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Teak raft in Sittaung River, Bago

Bago(Pegu) is just 80 km(50 miles) north of Yangon. Apparently Mons was 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. Bago was made the capital of the Mon Kingdom and it came to be known as Hansavati (Hanthawaddy). Bago today is the capital of Bago Division, one of the 14 States and Divisions that constitute the Union of Myanmar.


Economy and Industry

Bago is famous for its cheroot industry. Different brands of cheroot are available there. Other products are rice, salt, dried fish and various handicrafts.

How to get there


Bago can be reached by car or by train from Yangon. The journey takes just an hour and a half. A newly widened six-land highway is now complete, with factories, cafes, hotels, golf courses and other facilities along the way. Air-conditioned buses now ply this route. On the road are good restaurants and cafes like "Dollar" motel where visitors can take rides on horse-drawn carriages and bullock carts around a lovely lake.

Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda

Famous pagodas worth visiting, among others, are the Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda, the Shwe Tha Lyaung Pagoda and the Mahasedi Pagoda. The height of the Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda is actually a little higher than the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Legendary history says that both Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda and Shwedagon Pagoda are from the time of the Buddha, i.e. about 2,540 years old. Similar to the Shwedagon Pagoda this greatly venerated pagoda was first built by two merchants, in this legend named Mahasala and Cullasala, who brought back from India, two sacred hairs bestowed by the Buddha to enshrine therein.

ShweMawDaw Pagoda

The Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda is of architectural interest as it has an octagonal base with elaborate multiplane projections in the lower portion, which is quite old. Bago is in an earthquake-prone zone and the top part of the pagoda collapsed each time during three major earthquakes in 1912, 1917 and 1930. Reconstruction with an earthquake-proof structure from the bell-shaped dome to the finial "umbrella", was completed only in April 1954. Visitors can see in the Pagoda Museum a number of ancient Buddha images of stone and bronze found in the damaged top part of the pagoda after the earthquakes.

Visitors and devotees throng to the Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda Festival, which is usually held in the month of April.

Shwe Tha Lyaung Pagoda
, the Golden Reclining Image

ShweThaLyaung Pagoda

The next religious edifice you should certainly see while you are in Bago is the large reclining image of the Buddha, 180 feet in length and 52.5 feet in height. This is one of the largest reclining Buddha images in the world.

Traditionally believed to have been built by King Migadipa in AD 944. It was restored by Ramadhipatiraja (1472-1492) but later'lost' and recovered from the jungle in the 1880s by an Indian contractor called Nalahi, who proceeded to dig up the bricks. He was promptly stopped by Buddhists, who restored the image. Unfortunately, it has lost its original Mon features. (see photo below). The image was restored in 1881. Its official name is Shin Bin Tha Lyaung but it is popularly known as Shwe Tha Lyaung "the golden reclining image".


ShweThaLyaung Pagoda before renovation in 1880

It has been renovated and covered with a large prayer shed (Aryan Khan Tazaung) with lovely glass mosaic work on parts of the image. On both sides of the main approach leading to the stairway of the pagoda are the souvenir shops, mainly run by the local Mon and Myanmar people, where beautiful lacquerware, wood, straw and shell artifacts can be bought at cheap prices.

Footprints of Shwe Tha Lyaung Pagoda, the Golden Reclining Image

Footprints of Shwe Tha Lyaung Pagoda, the Golden Reclining Image


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. Tradition has it that Hinthakone is the hill where the two sacred mythical ducks called nintha (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.

Hanthawadi Palace

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.

Hanthawadi Palace in Bago

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.

There is also an interesting archaeological museum on the excavation site. There is also a famous teaching monastery, a Pariyatti University called Kya Khat Waing, on 7 acres of land with about 636 monks and monk students, which is well worth visiting.

For people who wish to have a glimpse of the traditional way of Myanmar life, Bago is an ideal place to visit. People are seen going about their business in a simple and peaceful way unspoiled by the urbanity of metropolitan life./span>
where to stay in Bago!
Myanandar Hotel
No.10, Main Road, Southern part of Zaing Ganaing, Bago, Myanmar.

Shwe War Tun Hotel
Yangon-Mandalay Rd., Bago, Myanmar.
Ph: +95-52-21263

Shwe Seesein Hotel
No.354, Bayint Naung Street, Bago, Myanmar.

Three Five Hotel
10, Main Rd., Bago, Myanmar
Ph: +95-52-21966

Tun Hotel
233, 30th St., Leik Pyra Kan, Yongyi Qtr, Bago, Myanmar.
Ph: +95-52-21973


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Sunday, April 30, 2017

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