Bago, Myanmar

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Bago-Rundblick von Mahazedi Paya (4).JPG
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Location of Bago, Myanmar
Coordinates: 17°20′12″N96°28′47″E / 17.33667°N 96.47972°E / 17.33667; 96.47972
CountryFlag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar
Division Flag of Bago Division.svg  Bago Region
Township Bago Township
Founded1152 CE
13 ft (4 m)
Bamar Shan Burmese Chinese Burmese Indians Kayin
Time zone UTC+6.30 (MMT)

Bago (formerly spelt Pegu; [1] Burmese : ပဲခူးမြို့; MLCTS : pai: khu: mrui., IPA:  [bəɡó mjo̰] ), formerly known as Hanthawaddy, is a city and the capital of the Bago Region in Myanmar. It is located 91 kilometres (57 mi) north-east of Yangon.



The Burmese name Bago (ပဲခူး) is likely derived from the Mon language place name Bagaw (Mon :ဗဂေါ, [həkɜ̀] ). Until the Burmese government renamed English place names throughout the country in 1989, Bago was known as Pegu. Bago was formerly known as Hanthawaddy (Burmese : ဟံသာဝတီ; Mon :ဟံသာဝတဳHongsawatoi; Pali : Haṃsāvatī; lit. "she who possesses the sheldrake"), the name of a Burmese-Mon kingdom.


The 177 ft (54 m) Shwethalyaung Buddha, constructed in 994 A.D. by King Migadepa Shwethalyaungbuddhabago.jpg
The 177 ft (54 m) Shwethalyaung Buddha, constructed in 994 A.D. by King Migadepa

Various Mon language chronicles report widely divergent foundation dates of Bago, ranging from 573 CE to 1152 CE [note 1] while the Zabu Kuncha , an early 15th century Burmese administrative treatise, states that Pegu was founded in 1276/77 CE. [2] Chinese sources mention Jayavarman VII adding Pegu to the territory of the Khmer Empire in 1195. [3] The earliest extant evidence of Pegu as a place dates only to the late Pagan period (1212 and 1266) [note 2] when it was still a small town, not even a provincial capital. After the collapse of the Pagan Empire, Bago became part of the breakaway Kingdom of Martaban by the 1290s.

The small settlement grew increasingly important in the 14th century as the region became most populous in the Mon-speaking kingdom. In 1369, King Binnya U made Bago the capital. The city remained the capital until the kingdom's fall in 1538.

Portuguese Ruler and his Soldiers-Drawing by Philips, Jan Caspar (engraver) Elefante Portugues.jpg
Portuguese Ruler and his Soldiers-Drawing by Philips, Jan Caspar (engraver)

During the reign of King Razadarit, Bago and Ava Kingdom were engaged in the Forty Years' War. The peaceful reign of Queen Shin Sawbu came to an end when she chose the Buddhist monk Dhammazedi (1471–1492) to succeed her. Under Dhammazedi, Bago became a centre of commerce and Theravada Buddhism.

In 1519, António Correia, then a merchant from the Portuguese casados settlement at Cochin landed in Bago, then known to the Portuguese as Pegu, looking for new markets for pepper from Cochin. [4] [5] A year later, Portuguese India Governor Diogo Lopes de Sequeira sent an ambassador to Pegu.

As a major seaport, the city was frequently visited by Europeans, among these, Gasparo Balbi and Ralph Fitch in the late 1500s. The Europeans often commented on its magnificence.

The king of Pegu receives an envoy (17th century) The king of PEgu recievs an envoy (17th century).jpg
The king of Pegu receives an envoy (17th century)

The Portuguese conquest of Pegu, following the destruction caused by the kings of Tangot and Arrakan in 1599, was described by Manuel de Abreu Mousinho in "Breve discurso em que se conta a conquista do Reino do Pegú na India oriental feita pelos portugueses em tempo do vice-rei Aires de Saldanha, sendo capitão Salvador Ribeiro de Sousa, chamado Massinga, natural de Guimarães, a quem os naturais do Pegú elegeram por seu rei no ano de 1600" (Brief narrative telling the conquest of Pegu in eastern India made by the Portuguese in the time of the viceroy Aires de Saldanha, being captain Salvador Ribeiro de Sousa, called Massinga, born in Guimarães, elected as their king by the natives in the year 1600), published from 1711 to 1829 with "Peregrinaçam" of Fernão Mendes Pinto.

The capital was looted by the viceroy of Toungoo, Minye Thihathu II of Toungoo, and then burned by the viceroy of Arakin during the Burmese–Siamese War (1594–1605). Anaukpetlun wanted to rebuild Hongsawadi, which had been deserted since Nanda Bayin had abandoned it. He was only able to build a temporary palace, however. [6] :151–162,191

The Burmese capital relocated to Ava in 1634. In 1740, the Mon revolted and founded the Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom. However, a Bamar king, Alaungpaya, captured the city in May 1757.

Bago was rebuilt by King Bodawpaya (r. 1782-1819), but by then the river had shifted course, cutting the city off from the sea. It never regained its previous importance. After the Second Anglo-Burmese War, the British annexed Bago in 1852. In 1862, the province of British Burma was formed, and the capital moved to Yangon. The substantial differences between the colloquial and literary pronunciations, as with Burmese words, was a reason of the British corruption "Pegu".

In 1911, Hanthawaddy was described as a district in the Bago (or Pegu) division of Lower Burma. It lay in the home district of Yangon, from which the town was detached to make a separate district in 1880. It had an area of 3,023 square miles (7,830 km2), with a population of 48,411 in 1901, showing an increase of 22% in the past decade. Hanthawaddy and Hinthada were the two most densely populated districts in the province.

Hanthawaddy, as it was constituted in 1911, consisted of a vast plain stretching up from the sea between the mouth of the Irrawaddy River and the Pegu Range. Except the tract of land lying between the Pegu Range on the east and the Yangon River, the country was intersected by numerous tidal creeks, many of which were navigable by large boats and some by steamers. The headquarters of the district was in Rangoon, which was also the sub-divisional headquarters. The second sub-division had its headquarters at Insein, where there were large railway works. Cultivation was almost wholly confined to rice, but there were many vegetable and fruit gardens.

Today, Hanthawaddy is one of the wards of Bago city.



The 2014 Myanmar Census reported that Bago had a population of 254,424, representing 51.8% of Bago Township's total population. [7] The town of Bago is subdivided into 34 wards. [7]


Climate data for Bago, Myanmar (1981–2010)
Average high °C (°F)31.6
Average low °C (°F)15.8
Average rainfall mm (inches)1.3
Source: Norwegian Meteorological Institute [8]

Places of interest

View from Mahazedi Pagoda Bago-Blick von Mahazedi Paya.JPG
View from Mahazedi Pagoda


Health care



  1. A version of the 18th century chronicle Slapat Rajawan as reported by Arthur Phayre (Phayre 1873: 32) states that the settlement was founded in 1116 Buddhist Era (572/573 CE). But another version of the Slapat, used by P.W. Schmidt (Schmidt 1906: 20, 101), states that it was founded on 1st waxing of Mak (Tabodwe) 1116 BE (c. 19 January 573 CE), which it says is equivalent to year 514 of "the third era", without specifying what the era specifically was. However, per (Phayre 1873: 39), one of the "native records" used by Maj. Lloyd says that Pegu was founded in 514 Burmese (Myanmar) Era (1152/1153 CE).
    If the year 514 is indeed the Burmese Era, then the Slapat's 1st waxing of Tabodwe 514 would be 27 December 1152, equivalent to 1st waxing of Tabodwe 1696 BE (not 1116 BE).
  2. (Aung-Thwin 2005: 59) cites the inscription found at the Min-Nan-Thu village near Bagan, which as shown in (SMK Vol. 3 1983: 28–31) was donated by daughter of Theingathu, dated Thursday, 7th waxing of Nanka (Wagaung) 628 ME (8 July 1266), and lists Pegu as Pe-Ku. (Aung-Thwin 2017: 200, 332) updates by saying that the earliest extant inscriptions that mention Pegu date to 1212 and 1266 but does not provide the source of the 1212 inscription. It must be a recent discovery as none of the inscriptions listed in the Ancient Burmese Stone Inscriptions (SMK Vol. 1 1972: 93–102) for years 573 ME (1211/1212) or 574 ME (1212/1213) shows Pe-Ku or Pegu.

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Razadarit King of Hanthawaddy

Razadarit, was king of Hanthawaddy Pegu from 1384 to 1421. He successfully unified his Mon-speaking kingdom, and fended off major assaults by the Burmese-speaking Ava Kingdom (Inwa) in the Forty Years' War. The king also instituted an administrative system that left his successors with a far more integrated kingdom. He is one of the most famous kings in Burmese history.

Mon kingdoms were political establishments by the Mon-speaking people that ruled large sections of present-day Burma (Myanmar) at various times in the last 1200 years. The kingdoms in chronological order are the Thaton Kingdom, the Hanthawaddy Kingdom (1287–1539), and the Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom (1740–1757).

The Thaton Kingdom, Suwarnabhumi, or Thuwunnabumi was a Mon kingdom, believed to have existed in Lower Burma from at least the 4th century BC to the middle of the 11th century AD. One of many Mon kingdoms that existed in modern-day Lower Burma and Thailand, the kingdom was essentially a city-state centered on the city of Thaton. It traded directly with South India and Sri Lanka, and became a primary center of Theravada Buddhism in South-East Asia. Thaton, like other Mon kingdoms, faced the gradual encroachment of the Khmer Empire. But it was the Pagan Kingdom from the north that conquered the fabled kingdom in 1057.

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Binnya U was king of Martaban–Hanthawaddy from 1348 to 1384. His reign was marked by several internal rebellions and external conflicts. He survived the initial rebellions and an invasion by Lan Na by 1353. But from 1364 onwards, his effective rule covered only the Pegu province, albeit the most strategic and powerful of the kingdom's three provinces. Constantly plagued by poor health, U increasingly relied on his sister Maha Dewi to govern. He formally handed her all his powers in 1383 while facing an open rebellion by his eldest son Binnya Nwe, who succeeded him as King Razadarit.

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Binnya Ran II the 17th king of the Kingdom of Hanthawaddy in Burma from 1492 to 1526. He was revered for his gentleness although his first act as king was to enforce the massacre of the kinsmen, putting all the royal offspring to death.

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Nga Yamankan was Governor of Pegu (Bago) from 1077 to 1084, who raised an unsuccessful rebellion against Saw Lu of Pagan Dynasty. He nearly succeeded. He captured and killed Lu. But he was driven out of Upper Burma by Lu's half-brother, Kyansittha and was killed while in retreat.

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Slapat Rajawan Datow Smin Ron, more commonly known as Bago Yazawin, is a Mon language chronicle that covers 17 dynasties from the legendary times to the Hanthawaddy period. Written by an ethnic Mon monk, the chronicle was a religion/legend-centric chronicle although it does cover secular history from Sri Ksetra and Pagan to Hanthawaddy periods. Like the Hmannan Yazawin chronicle of the same period, Slatpat too linked its kings to the Buddha and Buddhist mythology. It was translated into German by P.W. Schmidt in 1906, and into English by R. Halliday in the Journal of the Burma Research Society in 1923. Schmidt's 1906 publication contains a reprint of a Mon language manuscript of the chronicle.

Tarabya of Pegu was the self-proclaimed king of Pegu from c. 1287 to c. 1296. He was one of several regional strongmen who emerged after the fall of the Pagan Empire in 1287.

Akhamaman was the self-proclaimed king of Pegu, in modern Myanmar, with the title of Thunekkhat Yaza from 1285 to c. 1287. He was one of several regional strongmen who emerged during the final years of the Pagan Empire in the 1280s. As the ruler of Pegu, he successfully fended off two attacks by King Narathihapate's forces. After the victory, however, he became deeply unpopular for his increasingly autocratic rule, and was assassinated.

Mon Yazawin, translated from Mon into Burmese by Shwe Naw, is a chronicle about the Hanthawaddy Kingdom as well as of earlier Mon polities. It is one of the two extant chronicles named "Mon Yazawin".

Tala Mi Saw was a princess of Hanthawaddy Pegu. A daughter of King Razadarit, Saw was married to Gen. Smin Bayan. She may have been appointed governor of Martaban in 1442 or 1443 by her brother King Binnya Ran I, after the death of her other brother Viceroy Binnya Kyan.


  1. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Pegu"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 58.
  2. Aung-Thwin 2017: 332
  3. Chatterji, B. (1939). JAYAVARMAN VII (1181-1201 A.D.) (The last of the great monarchs of Cambodia). Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 3, 380. Retrieved September, 2 2020, from
  4. Luís Filipe Tomás (1976). "A viagem de António Correia a Pegu em 1519" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Junta de Investigações do Ultramar, [Lisboa]. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  5. Malekandathil, Pius M C (2010-10-26). "ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF LUSO-INDIAN COMMUNITY in Portuguese Cochin and the maritime trade of India, 1500-6663" (PDF). Pondicherry University. Retrieved 2014-08-05.|
  6. Rajanubhab, D., 2001, Our Wars With the Burmese, Bangkok: White Lotus Co. Ltd., ISBN   9747534584
  7. 1 2 "Bago Township Report" (PDF). 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census. October 2017.
  8. "Myanmar Climate Report" (PDF). Norwegian Meteorological Institute. pp. 23–36. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.


Further reading

Bago, Myanmar
Preceded by
Capital of Hanthawaddy Kingdom
1369 – by 31 March 1539
Succeeded by
End of Kingdom
Preceded by
Capital of Burma
by 31 March 1539 – 30 April 1550
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Capital of Hanthawaddy Kingdom
June 1550 – 12 March 1552
Succeeded by
End of Kingdom
Preceded by
Capital of Burma
12 March 1552 – 19 December 1599
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Capital of Burma
14 May 1613 – 25 January 1635
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Capital of Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom
November 1740 – 6 May 1757
Succeeded by
End of Kingdom

Coordinates: 17°20′N96°29′E / 17.333°N 96.483°E / 17.333; 96.483