GOLDEN ROCK OF KYAIKTIYO (160 kilometers northeast of Yangon) is a huge 20-foot-high gilded bolder teetering on the edge of a cliff. Topped by a 15-foot-high golden stupa and believed to be balanced on a single strand of Buddha's hair, the boulder is located on top of 3,600-foot-high (1095 meter-high) Kyatiktiyo Hill in the Paunglaung Mountains in the Mon State.

At first glance it looks as if the boulder will fall off the edge of the cliff with the slightest push, and it is even possible to pass a bamboo pole under the rock. But no matter how hard one pushes the boulder does not topple over. Now completely gilded with gold, the boulder is situated on the extreme verge of a sloping rock table, actually over hanging it by nearly half. By gently rocking the boulder a thread can be passed underneath. It seems that the additional weight of a few pounds, or a strong wind, would send the boulder sliding down from the place it has occupied for unknown centuries. Pious Buddhists attribute it to the power of the relic enshrined in the pagoda. This relic is a hair of the Buddha given to a hermit residing on the mountain by the Buddha himself as he was returning from the second heaven of the Nats whither he had gone to preach the law to his mother. In the early 2000s it was given some fresh layers of gilding.

A deep rock crevasse lies between the rock platform that supports the boulder and a pagoda on Kyatiktiyo Hill. A bridge with steel beams has been built between the boulder and the pagoda, and pilgrims from all over Myanmar come to Kyatktito Hill and walk across the bridge to say prayers and press gold leaf on the boulder. They walk barefoot and clockwise on a special marble path built around the bolder. Many foreign tourist say the rock is smaller than they thought it would be.

According to legend Buddha visited the town of Thanton near Kyatiktiyo Hill and gave strands of his hair to hermits who resided in six different hills. Instead of enshrining the hair, three of the hermits decided to keep the hair for themselves. Before they died, two of the hermits gave their hairs to the third hermit, latter called Buddhanana Hermit. Worried that the hairs might be lost after he died, Buddhanana asked the gods for help. Saaka, the king of all celestial beings, found a boulder in the shape of the hermit's head and drilled a hole in it for the hairs. The boulder of course was the one next to Kyaiktiyo Hill. In the Mon language Kyaiktiyo means "pagoda carried by a hermit on his head." The other two strands of hair were placed by Saaka, according to legend, on Koekhaoln Hill and Kusinaryon Hill.

Kyaikhtiyo pagoda is about 18 feet high, and 50 feet in girth. Situated on the hill of the same name on the ridge between Sittaung and Thanlwin, it is built on a huge, almost egg- shaped, rounded granitoid boulder perched on the very summit of a projecting and shelving tabular rock, which in itself is separated several feet from the mountain by a rent or chasm, now spanned by a small foot bridge of iron and on the further side drops perpendicularly into a valley blow.

Measurements of the Golden Rock: A) Volume of the Rock:244.58 M3; B) Density of the Rock: 2.5 Ton/M3; C) Weight of the Rock: 611.5 Tons; D) Height of the Rock: 8.15 meters (26 feet , 9 in); E) Kind of the Rock: Granite; F) Contact area: 0.714 sq-m (7.69 sq-ft); G) Volume of the Stupa: 9.26 M3; H) Density of the Stupa: 2.1 Ton/M3; I) Weight of the Stupa: 19.45 Tons; J) Height of the Stupa: 33 feet , 2 inches.

Visitors to the Golden Rock of Kyaiktiyo

Many monks come to Kyaiktiyo to meditate. Pilgrims make the journey to the boulder barefoot. Teenager boys come to check out the chicks. For many Burmese visiting Kyaiktiyo is the Buddhist equivalent of visiting Mecca. One monk told AP, “All our Buddhist people have a high feeling from being here.”Even though it possible to drive almost to the top many pilgrims take the arduous route over 20 hills to earn merit. The five-hour ascent to the Golden Boulder begins at the foot of Kyaiktiyo Hill at Kinpon Camp, which can be reached by train, car or minibus. The 7½-mile-long trail passes 27 stations, which were established as rest stops for pilgrims.

Along the way are armies of poor families that sell a variety of religious items, snacks and drinks as well as souvenir made from bamboo and elixers made from wild animal parts. Although the practice seems to defy the Buddhist prohibiton of killing animals it is possible to buy hornbill beaks, pangolin scales, eagle feathers and items made from civets, wild cats, porcupines, eagles and bears.

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda attracts crowds of worshippers annually beginning from October to March which is the seasonal pilgrimage period. Especially on the full moon day of Tabaung, the platform of the pagoda is lighted with ninety thousand candles offered to the Buddha and thousands of worshippers gather around the pagoda offering fruits, foods incense to the Buddha. Sometimes reflected rays of color from the Buddha's image were said to have been observed by the worshipers.

Visiting the Golden Rock of Kyaiktiyo

Kyaikhtiyo pagoda is located in the small town called Kyaikhto, in the Mon State. This destination is 160 kilometers (100 miles) away from Yangon. The pagoda is 1100 kilometers 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.

Recently, a road was built up to Rathedaung (Hermit Hill), which is a 45 minute drive from Kinpon Camp. The Golden Boulder is a 45 minute walk from Hermit Hill. Visitors who arrive at Kyaikto Railway Station have to travel by minibus to Kinpon Camp, which is 1½ kilometers from the gold rock.

There are beautiful views of forest, mountains, valleys and the Sittaung River from the pagoda platform, which also boasts a hotel, several guest houses, restaurants and souvenir shops. The Golden Boulder is one of Myanmar most sacred sights and pilgrims and visitors from all Myanmar come to view it. People who need assistance reaching the summit can pay a few dollars to be carried in a sedan chair. It is best to visit the site in the early morning or late afternoon when it is not so crowded.

Kyaikpawlaw Buddha (in Kyaikhto) is well-known because of the living mole on the face of the Buddha image. Five astonishing facts about this image: 1) The eyes of the image are lively. 2) The image was moved by elephants, horses, and men but was not able to move. 3) The image is said to be floating on water. 4) No matter how many times, the mole on the Buddha's face is offered with gold foil, it never fades away. 5) The image is always facing to the region where Sri Lanka exists. While visiting Kyaikhtiyo, one can also plan to visit this astonishing image at Kyaikpawlaw Hmeshindaw Pagoda. It is more convenient to go to Kyaikpawlaw Hmeshindaw Pagoda after visiting Kyaikhtiyoe. "Hmeshin" means living mole. The pagoda is said to possess great influence because of the mole on the Buddha’s face. Every year, there is a festival held in the name of this Buddha image. Locals from all parts of the country visit the mysterious image with the moving mole.


Bago(80 kilometers north along the Yangon-Mandalay train line) is seldom visited by tourists. Established in the 6th century, it was the capital of southern Myanmar in the 13th century, when the Mons ruled the region. In 1757, it was sacked and almost completely destroyed by the Burmese monarch, King Alaungpaya.

Bago was frequently mentioned by earlier Europeans visitors as an important seaport. Bago kingdom was under the rule of Pagan empire during the reign of Pagan Kings, from King Anawrahta in 1057 to King Narathihapati in 1287 AD. Later it became the capital city of Mon. Many pagodas and monuments were built during the rule of Kings in Bago.

Also known as Pegu, Bago is famous in Myanmar for its cheroot industry. Its most well-known tourist sight is the Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha, an 181-foot-long, 46-foot-high statue constructed in A.D. 994 that later disappeared under jungle growth and was rediscovered by railroad workers in 1881. Sometimes birds can be found nesting in its seven foot nose. A huge hollow concrete reclining Buddha in Bago was erected in 2003.

The Mon cities: Bago and Hanthawaddy were nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The ancient Mon cities built between the Ayeyawady Valley and the Sittaung Valley. Residencal Palace area of Mon King is under excavation. Contemporary with Innwa and built from the 11th to 17th centuries [Source: Department of Archaeology of Myanmar]

Bago Region is an administrative division of Myanmar, located in the southern portion of the country. It is bordered by Magway Region and Mandalay Region to the north; Kayin State, Mon State and the Gulf of Martaban to the east; Yangon Region to the south and Ayeyarwady Region and Rakhine State to the west. Bago Region is an economically strategic region with a network of motor roads and railways.

Sights in Bago

There are many famous Pagodas in Bago such as 375-foot-high Shwemawdaw (Shwe Maw Daw) Pagoda, said to be 200 years old; the 180-foot-long Shwetharlyaung (Shwe Tha Hlyaung) reclining Buddha Image (A.D. 994); Kyaikpun (Four Sitting Image) without shelter (1476) ; Kalyani Sima (Ordination Hall with 10 large stone scriptures, 1476); the Kanbawza Thardi Royal Palace of Bago Dynasty; and Bago forest camp in the Bago forest.

On a hilltop near the Reclining Buddha is Hintha Gone, a ruined pagoda that is watched by over by giant stone Hintha birds. There are nice views from pagoda as well as from another pagoda on Mahazedi Hill.Shwemawdaw Pagoda is also worth seeing. This golden domed temple is almost as big as Shwedagon. Enshrining two of Buddha hairs, it was completely rebuilt after being leveled by an earthquake in 1930.

Mahazedi is a famous pagoda built by King Bayinnaung in 1560 A.D. It 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 Hanthawadi or Hamsavati, by which Bago and her kingdom were known, originated from this name. Hinthargone Pagoda is just behind the Shwemawdaw Pagoda. There are good views over Bago from the hilltop. Believed to be the tiny-spot of legendary source, the hillock is decorated with a small shrine wih the symbolic figure of the female Hansa bird perching on the back of the male one. The Myatharlyaung Buddha, located next to the famous Shwetharlyaung Buddha image, is another giant reclining Buddha image.

Shwemawdaw Pagoda (in Bago) or 'Great Golden God Pagoda' has been growing for more than 1000 years and is now considered the tallest pagoda in Myanmar. The spire, which 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. As with other pagodas, its 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. Hours: 4:00am to 9:00pm daily Admission Fees: - US$ 2.

Kyaik Pun Pagoda (in Bago) contains 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. Hours: 4:00am to 9:00pm daily. Admission Fees: US$ 2.

Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha

Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha (in Bago) was built by the Mon in 994 and 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 its current state. 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: A) Height at the shoulder is 52.5 feet (16 meters). B) Extent of the face is 22.5 feet (6.9 meters). C) Lengthwise dimension of the throat is 7.5 feet (2.3 meters). D) Length of the upper torso is 47.5 feet (14.5 meters). E) Length of the ear is 15 feet (4.6 meters). F) Length of the eyebrows is 7.5 feet (2.3 meters). G) Width of the mouth is 7.5 feet (2.3 meters). H) Width of each eye is 3.5feet (1.1 meters). I) Bridge of the nose is 7.5 feet (2.3 meters). J) Length of the sole of the foot is 25.5 feet (7.8 meters). K) Dimension of the palm lengthwise is 22 feet (6.7 meters). L) Height of the big toe is 6 feet (1.8 meters). Hours: 4:00am to 9:00pm, open daily. Admission Fees: US$ 2.


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. See History.

Kanbawza Thadi Palace (in Bago) is the famous palace of King Bayinnaung (1551-1581 A.D.). Built for the king in 1556, it consisted of 76 apartments and halls. It was burned down in 1599 and reconstructed between 1990 and 1992. 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 in 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 bases 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 is overseen by the Myanmar Archaeology Department and covers 9.6 acres. The reconstructed 16th century palace of Hanthawadi and the whole palace site will become a main tourist attraction in the near future. Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm daily. Admission Fees: US$4 per person.

King Bayintnaung was a popular Myanmar king. After two years of his reign, in 1553, he built Kambowzathadi Palace which was the heart of Myanmar. The Italian merchant Caesar Fredaricke and the British merchant Ralph Fitch stated that the Hanthawadi City was a glorious and magnificent capital. It was a great city built on plain and flat site. The royal palace was at the center of the new city. The Chamber of the Royal Palace was grand and richly gilded. Some apartments of the palace were roofed with gold plates depicting the magnificence and beauty of the royal palace.


Hanthawady was a great commercial center in the 16th century. The palace site is 67.3 acres wide. Mound No. 1 is the site of the main shrine hall. When this was excavated archeologists discovered about two thousand damaged Buddha images. Mound No 2. is the site of royal chamber of princess. Her name is Razadatukalya. who was the eldest daughter of King Bayintnaung. Mound Nos. 3 and 4 are the sites of apartments of Chief-queens. It is assumed mound No. 5, as it is connected by a corridor to mound No. 4 is the site of chief queen’s chamber. Mound No. 6 is the site of the royal bed Chamber called Bee throne hall, Bamayarthanapalin hall, where the King’s living Chamber and bed room was well guarded by his most trusted persons. Apart from very important cases, such as military affairs, coming here was strictly prohibited to everyone including his queens and female attendants. When mound No. 6 was archeologists discovered 64 large teak pillars.

The most important findings at the site of the great audience hall site were 167 teak posts, of which 135 were inscribed in Mon and Myanmar languages bearing the names of towns, regions and the royal ministers who brought the large teak posts for the construction of the great audience hall. This is the largest building of the Palace. It was used as a State Audience Hall. Among the eight thrones, the Thiharthana throne, the Lion throne, is set inside the building. The Thihathana throne is made of Yamanay (gmeline abornea) wood. At the top and bottom of two pilasters attached to the upper part of the throne on each side, the figures of four celestial beings can be seen. At the top center piece there is the figure of the Thagyamin (King of the Celestial beings) on whose forehead a legend admonishing the King to rule the Kingdom with justice is written. That very fact shows that the Thihathana throne is virtually the symbol of national sovereignty.

In the middle of left pilaster there is a figure of a peacock representing the sun and in the middle of the night pilaster is the figure of a rabbit, the sign of the moon. They are depicting that Myanmar monarchs are the descendants of the Sun and the Moon. King Bayintnaung not only built a strong, united and enlarged 2nd Myanmar Empire. He also ruled his Kingdom with justice, and his subjects enjoyed peace and prosperity. He encouraged agriculture, trade and commence. Ministers and generals of various nationalities served under him and they were promoted to high positions. Theravada Buddhism flourished under his patronage as he made every effort to promote it. Therefore, his people adored and severed him willingly. In that way. King Bayintnaung realized his vision of establishing a strong, peaceful and developed second Myanmar Union.

The Mon cities: Bago and Hanthawaddy were nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The ancient Mon cities built between the Ayeyawady Valley and the Sittaung Valley. Residencal Palace area of Mon King is under excavation. Contemporary with Innwa and built from the 11th to 17th centuries [Source: Department of Archaeology of Myanmar]


PYAY (260 kilometers north-northwest of Yangon and reached by train and 290 kilometers south of Mandalay) was an ancient capital. Nearby are the scattered ruins of the ancient city of Srikhistra (Sri Kshetra). Beyond it is Guatama Hill, a 300-foot-high, 1½-mile-long cliff with hundreds of images of the Buddha extending its entire length. Commissioned by local nobleman and monarchs, some of the images are done in relief, others are busts inside of niches, many are painted or gilded. A new bridge is being constructed across the Irrawaddy here not far from Tax Point, where ships were once obliged to pay a toll before being allowed to pass.

Pyay (also called Prome and Pye) is located on the east side of the Irrawaddy River in south central Myanmar. Nearby Pyè is one of the oldest cities in Myanmar. Pyay was founded in the eighth century and became part of British Myanmar in 1852. Today, Pyay is home to 135,000 people and is a commercial town and port. Visitors can see the ruins of ancient Pyè and Taungoo near the modern city.

Pyay is an important commercial center for trade between the Irrawaddy Delta, Central and Upper Myanmar and the Rakhine (Arakan) State. There are several inns and hotels, with modern facilities for visitors, in Pyay. There are many ancient pagodas in the city, including Shwesandaw Pagoda, and a famous huge sitting Buddha Statue at Sehtetgyi Pagoda. Other interesting places in Pyay include 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.

Pyay can be reached from Yangon travelling along a well-maintained highway. 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 Pagan. Pyay is about halfway between Yangon and Pagan. Visitors can stop over in Pyay and travel on to Pagan and Mandalay.

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, is about eight kilometers to the east. It is an interesting place to visit because of their historical importance and archaeological sites. 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 a palace site with prototypes of Pagan vaulted temples such as Lemyethna and East Zegu. The cylinder-shaped Bawbawgyi Pagoda and Payagyi and Payama stupas each have a high conical dome. There is an Archaeological Museum.

Ancient Pyu

Ruins of the ancient Pyu kingdom is found around 8 kilometers to the east of Pyay in the village of Hmaw Za. The ancient site is known as Thayekhittaya or Sri Ksetra. Ruins can be seen scattering in the area, and there is a small museum. Other places of interest include Kyatkhutwine Monastery, the local pottery Industry and Htauk Kyant Allied War Cemetery

The Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu entered the Irrawaddy valley from present-day Yunnan in the 2nd century B.C., and went on to found city states throughout the Irrawaddy valley. The Pyu were the earliest inhabitants of Burma of whom records are extant. During this period, Burma was part of an overland trade route from China to India. Trade with India brought Buddhism from southern India. By the 4th century, many in the Irrawaddy valley had converted to Buddhism. The Pyu calendar, based on the Buddhist calendar, later became the Burmese calendar. Latest scholarship, though yet not settled, suggests that the Pyu script, based on the Indian Brahmi script, may have been the source of the Burmese script. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Pyu Ancient Cities is located in the Irrawaddy River Basin in Myanmar. This group of cities is comprised of archaeological evidence including brick city walls, moats, and clay embankments from three cities: Halin, Beikthano, and Sri Ksetra. These cities were significant in the Pyu State during the 4th – 9th centuries. Archaeological analysis found evidence of a fortresses, cremation rituals, brick Buddhist stupas, and a moat with clay embankment structures built for use in water management. Some moats and clay embankments are still usable nowadays. Halin, Beikthano, and Sri Ksetra are considered the pioneers of cultural world heritage in the Serial Property category in Southeast Asia, dating between the 4th and 9th centuries. The group of Pyu ancient cities in Myanmar was declared a World Heritage Site in 2014 based on the Outstanding Universal Values, Criteria 2, 3, and 4.

Pyu ancient cities are a cultural resource that shows the Indian cultural transfer that occurred during the 6th century. Pyu Ancient Cities are considered the first cities in Southeast Asia where Buddhism was established. There are several Buddhism-related buildings and brick pagodas. The architecture styles were adapted from external culture into the unique Pyu architectural styles. The Buddhist culture in Pyu Cities was also transferred to and led to changes in other parts of Southeast Asia since the early common ear through Buddhism doctrines and practices. The Pyu ancient complex is considered to be the first area in history where Buddhism was originally established in Southeast Asia. The construction of Buddhist venues for ceremony organization led to seasonal agricultural area management and water management for utilization and consumption, and the production of potteries, steel, gold and silver items for trading purposes, and the construction of brick Buddhist venues under royal sponsorship. Additionally, new mortuary practices were initiated, crematoria were constructed, and people began to keep cremated human remains in urns. During this time, commercial network between Pyu ancient cities and other locations in Southeast Asia, China, and India, were established, contributing to the use of Pali in Southeast Asia in the Buddhist scriptures.

Shwesandaw Pagoda

Shwesandaw Pagoda (in Pyay) is situated on the eastern bank of Irrawaddy river and is one Myanmar’s most venerated places. Formerly known as Mya Thi Htin, it is 127 feet high, including its base its total height is 290 feet. 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, Sri Lanka. 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. Shwesandaw means “Golden Hair Relics. Looking east from the terrace at Shwesandaw stupa you’ll see the enormous seated Buddha figure rising up from the treeline at Sehtetgyi Pagoda. Sehtatgyi means ‘Big Ten-storey.’

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. 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.

Around Pyay

Shwedaung (14 kilometers south of Pyay) is a small town with two famous pagodas: The Shwemyethman Paya and the Shwenattaung Paya. Shwemyethman Paya means 'Paya with the Golden Spectacles'—a reference 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. Shwenattaung Paya means 'Golden Spirit Mountain'. This pagoda dates back to the Sriksetra era. Legend takes it back all the way to 283 B.C. 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).

The Bespectacled Buddha Image was built by King Duttabaung, founder of Tharekhitaya Dynasty. The king and queens Peikthano and Sanda Dewi had repaired the Shwe Nat Taung Pagoda west of Shwedaung and were having a rest when Queen Peikthano dreamt of a pagoda in the north-west. They looked for the place and found it there, marked by brilliance of the lights of the Buddha. So they built this pagoda. Soon, King Duttabaung lost his superhuman eyesights. Seers said he must offer glasses to the Buddha of the right size. Hence the glasses. In 1227, Zeya Nandameik, the Lord of Shwedaung, had the Image repaired with the glasses with gold frames. This is the only bespectacled Buddha Image in Myanmar.

Akauktaung Mountain (30 kilometers by boat, north of Pyay) stands on the bank of the Irrawaddy River. There are many huge carvings of Buddha images on wall of the rocks near the bank of Irrawaddy river, which can easily observe from the river by boat. Different sizes and styles of Buddha images are carved into the wall of the bank. Visitors can climb and visit Akauktaung pagoda, which lies at the top of the bank. On the way From Yangon to Pyay you will come across Paung Te. The sacred tooth relic of Buddha is enshrined in the Paung Te Swedaw Seddi.

Nandawya Research Museum

Nandawya Research Museum contains a model of Kambawza Thardi palace. The museum also houses the remaining parts of the original palace’s teak pillars and big teak posts presented by respective noblemen to King Bayintnaung. The 16th century sacred Buddha images revered by King Bayintnaung are also exhibited. They show the high artistic handiwork of ancient Myanmar culture. Utensils which includes glazed earthen utensils and potsherd of the Hanthawady Period are also displayed. Scales and weights used in trade shows the systematic ancient Myanmar economy. Bronze pots and bells are shown and Brahmany coins highlight the monetary system of Hanthawaddy Period. The art of blacksmith can be seen through chopper’s words, axes and iron bars used in building constructions.

Decorated earthernware pipes reflect the living standard of that period while Muttama glazed earthernware jars show the prosperity of the period. The earthernware jars were well-liked by foreign ships which embarked at the Hanthawady Port. Charts and maps which depict the conquest of the King are also honourably displayed.


TAUNGOO (175 miles north of Yangon on the Yangon-Mandalay road) is a train and bus stop and the only place for the tourists where you can get good accommodation on Yangon-Mandalay road. Taungoo (Kaytumadi City) was founded by King Mingyinyo in 1510 A.D. and later improved by King Minye Kyawhtin. All the four sides of the city wall are still very conspicuously seen, with the exception of the part of the southern wall. The wall is built of bricks. The moat surrounding the city is dried up, except in some of its sections on the eastern side, where it is purposely kept and properly maintained. About 6.4 meters from the wall city is the first moat filled with soft mud, which is about 9.6 meters wide. It is one of the main gateways to Bago Yoma and its teak forests and is worth exploring. It derives much of its importance these days from the timber trade and the teak forests on which its economy depends is seen on the mountain ranges lying to the east and west of the town. Sometimes you can see trucks carrying elephants which work these forests.

Pawdawmu (Shin Pyin) Pagoda (in Padaung, Bago Division) was said to be carved out by the nat king from the Buddha's sacred barge and given to King Alaung Sithu. The king revered it with a Shin Hla image in a cave at Chaukma above Sagaing, after having revered it in the palace. After some 600 years, it was taken away by kathes of Manipura. The king conveyed it back in Sakarit 1114, from there to his palace. In the reign of King Sinbyushin, son of Alaung Sithu, it was conveyed by U Nyein, hero of Thayezee (or) Taleesi Ward in middle Myanmar, by royal permission, to Thayezee (or) Taleesi Ward in Padaung. In 1186, due to colonialist wars of aggression, it got left unrevered and became covered with earth. In 1236, it was brought to surface again. Originally, it was named Stun. Pyu but it was also known-as Pawdawmu. In 1288, it got a new gantaguti building atop Thiri Mingala Hill and became one like today.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: Myanmar Travel Information, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, The Irrawaddy, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP,,, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books and other publications.

Last updated August 2020

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