Bago, just 50 miles from Yangon is located between latitude 17°14’ and 17°50’N and longitude 96°24’ and 96°41’E. The area covers 1,121.66 square miles and is bordered by Waw and Thanetpin townships to the east, Hlegu, Taikkyi and Thayawady townships to the west, Kawa township to the south and DaikU and Lepadan townships to the north. It is also composed of three towns (Bago, Phayagyi and Indagaw), 40 wards, and 211 villages of 65 village-tracts.
The Bago Region is a place where ancient Myanmar kings reined. As most of the Myanmar kings were Buddhists, there are still many pagodas, temples and statues constructed by them.
Being a capital of kings, it boasts the city characteristics. The most popular Hanthawady Royal Palace and Kanbawzathadi Palace of Hsinbyumyarshin King Bayintnaung mainly attract the interest of foreign travellers and there are still historic sites and heritage there.
Bago was once called Peku, Otha and Hanthawady. The location of Bago is a place where the ruddy shelduck and Indian Spot-billed Duck pass through, and it was called Wan Be Kuu. Then, it transformed into Bago from Wan Be Kuu and Pegu. After the Bagan era, the merchants from Orissa of India arrived in Bago to trade and they called the city Orissa for its similarity to their state and then, the name became Ottha.
The place of Bago was just a lake and a male and a female ruddy shelduck flew over it and took a rest on a land plot. The Bago city was established on that land plot, currently Hinthagon, and it came to be called Hintha Kyun, Hinthagon and Hanthawady.
Hanthawady Royal Palace
According to the record of the Hanthawady era, the 312 years of the kingdom by Thamala and Vimala to King Tissa was the first Hanthawady era, 186 years from King Banyar Oo to King Thu Shin Taka Ruppi was the second Hanthawady era and another 58 years from King Tabin Shwehti to King Nanda was the third Hanthawady era.
King Bayintnaung established Kanbawzathadi palace on the 13th Waxing of Nataw 915 ME (1553 AD), on Friday. Then, the palace was named Kanbawzathadi.
Minister-General Banyar Dala led the palace construction and each of the other generals was asked to put a teak pillar for the construction of the palace and Pyathat. Moreover, the kings had to take responsibility for the construction of various palace buildings. Meanwhile, they constructed Hanthawady Yazahtani City, the great walls of Shwemawdaw Pagoda and the Pitaka Chamber. All the buildings within the wooden fort were called ‘Kanbawzathadi’. The city containing the outside wall and moat was also established in 1566 AD and it was named Hanthawady City.
The city wall is in a square shape and the city is about one mile and two furlongs in length and one mile and four furlongs from south to west. There are five entrance gates at each city wall and there was a total of 20 city gates. There were 20 small steeples at the city gates. The palace buildings are concentrated in the middle of the city. The main halls are located in the T-shape.
There are eight buildings for the ceremonial occasions of kings
(1) Lion Throne Hall
(Thihathana Palin) at Ground tier-roofed hall, (2) Hanthasana Hall, (3) Baung Taw Hall (Thinkhathana Palin Hall), (4) Gajathana Palin Hall at Byai-Taik, (5) Migathana Throne Hall (South), (6) Padumathana Throne Hall, Mayurathana Throne Hall and (8) Bamayathana throne Hall of King Bayintnaung.
The travel records of Italian Caesar Fredericke and Englishman Ralph Fitch showed that the Hanthawady City is a grand place and the palace is located in the middle of the new city. The main halls are covered with gold. Some of the roofs of buildings were covered with real gold. Therefore, the Golden Palace looked so grand and became a domain for trade in the 16th Century AD.
Exploring the history
The exploration of the Kanbawzathadi palace of King Bayintnaung was launched on 25 April 1991.
The ground-tier-rooted building was reconstructed in 1997 and completed in 2002. It contained Thiha Thana Throne Hall, Samok Hall, left-wing hall and right-wing hall. The Thiha Thana Throne Hall was replaced with 40 concrete poles. There were seven layers of steeples on the roof of the buildings and they were surrounded by four small steeples. The building is 198 feet in height, the left-wing hall and the right-wing hall were 144 feet in width and 56 feet in length, 40 feet in height and reconstructed with 52 concrete poles respectively.
The Samok Hall is located in the middle part and it is 46 feet in length, 38 feet in width, 40 feet in height and constructed with 16 concrete poles. The Thiha Thana Throne Hall displays the Lion Throne and the materials of Kings. It also features the records of political achievement and economic growth made by King Bayintnaung.
Hanthawady archaeological museum
The Hanthawady Archaeological Museum located between 9th and 10th streets of Nandawgon covers 3,600 square feet and one-storey building and is built with an octagonal base. The museum was opened to organizations in 1993 and to the public both foreigners and locals with entrance fees in October 1996 and in May 1997 respectively.
A total of 345 types of ancient archaeological findings from the exploration of Kanbawzathadi Palace and the Bago area are displayed in seven chambers of the museum.
The significant thing about the museum is that the Forest Department expresses the term of a teak pole containing text and another teak pole without text found from the left-wing hall. These teak poles are about 180 years. Moreover, the people can study the huge teak pole, the model of the royal carriage of King Bayintnaung.
The current Kanbawzathadi palace reconstructed in its original structure after the fire stands as a historic building luring the interest of local and foreign travellers.
Therefore, this article is aimed at the youths and those who want to study Myanmar’s cultural heritage at Kanbawzathadi Palace as it claims that the works of art of Myanmar people long ago meet the qualities and standards.