Bago is a golden city, originally build during the Mon dynasty. Destroyed by the Burman in 1757 and partially restored in the early 19th century, the city lost prominence when the Bago River changed its course and cut the city off from the sea.
It must have really been something during its heyday, for even now, there is plenty to occupy tourists, Buddhist pilgrims and photographers. Travelling with Karl Grobl on a photography tour, I spend a mid-morning at a monastery and the middle of the day at the local market, before visiting Shwemawdaw and Shwethalyaung Temples in the early afternoon.
The Shwemawdaw Paya or Golden God Temple is a Mon temple originally built in the tenth century, but subsequently rebuilt several times – after major earthquakes. The current pagoda, at 375 feet, is the tallest in Myanmar; some 50 feet taller than Shwedagon.
Not far from the Shwemawdaw Temple, another temple complex houses a 55 metre- (180 ft) long reclining buddha. The Shwethalyaung Buddha was built by King Migadippa I in 994. After Bago was destroyed, the buddha was lost under regrown vegetation for over a hundred years. After it was rediscovered in 1881, the undergrowth was cleared, and in 1906 a tazaung (pavilion) was built over it to protect it from the elements.
We left Shwethalyaung for the two hour drive back to Yangon –
and the next instalment in the Burmese adventure.