Yangon & Vincinity
(Yangon, Thanlyin, Kyauktan, Twante, Pathein, Bago, Pyay, Kyaikhtiyoe, Mawlamyaing, Pha-an)
The founding Yangon is connected that story of Shwedagon of the Enlightenment of Gaudama Buddha . It was on the 49th day after the Enlightenment when two brothers, Taphussa and Bhallika, merchants from Ukkalapa in the land of Mon people in Lower Myanmar
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The brothers returned home and made landfall at Pagoda Point in the south-west coast of Myanmar. They sent word to king Ukkalapa of their arrival with the sacred Hairs. The King welcomed the Hairs with great ceremony at Asitanzana, north-west of present Yangon. The king and the brothers next sought for a man who could tell them the location of Singuttara Hill. No human knew the location but Sakka, King of the nats did, and guided them to the Hill. Singuttara Hill is known by seven names of which one is Trikhumba, meaning 'three pots' and signifying three pot-shaped hills. Tikhumba became Tikun and Dagon and later Changed to Kyak Lagun in Mon.
The discovery of a votive of the Bagan period at Tadagale to the north of Yangon shows that the laterite ridge at the end of which Shwedagon lay was a scene of activity in the Bagan period and the ridge may have provided a road southwards to the Shwedagon Pagoda and Dagon Village beyond. After the collapse of Bagan in the 13th century and the rise of Mon power in the 14th with the capital at Bago, Dagon became a place of some importance, though not as a commercial port but as a centre of religious life. At onetime Dagon was reported to contain thirty-two ordination halls Binnya U (1348-83), Mon king of Bago created a pagoda of height 18 m. (60'). Dagon was also a place of refuge for princes who did not find Bago safe. Binnya U's son, Binnya Nwe, later King Rajadarit, who had a chronicle to himself, fled to Dagon when he ran away with his half-sister Talamidaw.
Dagon at that time was not a walled city but a fort of logs. Successive Mon King of the 15th century raised the height of Pagoda by encasing earlier pagoda and embellishing the new. King Binnyayan (1426-46)cut down the hill and enlarged the base to five terraces to sustain the height but before he could finish the work he died. The work was continued by his successor, Binnyawaru (1446-50) who was helped by his mother, Queen Shin Saw Bu, the only regnant queen of Myanmar. She was ably assisted by the commander of the army, soldiers, attendants and the common people. They raised the height of the Pagoda to 90.6 m(302'). Queen Shin Saw Bu was the first to gild the Pagoda. She went on the scales and let them take her weight which was a bout 40 kg.(90 lbs). She donated that weight in gold. She dedicated a vast expanse of glebe lands which virtually covered the whole of modern Yangon. Her successor King Dhammazedi created the stone inscriptions standing on Pagoda Hill. He also donated a huge bell which a Portugese adventurer took away but which fell into the river and has not been recovered.
In1539, Tabinshwehti, who had conquered Bago, placed a jewelled finial on the Pagoda. Casper de Cruz, a Dominican priest, who was the country between 1550-60 said that "the Brames (Burmese) were a great people, very rich of gold and precious stones, chiefly of rubies; a proud nation and valiant. They have very rich and gallant shippings garnished with gold which they sail in the rivers; they use vessels of gold silver; their houses are of timber and well wrought. The kingdom is very great."
In 1572, Bayinnaung rebuilt the Pagoda to 360' and had it reguilded. The shrine had been reduced to rubble during an earthquake in 1564.Bayinnaung embarked from Bago in a golden barge in the form of the mythical hintha bird, surmountedby a golden spire. The barge was escorted by a large fleet of 300 golden canoes and 1000 war boats which filled the Bago River as far as the eye could see. The grand fleet floated down to Dagon. Bayinnaung repeated the trip in 1581.
In 1583, Gasparo Balbi "came to the faire cities of Dagon, it is finally seated, and fronted towards the south-west, and where they land are twenty long steps, the matter of them is strong and great pieces of timber--After we were landed we began to go on the right hand is a large street about fifty places broad, in which we saw wooden houses gilded, and adorned with delicate gardens, after their custom, where in Talapoins, which are their Firers dwell. The left side is furnished with Portals, and Shops, very like the new Procreation at Venice; and by a street that go towards the Avella, for the space of a good mile straight forwards either under paint houses or in the open street, which is free to walk in." Ralph Fitch wrote about the same time; "It is the fairest place, as I suppose, the that is in the world; it (the Pogoda) standeth very high, and there are four ways to it, which all along are set with trees of fruits, in such wise that a man may goes in the shade above two miles in length. And when their feast day is, man can hardly passe by water or land for the great presse thither of people; for they come from all places of the Kingdom of Pegu thither at their Feast."
End of the 16th century the Shwedagon Fair was attracting people not only from Myanmar but also from distance lands such as Laos and Cambodia. The Dagon Fair was one of the chief markets for overseas trade rivalling Bago and Thanlyin. The Delta was effecting yet another change. The Bago River too was silting up off Thanlyin, and sea-going vessels were finding it difficult to navigate the reaches opposite the town. Thus, Dagon was becoming the port of choice. After the founding of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Alaungpaya's conquest of lower Myanmar is the second most important event in the history of Dagon. May 1775 marks the beginning of the modern town when Alaungpaya, to commemorate his victory, changed its name from Dagon to Yangon, "Enmity Exhausted." Alaungpaya's Yangon.
Profile of Thanlyin,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. Thanlyin formerly known as Syriam is just across the bridges over river. A half-an-hour's drive by car or train.
Here is 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 sixyears 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 known as Kyaik DeiYa.
Profile of Twante
The delta region outside Yangon is the town of Twante where the "Oh-Bo pottery" is located.The boat trip provides a view of life along the canal while Twante itself provides interest as a centre of pottery and hand-woven cotton cloth. The pottery town of Twante is famous for the 21-mile-long canal that runs between the Ayeyawady Delta and the Yangon River. Twante can be reached by land or river from Yangon. It is only 15 miles away from Yangon. The streets of Twante are littered with so many beautiful pots of different sizes & shapes.
Profile of 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. Bassein(Pathein) of the past days era Mr.Hobson-Jobson noted was known as Cosmic.
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.
Profile of 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.
Profile of 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.
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.
Profile of Kyaikhtiyoe
Kyaikhtiyo pagoda is located in the small town called Kyaikhto, in the Mon State. This destination is 160km away from Yangon. The pagoda is 1100km above sea-level. It is a 11 kilometer uphill climb for the hikers from Kinpun base camp. There is also a steep winding road for 4-wheel drive cars from the base to the nearest point of the pagodas.
Profile of Mawlamyaing
Mawlamyine (or Moulmein )is the capital of the Mon State in the Union of Myanmar. It is also the third largest city in the country, after Yangon and Mandalay. It has a population of about 240,000. Mawlamyine is an ancient Mon town. The name according to the legend comes from Mot-Mua-Lum, meaning "one eye destroyed" . In this legend an ancient king had three eyes, the third eye in the centre of the fore-head having the power of seeing what was going on in surrounding kingdoms. The King of a neighbouring country gave his daughter in marriage to the three-eyed king, and this queen was eventually able to destroy the all-seeing third eye. Mawlamyine is now being transformed into a modern city with many new public and private buildings coming up. Only the old pagodas on the Mawlamyine Ridge remind us of her ancient origins.
Mawlamyine can be reached by road, rail or plane. As Myanmar Airways flies to Mawlamyine only on Thursdays and Sundays. it is more convenient to go by car, bus or railway. There are at present three trains from Yangon to Mottama (or Martaban ) ehe terminus across the Than Lwin ( Salween ) River from Mawlamyine. She trains leave Yangon at 3a.m. . 4a.m. and 8a.m daily, and take about seven hours to reach Mottama. It is a pleasant half an hour's river crossing by passenger or car ferry from Mottama to Mawlamyine. The ferry goes in a southeast direction across the wide expanse of the Than Lwin River near its mouth. As you cross, you can see Bilu Kyun (Ogre Island) in the west.
Profile of Hpa An
Hpa-an is a capital of Kayin State. Recently removed from the restricted list of travel destinations. Possible to reach it by road from Yangon across a new Bridge ( Thanlwin ) over the Thanlwin River. Hpa-an is small town but busy commerce center you can see farmer coming to town in horsecarts or trishaws stacked with baskets or mas to sell in the market. Most of people are Kayin.