If you find yourself in Yangon and have spent all the time you want to in the dynamic but crumbling city, a day trip to the once-capital of a Mon kingdom in the lower Myanmar area is a worthwhile possibility. This is especially true if you are not stupa-fied and buddha-ed out by the thought of more zedis, pahtos, and monuments. My threshold may be a bit higher than most so I was keen to make the trip.
Some seventy kilometers north of Yangon is the modern city of Bago, formerly known in English as Pegu. It was founded by Mon traders in the 800’s C.E. From 1365 to 1625 C.E., it flourished under a string of competent rulers who left impressive religious monuments. These works not only expressed but helped strengthen their claims of spiritual legitimacy and worldly power.
Pegu hit its peak in the half-century from 1550 to 1600 under the rule of Bayinnaung, who made it the capital of his short-lived Taungoo Empire. Its impressive size is indicated in the map below.
The hotel receptionist arranged for a taxi to pick me up at 7:00 a.m. For $70. U.S. I would have the service of an air-conditioned car for the day. The driver Yan had done the trip often before so he already had a checklist of sites to visit in his head and we wasted little time getting from place to place. With another passenger or two to split the cost, the trip would have been downright cheap! It was still worth it. We arrived in Bago around 9:00 and for the next six hours Yan drove me from site to site and waited in the car while I did my thing.
What follows is a list of sites that my visit to Bago included. Some were more impressive than others; all would have benefitted from being visited in the cool of the evening near dusk when they would have been more alive with the presence of worshippers.
1. The Shwemawdaw Pagoda
Click on the following title to access more pix and info on the Shwemawdaw Pagoda –
2. The Hintha Gon (The Hill of the Hamsa)
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3. Kanbawzathadi Palace
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4. The Shwethalyaung Buddha
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5. Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha
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6. The Mahazedi Paya
Click on the following title to see more about the Mahazedi and the two following sites –
7. Shwegugale Paya
8. Kayak Pun Pagoda
Click on the following title to see more about the Kayak Pun Pagoda –