By Thiha (the Traveller @ Thiha Lulin)
I admit I show less interest on tours of Anya regions because of frightening to hotness and dryness of local climatic conditions. Actually, I on my trips to Anya regions grasped chances to observe different traditions and experiences from that of hilly regions. Although Pakokku was seemed to have least travel sites, I preferred it as a town with significant destinations. Even long Ayeyawady Bridge at the entrance to the town is attractive to the travellers.
From Thahtokgu to Pakokku
I read a story that Bagan King Alaungsithu on his tour arrived at Pauk-in Village near the site of current Pakokku Ayeyawady Bridge. Unexpectedly, Mei Seint Nyo, a lower grade wife of the king, died in punishment during the royal trip. The king ordered to take out the embryo baby from the abdomen of the pregnant low grade queen and to bury the body of baby in a tomb on which a pagoda was built. Since then, the area had been named Thahtokgu and later, the title changed to Pakokku after passing many years.
To pay visit to Pakokku
Those wishing to pay visit to Pakokku should travel Bagan-NyaungU at first. Travellers may take highway express buses as well as ships to Pakokku. Those who make trip by air should take a car to Pakokku from Bagan-NyaungU airport along a 45-minute drive route. Travellers bound for Natma Hill in southern Chin State can also take a break in Pakokku. I arrived in Pakokku on my way to Bagan.
Why do you visit Pakokku?
It is because Pakokku is a part of Bagan. Ayeyawady River divides ancient Bagan city and Pakokku. Tantkyi Hill, one of locations for four sacred tooth relics of Lord Buddha, is situated on bank of Pakokku. Ancient cultural heritages mushroom in Pakokku.
Travelling sites in Pakokku
Travellers can tour many sites in a small town without need to take a long time. If they take an adequate time, they can see valuable historical heritages as Anya traditions in villages.
Shweku Pagoda and Thahtokgu
Thahtokgu is located at Shweku Pagoda. Prayer halls and tier-roofed buildings decorated with Myanmar handicrafts were destroyed by fire. But there remains a throne built up with a backdrop decorated with wonderful masterpiece of Myanmar arts and crafts. In fact, the backdrop and the throne for the Buddha image were curved from a large trunk of tree. Sculptors took four years in curving the works of the throne and backdrop. Masterpieces of the backdrop mention performances of Jataka stories. A grandma clarifies the history related to the wonderful backdrop.
Thahtokgu Pagoda is located on the platform of Shweku Pagoda. Thahtokgu Pagoda was lost in scenes of other religious structures. Shweku Pagoda can be seen on Bogyoke Road. One more pagoda takes position next to Shweku Pagoda. Then, the road from Shweku Pagoda leads to PhaungdawU Pagoda.
On his way along Ayeyawady River, King Alaungsithu stopped over its royal raft because of a request by spirit Mei Seint Nyo. He ordered to build a pagoda at the site of stopover. But, the building shows strange architectural works related to Hinduism. The pagoda is on a small platform where a land of victory is arranged. A wide precinct of the pagoda can give a comfortable car park.
PhaungdawU Pagoda takes position on Thida Street where travellers have access to Myoma Street leading to Shwemuhtaw Pagoda.
Shwemuhtaw Pagoda in Pakokku is one of nine pagodas under title of Muhtaw built by King Asoka. Young travellers pay visit to the pagoda for enjoying beauties of Ayeyawady River as well as panoramic views of paddy fields and bridge. A traditional salad shop crowded with customers sells various kinds of salads made of flowers from seasonal plants. Delicacies of salads are the same but leaves and fruits of plants can give relevant medicinal potencies to consumers.
Every Myanmar Buddhist may remember Thihoshin Pagoda whenever they hear the word of Pakokku. It is a Buddha image made of ten kinds of woods. Currently, the central image among the three is genuine Buddha image curved in Ceylon. Significantly, such an image went to Ceylon. It was reported that the image is locked by chains. The backdrop of the image was destroyed by fire. Souvenir shops and Thanakha grafts shops as well as snack shops mushroom around the pagoda.
The pagoda on Tantkyi Hill
Travellers need to drive along 32 miles route from Ayeyawady Bridge to the pagoda enshrined with a sacred tooth relic conveyed from Sri Lanka. The pagoda built by King Anawrahta.
Shwetanttit Tharekkhan Pagoda
It is seven miles from Ayeyawady Bridge. Two large lion statues are symbol of the pagoda. The pagoda was enshrined with a Buddha image made of Tharekkhan wood. Visitors can observe a throne built up with a backdrop decorated with triple floral works within three years.
Hsinkyoh Shweku Pagoda
The pagoda is 15 miles from Ayeyawady Bridge. One more Tharekkhan Buddha image can be seen at Hsinkyoh Shweku Pagoda.
Sithushin Buddha Image in Pakhangyi
First Tharekkhan Buddha image, one of five Buddha images, was conveyed by Ragabala elephant in Pakhangyi. So, a pagoda enshrined with the Buddha image in 480 Myanmar era was entitled Sithushin Pagoda.
Pakhan Monastery, Pakhangyi Village, gate at Pakhangyi city, ShweUmin Monastery
A route from Pakokku to ancient Pakhangyi city or Pakhangyi Village is 20 miles long. Travellers can observe ancient Pakhan city, Pakhan Sithushin Buddha Image and architectural works at Pakhan Monastery built of 254 teak posts. A gold box and a silver box of Ko Gyi Kyaw are kept in a monastery behind Pakhan Monastery. Travellers can pay visits to the gate of walls at Pakhangyi city. They should visit ShweUmin Monastery, north of the ancient city.
Pakhannge (Lover Village) Monastery
Travellers should pay visit to 160-year damaged monastery in Pakhannge (Lover) Village, 24 miles from Pakokku’s Ayeyawady Bridge. It is the largest one among the wooden monasteries across Myanmar. Construction of the monastery took seven years with the use of 332 teak posts. As the original monastery had ruined, a scale model was built in the precinct. The damaged teak posts and brick ladders are displayed in maintenance.
King Asoka built a pagoda enshrined with a Tharekkhan Buddha image atop Shinma Hill. Thanakha plants thriving around the hill are famous for fragrance.
Lodging in Pakokku
Travellers will have many choices for lodging. If they spend night in Pakokku, they can choose Yoma Hotel, Thukha Hotel, Thiri Yadana Hotel, Royal Palace Hotel, Shwe Pyi Sein Hotel, Shwe Yi Oo Hotel and Hotel Juno.
Whenever arrived in Bagan, I stayed at Bagan View Hotel. It serves good buffet breakfast to guests. During my trip, the hotel organized Htamane making contest taking applauses of local and foreign travellers with happiness. Fair room charges attract both local and international travellers. A lacquerware shop can be seen in front of the hotel. Ananda Temple is the closest to the hotel. Travellers can hire e-bike, tuk-tuk and car easily. You can dial 0951320821 of Bagan View Hotel for booking.
Eateries in Pakokku
Those wishing to taste beverages may join Excellent Restaurant and Bar as well as Popa View Bar & Restaurant on the retour.
Gifts for returnees
I would like to direct visitors to buy grafts of Shinmataung Thanakha and Yaw sarongs as gifts on their return from Pakokku. They may also buy plum juice and toffee, tamarind juice and toffee as Anya traditional snacks.
Regard to tour guides and photographers
It is very important for travellers. Travellers need tour guides for their trips not to waste time. Ma Thanda from Bagan can give the best services to travellers not only for the tours of Pakokku and Bagan but also for searching good scenes for photographs. If not, she can provide assistance to travellers for observing historical heritages. Travellers may call her by dialing 09-764317155.
Pakokku is full of historical heritages although it is just an Anya region without so many travelling sites I had seemed. Actually, globetrotters choose Pakokku as a wonderful destination on their trips. Have a safe, healthy and happy trip. Translated by Than Tun Aung