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.
Around the city
SHWE-THA-LYAUNG RECLINING BUDDHA
Built by the Mon in 994 this big Buddha was 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 this condition. This huge reclining Buddha with a sign on the platform in front of the image giving the measurements of each body part. 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.
The Shwemawdaw or 'Great Golden God Pagoda' of Bago has been growing for more than 1000 years. 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. The pagoda was originally built by 2 merchants. Taphussa and Bhalita. to house some hair relics of the Buddha. Originally built to a height of 23 meters. it has over the centuries become the tallest of the Burmese pagodas. As with other pagodas. this 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.
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.