Ancient stupas and temples in old Ahmyint city

Ancient stupas in Ahmyint village.
Ancient stupas in Ahmyint village.

By Maung Tha (Archaeology)

Ancient stupas and temples can be seen in all parts of Myanmar where evidences on Theravada Buddhism have been found since the time of Pyu culture. Religious edifices in Pyu era such as Phayagyi, Bawbawgyi and Phayama as well as Laymyethna temple, Yahanta temple and Ashaezay temple are standing tall in ancient Pyu city Sri Kestra whereas many stupas and temples in Bagan era can be seen in Bagan region. Similarly, Buddhist religious buildings including stupas and temples are being preserved in ancient Myanmar cities such as Sagaing, Inwa and Amarapura.
Ancient stupas and temples are exiting in some ancient areas such as Mwedaw Kakku, Paleik and Mekkhaya till today in addition to Ahmyint Village in ChaungU Township of Sagaing Region.

ChaungU

Nwekhway Village where the fossil molar of early primate was found takes a position in northeast of ChaungU. The fossil molar was found on Dinga hillock of Shwemyintin mountain range, one mile northwest of Nwekhway Village, in 1981. Myanmar Encyclopaedia stated NyaungU Saw Rahan built ChaungU Village surrounded by nine small villages on 4th waning of Tazaungmone, 287 Myanmar Era. While digging the pits for burying cabalistic diagram sheets at four corners of the city, a flame emerged from the iron grub hoe, so the area was called Thantauk. Moreover, the name ChaungU was originated by starting point of creeks. As evidence, it was named the land of ChaungU in the stone inscription of Shwesikhon Pagoda in Khinmon Village.

Existing ChaungU Township shares border with Myinmu Township in the east, Salingyi Township in the west, Myaung Township in the south and Monywa Township in the north. The 188.57 square miles area of the town is 14 miles and four furlongs long from the east to the west and 13 miles and seven furlongs long from the south to the north. The township is formed with six wards and 89 villages in 26 village-tracts.
ChaungU Township at an altitude of 256 feet is home to 108,387 people. Among them, 108,298 people, accounting for 99.9 per cent, is Bamar ethnic people. Buddhists are 99.3 per cent of total population with some Christians and Islam in the township.

Local people are engaged in cultivation of paddy and other crops on 188,070 acres of farmlands which yield 1.6 million baskets of paddy, groundnut, sesame, sunflower, mung bean, green gram, pigeon pea, cotton and maize in 2017-18 fiscal year. They grow toddy, areca and mango as major perennial crops as well as marketable crops such as watermelon and muskmelon on 12,716 acres of land.

Nine basic education high schools and high school branches, ten middle schools and branches and 61 post-primary and primary schools are opened in the township for learning of local students. Likewise, ChaungU Township People’s Hospital (25-bed), Ahmyint and Thonpanhla Station Hospitals (16-bed each) and 26 rural health branches are giving healthcare services to the local people.

Currently, 1,454 ancient and new stupas and temples scatter in ChaungU Township. Among them, some pagodas in ChaungU, Khinmon, Ahmyint, Ahneint and Hmancho villages are the most eminent. Mingala Aungmyin Temple, Yoksone Pagoda, Aungmye Lawka Temple, Phatthad Pagoda, Maha Zawtikayama Monastery in Khinmon Village, MinO Chantha Cluster of Pagodas, Phatthad Cluster of Pagodas, a pagoda from Minye Cluster of Pagodas, a pagoda from Yatthit Monastery Cluster of Pagodas, Thambula Pagoda, a pagoda near Pitakat Chamber of Tawya Monastery, four ChinthaeU clusters of pagoda, four pagodas of Yunkyaung cluster of pagodas, stone inscription chamber of Tawkyaunggyi, cluster of Thonpanhla Pagodas, Shweguhtuk cluster of pagodas, Bukon Pagoda and Laing Pagoda bearing mural paintings are involved in the protection zone of Department of Archaeology and National Museum in 2012.

Lattawya Buddha Image seen in the precinct of Kotawpyauk Pagoda.
Lattawya Buddha Image seen in the precinct of Kotawpyauk Pagoda.

 

Ancient Ahmyint city

Ahmyint, the native land of journalist Oway U Nyo Mya (1914-1985), Naingngan Gonyi Grade-I Thakin Lay Maung (1910-1990) and Ayeetaung pickled tea industry owner U Kyaw Thein, takes a position on the bank of Chindwin River, 7.5 miles west of ChaungU.

Statues and biography stone inscriptions of those three honourable persons were erected in front of Nyo Mya Toh Village Library in Ahmyint.
Ahmyint city was ruled by Bagan King Htilo Minlo and Laungshe Queen, Inwa King Mingyi Swa Saw Ke and Min Latt Wah in Konbaung era.
Ancient Ahneint (now Thonpanhla Village), four miles south from Ahmyint, along Chindwin River bank is a native land of Sayadaw U Wisara. Ahmyint was a town assigned to recruit 800 soldiers for the royal palace and 200 in Konbaung era.

Some people assume Ahmyint was established in 224 Myanmar era. In his reign, King Narapatisithu of Bagan (1165-1201) renovated the moat of ancient Ahmyint city. The area of ancient Ahmyint city comprised 336 stupas and temples, 11 monasteries and 63 stone plaques. The notes of Bonsin Monastery abbot in Ahmyint mentioned the city was established together with 10 pagodas, nine god statues, nine caves, nine mounds, nine lakes and five water inlet channels.

Ten pagodas are inner Ethan and outer Ethan, inner Setlon and outer Setlon, inner Uti and outer Uti, inner Myintin and outer Myintin, inner Shwegu and outer Shwegu. Seven statues of gods were kept at six gates and three on Myodwinkon and Konkkyaung. Nine caves were named with different meanings. Nine mounds were Hlawga, Ngakhe, Pwaypin Khaya, Bon, Kalagyi, Thaphan, Talai, Wayauk and Thittabin mounds. Nine lakes were Shwepyar, Wetchi, Inpetlet, Hlawga, Khawathe, Kyaykhaung, Laythaung, Kansee and Ngakhe lakes. Five water inlet channels were named with Hteinchaung, Pauktaw, Shinthange, Ngasikyi and Ayanwatar. Twelve city gates were Sitha, Thudattha, Hsincha, Mingala, Mathar, Aungtha, Mathoe, Mahnyo, Tettoe, Eitha, Minma and Thazi gates.

Ten lacquerware Buddha images

People assume Bagan King Narapatisithu ordered to carve 10 lacquerware Buddha images—each of which was located at Shwelinpin Monastery in Sipoktara Village of KhinU Township, Kaunghmudaw Pagoda in Sagaing, Shwesakagyi Pagoda in Samon Village of Sagaing Township, Shwetasa Pagoda in Shwebo, Shwesakar Pagoda in Mingin, Shweyattaung Pagoda in Singu, Sakarhla Pagoda in Kalay, Shwesakargyi Pagoda in Kyahnyat, Shwekumyin Pagoda in Myedu and Amyint. These lacquerware Buddha images were found from Shwetwinaung Pagoda between Ahmyint and Ahneint in 1256 ME. Abbot U Pannavam who resided at the monastery donated by Magway Minister near Thawtapan Village found about five feet high Buddha image from the large pit in the precinct of Shwetwinaung Pagoda. As he saw the inscription carved by Bagan King Narapatisithu in 536 ME. So he conveyed it to Magway Monastery. The Buddha image was stolen. Three weeks later, it was found by Kon Monastery Abbot U Thila from the toddy palm plantations near Amyint city. Thieves took jewellery and gold from the face of the image. So, U Pho Toke and Daw Kyi renovated the image as original form. Kon Monastery Abbot handed over the image but Magway Abbot Bhaddanta U Pannavam did not accept it. The Buddha Pujaniya festival of the lacquerware Buddha Image conveyed from Kon Monastery to Magway Monastery has been held from the eve of Thadingyut to 1st waning for more than 90 years. When Kon Monastery was repaired, the Buddha image was moved to Gandakuti Chamber of Shwekyoriz Pagoda for public obeisance and then returned to Kon Monastery.

Visiting sites in Ahmyint

Travellers can visit Shwetwinaung Pagoda, the tunnel in the precinct of the pagoda, Shwekyoriz Buddha Image, Minye Monastery built with the use of 119 teak posts and pagodas in the precinct of Minye Monastery. Mingala Bonpyan Monastery built by long-life Minister Min Latt Wah of King Mindon in 1220 ME was formed with 12 buildings and four brick ladders with the use of 136 teak posts. Lattawya Buddha Image can be seen in the precinct of Kotawpyauk Pagoda.

Buddha Pujaniya festivals for Shwekyoriz, Kodawgyi, Shinpin Myittanan, Shwethalyaung, Minye Phayagyi, Shwetwinaung, Minpaungshin, Shinpin Metali, Thettawya, Minye, NanU, Yoetawpon, lacquerware Buddha image, Bonpyan and Shwetheindaw stupas and temples are held in Amyint the days of Sabbath from the full moon day of Waso to full waning of Thadingyut.

Mural paintings can be seen on interior of a temple in the clusters of Minye pagodas. These are under maintenance of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum.

Although Ahmyint Village is a small village which is home to 2,613 people from 573 houses, it was an ancient city with prosperity. As evidences, old stupas and temples, collapsed ones and brick mounds can be seen in the village. Ancient Ahmyint city welcomes those wishing to search historical evidences. People can observe rare manuscripts, documentary photos, manuscripts of veteran writers, newspapers and books collected by veteran journalist U Nyo Mya at Nyo Mya Toh Village Livrary opened in Amyint Village. A picture of Minister Min Latt Wah who governed Amyint city in Konbaung era is hung in the library. (Translated by Than Tun Aung)

References:
Myanmar Encyclopaedia Volume II
Regional facts about ChaungU Township (Ministry of Home Affairs)
Ancient Amyint City (Maung Maung Chit Oo)
List of ancient buildings (2013)

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