The City of Bago is situated on the river of same name, 80 km northeast of Yangon. The ancient capital of "Hanthawadi " said to have founded in 573 AD by two Mon princes from the capital Thaton. In 13th century Bago became the center of the Mon kingdom of "Ramanadesa" which consist of all lower Myanmar. In 16th century Burmese took over the capital when king "Tabinshwehti" annexed Bago to his "Taungoo" second dynasty kingdom. It is still surrounded by the ruins of its old wall and moat. There were 42 kings in the Bago Dynasty. Razadirit, Queen Shin Saw Bu, Dhamazedi and Bayinnaung were great rulers. Shwethalyaung reclining Buddha Image Measuring 55 meter long and 16 meter high is reputed to be one of the largest as well as most life link of most reclining Buddha images. Originally built of brick and stucco in 994 AD by the king Mon king "Migadepa II". It was however deteriorate and was restored several times during it existence before the destruction of Bago in 16 century. Thus the huge Buddha Image was completely covered by overgrown jungle until British occupation when an Indian contractor found it accidentally digging earth in construction on railways line.
The road to Bago (Shwe Nyaungbin)
A few km out of Yangon on the left side of the road is a brick shrine under an old banyan tree believed to the abode of guardian "Nats" or spirits of the highway. Cars and bused stop here to give offerings for protection against accidents. There is a ritual for newly purchased cars: the vehicle is driven forward towards the shrine and then backwards, three times each way. The bonnet is then sprayed with perfume and mediums recite prayers, for a substantial fee. The owner is given a garland of ribbons to tie on his car to ward off road mishaps.
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
Kyaik Pun Buddha Images
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.
Shwethalyaung Reclining Image
One of the largest and most life like images in Myanmar. It depicts Gaudama Buddha on the eve of his entry into Nirvana. Built in 994 AD by King Mingadippa, it is 55 meters long and 16 meters high. After falling into neglect and disrepair for nearly five centuries, it was repaired by King Dhammazedi and maintained by King Bayintnaung until Bago was completely destroyed in 1757. The Buddha was covered by dense forest and disappeared for 125 years. In 1881 it was unearthed by a contractor who was building the Yangon-Bago railway line for the British. The jungle and undergrowth were cleared away and a steel, open-sided tazaung or pavilion was erected over the figure in 1906. The dimensions of the figure are posted on the board as shown and 108 marks. There are also painted glass panels showing scenes of Buddha's life on the wall below the head. They have been wrought in enamel and mosaic. Guardian Nats flank the Buddha and the immediate vicinity is surrounded by attractive vegetation.
Kanbawza Thadi 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. 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.
Located 175 miles north of Yangon on Yangon-Mandalay road. Old Kaytumadi city was founded by King Mingyinyo in 15th century. All four sides of the city wall are still very conspicuously seen, with the exception of the part of the southern wall. Taungoo is the main gateways to Bago Yoma and its teak forests and is worth exploring. Though its ancient empire has long since crumbled; Taungoo remains an important pilgrimage site for Buddhist devotees who flock regularly to Shwesandaw pagoda.