit-bits of food thrown at them. When food is thrown. they reach out to snap at it. revealing their size. which can reach up to one meter in length.

National Races Village

The National Races Village is an interesting place for both local and foreign visitors.

Bago

Bago was formerly known as Pegu. It is just 80 km (50 miles) north of Yangon. It is just about an hour drive from Yangon. Bago is accessible easily from Yangon. Mandalay. Pyay and other cities.

Bago is one of the richest archaeological sites in Myanmar. Apparently Mons were the first to settle at this site. Two Mon brothers Thamala and Wimala from Thaton. first founded the city about 825 A.D. In 13th century A.D. The site. which was then on the Gulf of Martaban. had already been earmarked as the location of a great city by Gautama. the historic Buddha. Bago was made the capital of the Mon Kingdom and it came to be known as Hansavati (Hanthawaddy). It was also the seaport of ancient Mon kings. Then it became the Second Myanmar Empire founded by King Bayinnaung.

Travel Tips

  • Accessible by car. Only about 2 hours drive from Yangon.
  • There are also express buses carrying passengers everyday. Click to see the map of this destination


Click here to see the Map of Bago

Interesting Places

Shwe-tha-lyaung Reclining Buddha

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Built by the Mon in 994 this big Buddha was restored several times but was overgrown by the jungle after the total destruction of Bago by the Burmans in 1757. The 55 meter long and 16 meter high reclining Buddha is well known in Bago. It was rediscovered in 1880 and restored again several times to bring it to this condition. This huge reclining Buddha with a sign on the platform in front of the image giving the measurements of each body part. It is reputed to be one of the most lifelike of all reclining Buddhas. The Myanmar people say that the image represents Buddha in a 'relaxing' mode.
Measurements of the reclining Buddha Image
Height at the shoulder is 52.5 feet (16m). Extent of the face is 22.5feet (6.9m). Lengthwise dimension of the throat is 7.5 feet (2.3m). Length of the upper torso is 47.5 feet (14.5m). Length of the ear is 15 feet (4.6m). Length of the eyebrows is 7.5 feet (2.3m). Width of the mouth is 7.5 feet (2.3m). Width of each eye is 3.5feet (1.1m). Bridge of the nose is 7.5 feet (2.3m). Length of the sole of the foot is 25.5 feet (7.8m). Dimension of the palm lengthwise is 22 feet (6.7m). Height of the big toe is 6 feet (1.8m).

Travel Tips

Opening Hours - 4am to 9pm
Opening days -  Daily
Admission Fees - US$ 2

Shwemawdaw Pagoda

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The Shwemawdaw or 'Great Golden God Pagoda' of Bago has been growing for more than 1000 years. The Shwemawdaw Pagoda whose spire can be seen behind this impressive entrance portal. was originally built by the Mon to a height to 23 meters in the 8th century and was rebuilt higher several times until it finally reached its present 114 meter stature in 1954. The pagoda was originally built by 2 merchants. Taphussa and Bhalita. to house some hair relics of the Buddha. Originally built to a height of 23 meters. it has over the centuries become the tallest of the Burmese pagodas. As with other pagodas. this growth in size occurred during numerous reconstruction periods. usually following great earthquakes. The most recent quake. in 1930. nearly leveled the ancient structure and it was not until 1952 that it again dominated the Bago skyline. Legends say that enshrined beneath the towering pagoda are the hairs and teeth of the Buddha. Because of these relics. Shwemawdaw is visited by throngs of Buddhist pilgrims during all hours of the day and night.

Travel Tips

Opening Hours - 4am to 9pm
Opening days -  Daily
Admission Fees - US$ 2

Kyaik Pun Buddha Images

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Kyaik Pun Pagoda is in the form of four gigantic Buddha images all in sitting posture facing the four cardinal points of the compass. They are seated back to back against a massive brick pillar. This unusual and impressive pagoda is only a few hundred feet off the Yangon-Bago road. It was built by King Dhamma Zedi in 1476 A.D. They are kept in a fair state of preservation. Kyaik Pun pagoda is situated amidst the lush rugged countryside strewn with a large number of ancient ruins many of which are under repair. According to a legend four mon sisters were connected with the construction of the images. It was said that if one of them marry. one of the Buddha would collapse.

Travel Tips

Opening Hours - 4am to 9pm
Opening days -  Daily
Admission Fees - US$ 2

Mahazedi

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There are many other famous pagodas in Bago. like the Mahazedi (the Great Stupa) built by King Bayinnaung in 1560 A.D.. and Hinthakone Pagoda. which you should see.

It is known that the pagoda enshrines a tooth-relic brought from Sri Lanka. Tradition has it that Hinthakone is the hill where the two sacred mythical ducks called Hintha (Hamsa) alighted. when only the very top of the hill was above the ocean.

The name Hantha-wadi or Hamsavati by which Bago and her kingdom were known. originated from this name.

Travel Tips

Opening Hours - 4am to 9pm
Opening days -  Daily
Admission Fees - US$ 2

Mya Thar Lyaung Buddha Image

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Mya-thar-lyaung buddha image is located next to the famous Shwe-thar-lyaung buddha image. It is another giant reclining Buddha image.

Hinthargone Pagoda

Just behind the Shwemawdaw Pagoda. It has good views over Bago from the hilltop. Believed to be the tiny-spot of legendary source. that hillock is decorated with small shrine and the symbolic figure of the female Hansa bird perching on the back of the male one.

Travel Tips

Opening Hours - 4am to 9pm daily
Opening days - Daily
Admission Fees - US$2 per person

Kanbawza Thadi Palace

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Kanbawza Thadi. the famous palace of King Bayinnaung (1551-1581 A.D.) is being extensively excavated and some buildings are being rebuilt. King Bayinnaung 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 Hanthawadi on what is now Bago. To the south of the Shwe-Maw-Daw Pagoda he built a grand palace. which he named Kanbawza Thadi.

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 Settaw Saung. 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 Hanthawadi and the whole palace site will become a main tourist attraction in the near future.

Travel Tips

Opening Hours - 9am to 5pm daily
Opening days - Daily
Admission Fees - US$4 per person

Shwegugale

This zedi dates back to 1494 and the reign of King Byinnya Yan. while it looks fairly modern. It features a dark gu (tunnel) with 64 seated Buddha images inside.

Kalyarni Sima

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The essential building for Buddhist Order is no doubt that of Sima or Ordination Hall. It is one of the Simas built by King Dhammazeddi in 15 century. The remarkable fact is that it was erected in the form of Kalyarni Sima at Sri-Lanka and 10 lithic inscriptions of its' vicinity recount a detailed intercourse of Myanmar and Sri-Lanka in religious affairs.

Travel Tips

Opening Hours - 9am to 5pm daily
Opening days - Daily
Admission Fees - US$4 per person

Pathein

In the lower Myanmar delta area which we call the Ayeyarwady Division there is a coastal town by the name of Pathein. In the colonial days the British called it Bassein. It lies on the Gnawun river bank and is 75 miles away from the sea. The distance between Pathein (Bassein) and Yangon is 191 miles (by rail). The precise location of it is 16.45 N and 94.48 E. Regarding this Bassein of the bygone era Hobson-Jobson noted.

Centuries ago Pathein was known as Cosmin. Ralph Fitch. the first recorded British traveller who visited Myanmar between 1586 and 1588 called it Cosmin. Some authorities argued that this word Cosmin was a corruption of two Mon words kaw and thamein. The word kaw signifies an island and thamein a prince.
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Pieced together it becomes prince island and the Myanmar call it minthakyun. To quote Hobson-Jobson again Cosmin is given by many travellers in the 16th and 17th centuries to a port on the western side of the Ayeyarwaddy delta which must have been near Bassein if not identical with it.

In the mid-sixteenth century Bassein. like Dagon (later Yangon) was an insignificant port. These two ports could not measure up to Thanlyin (Cirion or Syriam). Dalla. Mottama (Martaban) and Bago (Pegu) which were noteworthy ports in those days. At that time Bassein was just a minor port and hardly conducted any important overseas trade transactions.

The origin of the Indian town of Bassein has much to do with the growth of Portuguese imperialism. The starting point was 1498. the year Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to the east. From then on Portuguese ships began to enter the Pacific Ocean through the Straits of Malacca. Within a short time Portugal became an imperial power. This was the beginning of the encounter between Europe and Asia.

Pathein Today Pathein is the capital of the deltaic region. This port of call is reached by road. or by double deckers through the complex Ayeyarwady river deltaic region. The landscapes are all full of rice producers with crops such as sesames. groundnuts. jute. maize. pulses. tobacco. chilies. etc. Parasol production is synonymous with Pathein.
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Pathein is still an important port of call for ferryboats carrying passengers or cargo plying between Yangon and the northern and eastern parts of the Myanmar. So it has a rather busy harbor area. which is fronted by a crescent of shop houses and go-downs. Rice from the delta region continues to be exported through the port of Pathein.

Some 300.000 people live in Pathein. which was established in 1852 as a garrison town by the British. Although the majority are ethnic Bamars (formerly Burmans) and mainly Buddhist. there is a significant number of Kayin (formerly Karen) who are either Catholics or members of the Karen Baptist Church. These are mainly lowland farming Karen who were encouraged by the British to move form Karen state in eastern Myanmar to help settle the delta region. which was in need of rice farmers.

Travel Tips

  • Accessible by car. Only about 3 hours drive from Yangon.
  • There are also express buses carrying passengers everyday.

Around Pathein

 

Mawtinson Pagoda

 

It is the most famous pagoda in Pathein. If you follow the Pathein River till it empties into the Adman Sea you’ll reach Cape Mawtin (Mawtinson). site of a well-known festival during the lunar month of Tabodwe (February. March). On the seaside of the Cape is a sandy beach and the revered Pagoda Maw Tin Son. It is very surprising to note that the pagoda is water-logged all the year round except in the days of the annual festival. The seawater is out well beyond the pagoda during the festival and lots of stalls dealing with all sorts of local products. seafood. ornaments. made of seashells. and lodging houses. built of bamboo for the revellers mushroom on the beach. Once the festival is over. the water is up and covered the beach. It seems that the pagoda is located on the sea.

From Pathein. there are roads to the popular beaches of Myanmar. Chaung Thar Beach and Ngwe Saung Beach. From Pathein. it will take only about 3 hours drive through the mountains and to the beautiful beaches.

Pyay

Pyay was formerly known as Prome. Pyay is an important commercial center for trade between the Ayeyarwady Delta. Central and Upper Myanmar and the Rakhine (Arakan) State. Pyay is only 161 km north of Yangon travelling along a well-maintained highway by car. You can see green paddy fields along the side of the highway. Several trains run daily from Yangon on the first railway line built in Myanmar in 1877. In the last few years the railway branch lines have been extended north towards Bagan. It is a city halfway between Yangon and Bagan. Visitors can stop over in Pyay and travel on to Bagan and Mandalay. Pyay is situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River on a lovely location.

Pyay was anglicized as Prome after the Second Anglo-Myanmar war and in ancient times was known as Thaye-khittra (Srikshetra). Srikshetra. the ancient Pyu capital about five miles to the east. is interesting place to visit because of their historical importance and archaeological sites.
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Interesting Places

Interesting Places in Pyay are Shwesandaw Pagoda. Sehtetgyi Pagoda (the gigantic sitting Buddha image). Baw Baw Gyi Pagoda. Be Be Gyi Pagoda and Payama Pagoda. Other interesting places around pyay are Ahkauktaung. Shwe Myatman Paya. Shwe Nat Taung Pagoda and Shwe Bonthar Muni.

Srikshetra Ancient Days

An ancient 'Pyu' Capital lies 8 km south-east of Pyay ( Prome). is located about 285 km north-west of Yangon. Archaeological discoveries indicate that the city attained its height of prosperity between the 5th and 9th centuries. In Tha-ye-khit-taya. one will find palace site the prototype of Bagan vaulted temple such as Lemyethna and East Zegu. the cylinder-shaped Bawbawgyi Pagoda. Payagyi and Payama stupas each with a high conical dome and the Archaeological Museum.

Shwesandaw Pagoda

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The Shwesandaw Pagoda is well known in Pyay. Shwesandaw meaning the Golden Hair Relics. The Pagoda is situated on the eastern bank of Ayeyarwaddy river and Myanmar’s most venerated structure stands here. The former name of the pagoda was known to be Mya Thi Htin. 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 tooth-relic from the Shwesandaw Pagoda is customarily taken out from its chamber in the month of Dazaungmone (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 revere it with their own eyes.

Sehtatgyi Paya

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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.

Museum

About a kilometer and a half from the highway turnoff by the old palace side. stands a small museum and a map of the area. Inside the museum is a colletion of artifacts collected from Srikshetra exacavations.

Bawbawgyi Paya and Bebe Paya

South of the museum. outside the city walls. are cylindrical Bawbawgyi Paya and cube-shaped Bebe Paya. Standing over 45 meters high. the brick and plaster of Bawbawgyi Paya is the oldest stupa 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. Accessible by car. Only about 6 hours drive from Yangon. There are also express buses carrying passengers everyday.

Around Pyay

Shwedaung

This small town is about 14km south of Pyay. There are two famous pagodas in this town. The Shwemyethman Paya and the Shwenattaung Paya.

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Shwemyethman Paya meaning 'Paya with the Golden Spectacles' a refrence 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.

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Shwenattaung Paya 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).

Akauktaung Mountain

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Akauktaung Mountain stands on the bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River to the north of Pyay in Bago Division. It takes 15 minutes by boat ride to reach the Akauktaung. Different sizes and styles of Buddha images are carved into the wall of the bank and the visitor can climb and visit the Akauktaung pagoda. which lies at the top of the bank.

Paung Te

From Yangon. on the way to Pyay. you will come across Paung Te. The sacred tooth relic of Buddha is enshrined in the Paung Te Swedaw Seddi.

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