PyinOoLwin, famous as Maymyo in the past, is a district level town in Mandalay Region, at 3,538 feet above sea level. PyinOoLwin is known as Maymyo, PyinOoLwin, Taunghlaykha and Hill Station, as a significant tourist destination in Myanmar.
PyinOoLwin, 42 miles from Mandalay, 167 miles from Lashio and 83 miles from Mogok, takes a position on Mandalay-Lashio railroad and highway. It shares border with Nawnghkio Township in the east and north, Patheingyi and Madaya townships in the west and Kyaukse Township in the south.
The National Kandawgyi Garden, the National Landmarks Park, Maha Arnthtoo Kantha Pagoda and Buddha image, Peikchinmyaung Cave, Dattawgyaing, Anisakhan, Wetwun and BE falls are famous among travellers. Likewise, PyinOoLwin Township teeming with hilly areas and forests is home to the Defence Services Academy, the Defence Services Technological Academy, the Central Firefighting Training School, the Central Institute of Civil Service (Upper Myanmar) and the Police Officer Training Depot.
According to the statistics issued in March 2018, 48 government- and private-owned hotels have been operated in PyinOoLwin to accommodate guests at 1,131 rooms. In addition, seven motels, one inn and 100 lodges are also operated for providing accommodation to guests.
Background of PyinOoLwin
The stone inscription posted at Aungmye Bontha Maha Hsutaungpyae Pagoda in Maha Thawbitayama Monastery in PyinOoLwin mentioned PyinOoLwin was established in the reign of King Bagan in Konbaung era in 1850. The stone inscription was carved 66 years after establishment of PyinOoLwin.
The record of the Ministry of Home Affairs which quoted that an order issued in the reign of King Badon on 12 October 1787 mentioned “an order issued in the reign of King Badon expressed the title PyinOo attached to the names of Ohndaw, Hngetkyitheik, Hsingaunggyi and Wetwun villages”. These villages are located near PyinOoLwin. The seasoned people said three PyinOo, Pyingyi and Pyinsar villages would be prosperous simultaneously.
Major May from 5th Bengal Battalion arrived in PyinOoLwin in 1896 and named it as Maymyo. The Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs renamed the city as PyinOoLwin on 18 November 1989 and held the celebration to mark the centennial anniversary of PyinOoLwin from 30 April to 6 May 1996.
PyinOoLwin was a village with title of PyinOo in 1787. Some people assumed that a serviceman of the king arrived in PyinOo Village from Amarapura and called it PyinOoLwin due to beautifying scenes. So, the town was named PyinOo from 1787 to 1850 and PyinOoLwin from 1850 to 1896, Maymyo from 1896 to 1989 and PyinOoLwin from 1989 to date.
Currently, PyinOoLwin Township formed with one town, 21 wards and 116 villages from 37 village-tracts is located on 763.74 square miles of land and the town on 39.53 square miles.
The statistics issued till the end of September 2018 mentioned population of the township reached 180,107, with 76.07 per cent of Bamar ethnic (137,016) residing together with various ethnics. Local people are engaged in cultivation of various flowery plants, sunflower, damson, strawberry and coffee plants and produce wine, sweater and clothes.
Indians and Gurkhas resided in PyinOoLwin in British colonial era. British administrative officers built houses in PyinOoLwin for stay in summer. These remain as colonial era ancient buildings, symbols in PyinOoLwin including the buildings with title of Myaing.
British drew a town plan for PyinOoLwin similar to that of cities in England in 1896. The streets where oat, cherry, pine and sweet chestnut plants thrived were named of British. A 65-acre lake was dredged and named Harcourt Butler Lake. Large houses in British architectural works in 19th century were built in the compound fenced with trees. In 1915, the botanical garden was established.
According to the research of Associate Professor Dr Than Htay Oo of Mandalay Technological University, there remain 85 per cnet of the buildings constructed in the colonial era till today but other buildings were damaged. A total of 109 historical buildings in six kinds including colonial era buildings, religious edifices, railway station, education, health and other offices, bank, recreation centres and buildings existed in PyinOoLwin till 2015.
Symbols in PyinOoLwin
The Percell Tower in downtown PyinOoLwin is an eminent symbol. The clock installed at the tower was manufactured in 1934 to mark the 25th silver jubilee reign of King George V of Britain. Thanks to efforts of Mr Percell and advocate Mr M Azin from Mandalay, Myanmar possessed the clock and it was posted in PyinOoLwin. The clock tower was named Percell Tower in PyinOoLwin in honour of Mr Percell.
The clock tower was built in 1935 and commissioned into service in September 1936. Mr Percell donated K11,000 out of K17,000 and the municipal committee cost the remaining amount. As some parts of the clock were stolen from the tower in 1945, the ring sound of the clock tower temporarily stopped. U Thein of PyinOoLwin strived to regain the stolen parts and refitted them at the clock. So, the Percell Tower gives ring sound till today.
After occupying Myanmar, British built the grand buildings in Yangon and PyinOoLwin for opening offices and residences of commissioners and governors. So, these buildings were named governor houses. The governor house in Yangon was built in the present Presidential House compound on Ahlon Road in Ahlon Township. The governor house in PyinOoLwin was constructed on Mandalay-Lashio Highway in PyinOoLwin. Deputy Governor Sir AH Barnes firstly resided at PyinOoLwin Governor House built in 1903 and completed in 1905. Sir Dorman Smith lastly resided there and left there in April 1942. Then, the house was destroyed by fire. In 2005, the PyinOoLwin governor house was rebuilt in original design and opened as a hotel in 2007.
After occupying upper Myanmar, British set a plan to build a memorial church for the British soldiers who fell in Mandalay in the Royal Mandalay City and cancelled such plan and then built All Saints Church on the opposite site of the governor house in PyinOoLwin. The design of the church was created by architect Mr Seton Morris. Assistant Governor Sir Harvey Adamson laid cornerstones for the building on 3 September 1912.
Coaches, symbol of PyinOoLwin today, were main transport facilities in PyinOoLwin in the colonial era. Indians steered the coaches. At that time, spoke-wheeled carts were used by British officers. Now, such kind of carts are displayed in front of Woodland Café and Hotel PyinOoLwin.
Buildings with title of Myaing in PyinOoLwin
The buildings constructed in in PyinOoLwin in colonial era were titled with Myaing plus flower names such as Cherry Myaing and Yuzana Myaing. Now, some of Myaing buildings are owned by the State and some by private sector.
Among them, the building Nan Myaing known as Craddock Court in colonial era was built on 15 acres of land, congenial to the residence of governor house. Nan Myaing with 32 rooms was owned by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. It was operated as hotel as of 1982 but it is not opened as hotel.
Thiri Myaing (Candacraig) building was constructed in 1914 by Bombay Burma Trading Corporation with 50,000 rupees of cost. Thiri Myaing building was located on more than seven acres of compound together with swimming pool, park and servant quarter where single staff members of Bombay Burman resided. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism opened it as a hotel.
Gandamar Myaing (Croxton) was built by Bombay Burman Corporation in 1903 for the summer houses of families. Now, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism owns it.
Cherry Myaing (Lincluden) was built before the Second World War. It was used as residence for Myanmar Prime Ministers on their arrival in PyinOoLwin in British colonial era. After regaining the independence, it was famous as the Presidential House. Now, the building is being used as the avenue of PyinOoLwin station. Yuzana Myaing (Knowle), the castle shaped red two-storey structure, is not far from Cherry Myaing. In the past, it was used as Tatmadaw guest house.
The building of PyinOoLwin District Forest Department was constructed in 1906 and it was named Jacobstowe. Htinshu Mying under control of the Forest Department was built with a tip roof on the separate building.
Thitsa Myaing (Tapsy Villa) at the junction of Thitsa and circular roads is similar to the castles in Britain. It was owned by BT Brothers and now owned by a local.
In addition, Thazin Myaing, Hninzi Myaing (Penlee), Yadana Myaing (Treasury Officer’s QR), Meza Myaing (Craigho), Myaing Hayma (Pine Lodge) and Myaing Gyi (Sherwood) can be seen in PyinOoLwin. Another significant building on Theinga Street was constructed by Colonel Manor in 1906 and it was named Manor House. In the past, the house was owned by a Hsipaw Saopha and now a local.
Preservation of buildings in colonial era including Myaing buildings is a prestige of PyinOoLwin. Local people of PyinOoLwin should be praised for their efforts of preservation. Maintenance of ancient buildings across the country including that of PyinOoLwin is polishing the historical images of Myanmar as well as safeguarding the historical heritages of the country. (Translated by Than Tun Aung)
Myanmar Encyclopaedia Volume IX
PyinOoLwin in historical events (Maymyo Chit Swe)
Regional facts and figures in PyinOoLwin Township
Heritage Conservation of Historic Built Environment in PyinOoLwin (Dr.Than Htay Oo)