The city of Bago is less than two hours' drive from Yangon. Its former name Pegu is an Anglicism. It is one of the major historical cities in Myanmar as it was the capital of the second Myanmar Empire. Even before that, it has long been a seat of power and flourishing trade center.
In fact, the city is so old that the people today including scholars can not figure out the exact meaning of its name. True, there have been several hypotheses, but none has been fully satisfactory or foolproof. The simple fact is that the name Bago has no meaning in modern Myanmar unless you take it as picking peas. Anyway, it is a short and handy name and a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Bago is a great place to visit as it has plenty of historical buildings and you can do it in a day-return trip from Yangon. Traditionally, the Shwemawdaw Pagoda and the Shwethalyaung Reclining Image constitute the chief tourist attractions of Bago.
SHWETHALYAUNG RECLINING BUDDHA IMAGE
Shwethalyaung was once the largest reclining image of the Buddha in the country, the record has been bettered by three or four other images now. Kalyani Sima (Ordination Hall) and stone inscriptions also are of great historical interest.
Shwemawdaw is one of the largest pagodas in the country and almost as famous as the Great Shwedagon. It is believed to have been built 237 years after the Buddha's Advent, that is, in the 4th century B.C. Shwethalyaung was once the largest reclining image of the Buddha in the country, the record has been bettered by three or four other images now. Kalyani Sima (Ordination Hall) and stone inscriptions also are of great historical interest.
Another great pagoda in Bago is Mahaceti built by Bayinnaung, most probably the wealthiest king in Myanmar history. According to historical records, fabulous treasures including the life-size gold statues of the extended imperial family were enshrined in it in addition to the usual sacred relics. Whether these treasures still remain intact inside the pagoda is a million question. The sad fact is that the pagoda had lain in ruins for centuries before it was restored to its old grandeur recently.
KAMBAWZA THARDI PALACE
The latest addition to Bago's tourist attractions is the Kambawza Thardi Palace. Originally, it was the palace of King Bayinnaung, the largest palace ever built in Myanmar throughout its entire history. For centuries, it has disappeared from the face of the earth through the ravages of time and wanton destruction by man. Only the stumps of its massive teak posts and other foundations have lain buried in the ground. Now the great palace is reconstructed on the same spot exactly according to its design and plan which have been recorded in ancient folding parchment-books.