Yangon Central Railway Station

Yangon Railway Station

Yangon Central Railway Station

The first Yangon Central Railway Station in downtown was not the one you see standing nowadays. It was situated south of the present one near Pansodan Street.

According to records, it was only in 1911 that the second Yangon Central Railway station was moved to its current position.

During the Second World War, it was bombed frequently and these bombings destroyed the entire western part of the station according to an article written in the Myanma Railways centennial magazine.

Drawing a new design for a new railway station

At that time, the headquarters of the railways was in Simla, India. Headquarters asked engineer U Hla Thwin in Yangon to submit a new design drawing of the new railway station and the design was approved on 7 May 1946.

Expert on Myanmar architecture Sithu U Tin was assigned to include Myanmar traditional architectural design.

Sayagyi Sithu U Tin also made an all-out effort in producing Myanmar’s traditional architectural styles and designs. English engineers were said to
have commended the Myanmar traditional five-tier roof style topping the four stairwells.

The construction of the new railway station began a year before the country’s independence in 1947, completed in 1954 and opened on 5 June.

Majestic and striking

The railway station consisted of three main buildings and was majestic and striking. As it was now only 65 years old, it will remain strong and sturdy for many more years to come.

The majestic beauty of Yangon’s central railway station with its Myanmar architectural designs was enhanced further by work or artwork that remains alive and prominently featured.

Work on the bronze statues was started on 1 September 1989 and completed on 28 February 1990. The statues were unveiled on 4 March 1990 said the plaque. The plaque further stated that a total of 1,555.56 visses of bronze was used to produce the statues.

The railway station depicts Myanmar’s culture and arts while the bronze Thingyan couple depicts another traditional cultural heritage of Myanmar.

Armenian Orthodox Church

Armenian Orthodox Church

Armenian Orthodox Church

The Law on the Preservation and Protection of Ancient Buildings mentioned that the buildings of more than 100 years old are involved on the list of ancient structures. Among more than 100 years old buildings in various regions of the country, most of the buildings established in the colonial era can be seen in Yangon City.

British constructed residential houses, offices and religious buildings in Yangon City after occupying Myanmar. These buildings are included on the list of ancient buildings at present. Among them, the Armenian Orthodox Church, 157 years old, is the longest life Christian church in Yangon.

Yangon in the history

Mon ethnic people established a fishery village named Dagon in the place of present Yangon between 1028 AD and 1043 AD. King U Aung Zeya who was the first king in the Konbaung era came onto the throne in 1752 AD and established a new Yangon city on 75 acres of land in the area of Dagon Village on 2 May 1755 with the appointment of a city governor.

British occupied lower Myanmar on 20 December 1852 when the Konbaung era had been established for 100 years. In 1853, Dr. W Montgomery and Lt A Fraser drew an urban plan for the implementation of modern Rangoon plan centering Sule Pagoda to establish the lower Myanmar.

According to the Reconstruction of Modern Rangoon 1853, Yangon City was established in the shape of a chessboard pattern. The area of Yangon City was limited on East Road called current Theinbyu Street in the east, Lanmadaw Road in the west, Strand Road in the south and Commissioner Road called Bogyoke Aung San Street at present in the north. Yangon City consisted of five main roads with 180 feet each in width (now Strand Road, Merchant Street, Maha Bandoola Street, Anawrahta Street, and Bogyoke Aung San Street) which stretched from the east to the west and the streets under numbers from the south to the north. The west street of Yangon City was 17th street and the east one, 44th street. Many buildings including Christian churches were established in that area.

Armenian Orthodox Church

Armenian Orthodox ChurchAfter the establishment of modern Yangon City, the Armenian Orthodox Church facing Merchant Street was built on the land plot at the corner of Merchant Street and Bo Aung Kyaw Street in the current Kyauktada Township in 1862. The Orthodox Church built as the earliest Christian missionary church in Yangon has been hosting religious services until today.

Currently, some 20 members of Armenian families residing in Yangon City attend the holy services at the church on Sundays twice a month. Sometimes, when the father from the church is busy, the church postpones hosting the service on Saturday instead of Sunday. At present, there may be about 100 persons of Armenian across Myanmar, said Mr. Steven who guards the church.

Armenians and their relatives who arrive in Yangon for many reasons come to the Armenian Orthodox Church for joining the services.

The Armenian cemetery where bodies of Armenians in Yangon were cremated was located near Jew Cemetery, Islam Cemetery and Christian Cemetery nearby Yangon Railway Station from 1874 to 1980. Now, the cemeteries did not exist there. Mr. Martitossian, one of the Armenians in Yangon, passed away in 2013.

After Portuguese citizens had entered Myanmar, Armenians settled in Thanlyin in 17th century AD to do trading. An ancient Portuguese Church was built at the entrance to Thanlyin in 1749 with the contribution of an Armenian. Some people misunderstood that the tomb in the compound of the church was that of Portuguese Na Zin Kar. It was the tomb of Armenian citizen Nicolas de Agualar who was buried in 1750. The inscriptions on the tomb were described in Portuguese, Latin, and Armenian languages.

Myanmar and Armenians

Armenia is a landlocked country in the Caucasus and Eurasia region, teeming with jungles and hills. It was the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic of the past Soviet Union but it seceded from the Soviet Union on 23 August 1990 to establish the First Republic of Armenia. Armenians enacted Christianity as a State religion in 301 AD.

Khojas, the Armenian merchants, wondered around the world by trading with partners through land route and waterway. They arrived in Myanmar in the early 1550. In the reign of Myanmar kings, they served at Inwa Royal Palace while other Armenians who did not serve the Myanmar king were wealthy by doing businesses in some towns and villages in Myanmar including Amarapura, Mandalay and Yangon.

Henry Yule accompanying the diplomatic delegation led by Major Arthur Phayre who paid a trip to Inwa Royal Palace in upper Myanmar from Yangon of lower Myanmar on 1 August 1855 compiled and published a record of British diplomatic delegation to Inwa.

The record mentioned Armenians had visited Myanmar’s royal palace for many years. Twelve families of Armenians resided in Amarapura. Armenian citizen Makertich J Mines, Malun governor of Myanmar king, welcomed the British diplomatic delegation in Malun to the royal palace. The number of Armenians in Myanmar increased to 1,250 in 1871-1872, up from 40 in 1804.

Armenian entrepreneurs in Yangon City

Armenian merchants Khojas arriving at Yangon were wealthy because of successfully doing businesses.

The Strand Hotel in Yangon City was bought by two Armenian brothers Sarkies in 1901, and they operated the hotel till 1925. Likewise, Armenian Myanmar Pete Arratoon owned the Silver Grill restaurant on Bar Street (now Maha Bandoola Park Street) and Balthazar building on Bank Street. At that time, the Silver Grill restaurant was the best European style restaurant in Yangon.

The family of Armenian entrepreneur Balthazar contributed to erecting the Queen Vitoria Statue in the Fytche Square in 1896. The building of the present US embassy on Merchant Street was owned by the Balthazar family.

Armenian engineers A C Martin and V J Nahapiet took responsibilities for construction of many buildings in the colonial era including Bulloch Broths Building (now Yangon General Post Office) and Bank of Bengal (now Myanma Economic Bank Branch-3) in Yangon City. As such, the buildings installed with the plaque bearing the name of A-C Martin can be seen until today.

Two Armenian Churches

Armenian Orthodox ChurchArmenians started their settlements in Yangon in 18th century AD. As the first-ever Armenian Church was built by Gregory Avas near the Yangon River in 1766, the wooden tip roof of the church can be seen from a far distance.

King Mindon allotted a land plot for the present church. After occupying Yangon, the British allowed Armenians to continuously use the present church area free of charge while building the new city. Unfortunately, the First Armenian Church was destroyed by fire in 1850.

Hence, the Second Armenian Church was built and it was named St. John the Baptist. The church consecrated on 17 January 1863 was famous as Baptist Saint John Church. The church was built with architectural works in the Middle Age of Europe. After completion of the construction, Father Aviet Chaytor arrived first at the church to manage holy services.

As the Yangon Heritage Trust-YHT put a blue plaque at the Armenian Church on 4 October 2014, His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II who came from the First Republic of Armenia unveiled the blue plaque which bears The Armenian Apostolic Church of the St. John the Baptist, 1862 in both Myanmar and English languages.

As YHT has been putting blue plaques at urban heritage buildings in Yangon City, the Armenian Orthodox Church was the third one of bearing the blue plaque as well as the first one among religious edifices in Yangon City.

On the same day, His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II and party served holy mass such as reading the Bible and praying at the Armenian Orthodox Church.

As efforts are being made to revitalize the Armenian faith because the number of Armenians and its faith are lesser in Yangon, some persons join the faith, Mr. Steven disclosed.

According to the Law on the Preservation and Protection of Ancient Buildings, the religious edifices including pagodas, stupas, temples, monasteries, brick monasteries, public rest house and ordination halls, the buildings related to the faiths and brick mounds are inclusive of ancient buildings.

As such, the Armenian Orthodox Church becomes one of the ancient buildings to be maintained and protected by the people.

The 157 years old Armenian Orthodox Church established in 1863 of colonial-era is one of the historic urban heritage in Yangon City.

Three reclining Buddha images in ancient Hanthawady city

Bago Shwe Tha Lyaung
Bago Shwe Tha Lyaung

Three reclining Buddha images in ancient Hanthawady city

Generally, Buddhists keep Buddha images in sitting postures for obeisance at their houses. Various types of sitting Buddha images in many hand postures were built at religious edifices such as pagodas, temples, Buddhists keep Buddha images in sitting stupas and monasteries. However, Buddha images in a walking posture were lesser than standing Buddha images.

Among reclining Buddha images in Myanmar, the one at Winsein Tawya in Mudon Township of Mon State is the largest. Three reclining Buddha images in Bago Township among others in major cities including Yangon are not the biggest but the most significant, crowded with pilgrims on a daily basis.

Bago, a royal city ruled by Mon kings, was famous as Hanthawady in the Yamanya region. So also, it was a royal palace where Second Myanmar Emperor King Bayintnaung Kyawhtin Nawrahta came onto the throne. A total of 17 kings from King Samala to King Tissaraja reigned Bago in the first Hanthawady era (825-1067 AD). Some experts said Hanthawady Royal Palace established by King Samala was not the current place of Bago. King Banya Oo established a new royal palace in Hanthawady which was located in the current place of Bago in the second Hanthawady era (1369- 1538 AD). A total of 11 successive kings from King Banya Oo to King Thushintakayukpi reigned Hanthawady in the second Hanthawady era. King Banya Oo established a new Hanthawady state in the place of old Hanthawady built by King Tissaraja, the last king of the first Hanthawady era.

Ketumati King Tabinshwehti conquered Bago in 1538 AD and moved his throne from Toungoo to Bago. Bayintnaung succeeds to him in Bago in 1551 AD and built Kanbawzathadi Palace in 1553 AD. King Bayintnaung then established the Second Myanmar Empire based on Bago.

Bago, 47 miles northeast of Yangon, is located on Bago River. The town is situated at an altitude of 31 feet. Myanmar Encyclopaedia mentioned Bago was governed by Ngayamankan in the tenure of King Saw Lu in the Bagan era as well as ruled by King Tayaphya who was a son-in-law of Mottama King Magadu. In his reign, King Banya Oo built 16-corner walls for Hanthawady Royal Palace. Places of the walls remain unchanged and the walls can be seen as mounds till today.

Bago, Oktha, Hanthawady

Bago was well-known as Oktha and Hanthawady in the past. The name of Bago was changed from different meanings called in ancient times.

Myanmar Encyclopaedia stated that Bago was the great grandeur in the reign of King Bayintnaung. After King Alaungphaya occupied Hanthawady in 1757 AD, Bago was not well known. Shwemawdaw Pagoda built on Sudassana Hillock or Myinthita Hillock in centre of Bago in the 237 Sasana era is a symbol of the town. Likewise, Shwethalyaung, Myathalyaung, and Seinthalyaung reclining Buddha images are also magnificent ones in Bago. The first two are located in the west of Bago and the last one, in the east.

Shwethalyaung

Shwethalyaung reclining Buddha image is located on the road to Mahazedi Pagoda. Visitors who leave Yangon need to turn left to Shwethalyaung image before arriving at the overpass of the railroad in Bago. The image is 55 meters long (180 feet) and 16 meters high (52 feet). It was built by Mon King Maggadipa in 994 AD but the image was hidden in the bushes for a long time. In 1880, the Buddha image was found in clearing the bushes to construct the railroad. The image was renovated in 1881 and the left side of its pillow rebuilt. The roof and walls of a hall for the image were completed in 1930.

According to the records described on the hall where the image is kept, the reclining Buddha image is 180 feet long and 52.5 feet high, the face 22 feet long, ears 15 feet long each, eyes three feet and nine inches each, eyebrows, eyelids, nose, neck and lips, 7.6 feet long each. The areas from shoulder to the waist of the image, from waist to knee and from knee to foot are 47.5 feet long each. The length from the elbow to the tip of the finger is 45 feet. The length of the little finger is about 10 feet, the foot 25 feet, the big toe six feet and the palm 22 feet.

People in successive eras assumed the well-wisher of Shwethalyaung reclining Buddha image was Mon King Maggadipa but some assumed it was built by King Bayintnaung. The image was enshrined sacred relics and many Buddha images. The forehead of the Buddha has enshrined a piece of real ruby. The robes of the image were gilt, and the image was named Neikban Image, according to the book with the title of “Historical observatories around Hanthawady (Bago)”.

Myathalyaung

Myathalyaung reclining Buddha image located near Shwethalyaung image is bigger than the latter. Myathalyaung image was a rebuilt one on the original hillock. Its original title was Naungdawgyi’s image. It was named by hermit U Khanti because Myathalyaung was located in upper side of Shwethalyaung image and was larger than Shwethalyaung image.

Hermit U Khanti built religious edifices in Bago including the iron stairway connected between Hinthagon Pagoda and Shwemawdaw Pagoda. While carrying out missionary tasks in Bago, the hermit renovated the hillock of the reclining Buddha image. The old hillock of Myathalyaung image seemed to have collapsed brick walls covered by bushes. The entrance to the precinct of Myathalyaung image was made of baked clay bricks based on large blocks of laterite considered as works of ancient Mon culture.

Ancient bricks found near Myathalyaung image were assumed as the works in Dhammazedi era as these were evidences of Mon culture. Ancient Buddha images, bricks and broken glazed bricks found in renovation of Myathalyaung image are displayed at the prayer hall in the image’s precinct. After building Kyaikpun four-faced pagoda, King Dhammazedi constructed a reclining Buddha image under the title of Kyaikthalun, according to the book “Historical observatories around Hanthawady (Bago)”. As the hillock where Myathalyaung image was built was not far from Kyaikpun Pagoda, a precise decision could not be adopted whether Kyaikthalun is Myathalyaung built by King Dhammazedi called Naungdawgyi Buddha image or not. It was because there was no stone inscription on construction of Myathalyaung reclining Buddha image.

Seinthalyaung

Travelers may pay visits to Seinthalyaung reclining Buddha image along the road which turned right from Bago-Thanatpin Road from the exit of Bago. The image, located there before King Dhammazedi, was named Maha Buddharupa as the original title, with 100 elbows in height.

There were two kings with names of Migadibba in the first Hanthawady era. Senior King Migadibba ruled the state from 917 to 932 AD and the junior, from 994 to 1004 AD. Seinthalyaung image was built by junior King Migadibba, who was the 13th successor in the first Hanthawady era. The image was originally named Shinpin Paunghla, and it was recorded as Maha Buddharupa in Kalyani stone inscriptions.

In its history, Hanthawady was established in three eras. The state was ruled by the kings from Samala to Tissaraja in the first era, from Banya Oo to Thushintakayukpi in the second era and Tabinshwehti to Nanda in the third era, lasting for 774 years from 835 to 1599 AD. The long history left significantly ancient heritages in Bago or Oktha or Hanthawady. Despite facing terrible impacts of earthquakes, wars and unscrupulous persons for several times, the three reclining Buddha images significantly exist in Bago
Township till today, showing evidence of Buddhist religious edifices as well as ancient heritages to local and foreign travelers.

National Races Village Yangon

National Races Village Yangon

National Races Villages

You are invited to National Races Villages Union of Myanmar by K Creative

My name is ‘National Races Village Union of Myanmar.’ I live near Thanlyin Bridge in Thaketa Township, Yangon. I was born to the Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs on 28 December 2002.

I’m 17 years old now. As a teenager, I feel needy of many friends. Born to a park species, I have no mouth to speak, no leg to travel and no friend to play except that I have the senses to see, hear and feel.

When I was seven, an amazing thing happened to me. I have found a sacred text that includes how to communicate the feelings of a park to human beings. I remember I was extremely happy at the time as the how-to was exactly the stuff that I yearn to obtain for long times.

So, I tried to practice the theories included in the scared text very hard for several years until I finally gained the power. With power, I could present my feelings to people. But it is not a long time with me, just only a very short time. It lasted only an hour.

When I got the power, I was first unable to decide what communication channel I have to use to communicate with people. The first channel that came into my mind is Facebook which I didn’t choose as I don’t have my personal account of it ready.

Then, I thought about television and By K Creative radio that I then thought they are not suitable for me as I have no attractive face, a well-shaped body structure and a sweet voice like professional actors and presenters.

However, I knew that I am good at writing, especially in English, which I self-studied from the books that were left by the globe-travelers while they visited me.

As I previously saw the “Invitation to the young writer to Sunday Special” of the Global New Light of Myanmar, I sent my letter there by email. After I emailed the letter, the time I got the power was over. Now I pray, “may my letter be published in the newspaper.”

If my letter is published,… You are invited to me (National Races Village) to speak with me. You can see the beauties of traditional houses and cultures of the national races of Myanmar.

I am available from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm every day except the Myanmar holidays to entertain you. You can also enjoy the beauty of the Bago River which is located beside me.

I hope you come to me. If you visit me, I can serve you the best natural beauties and the rich cultural varieties of the country.

My dear… please tell something to me when you visit. I want to listen to you. Many people visited me, but no one spoke to me. They were just talking to each other.

Let me hear and see you. These are all about what I yearning for communicating with you. I hope to see you soon. May you be well and happy.

Kyaik Pun Four-Faced Pagoda

Kyaik Pun Four-Faced Pagoda

Kyaik Pun Four-Faced Pagoda

Kyaikpun – Four-Faced Pagoda by Maung Tha (Archaeology)

The precinct of the four-faced pagoda can be seen on the left side of Yangon-Mandalay Highway. The ancient pagoda built by King Dhammazedi (1472-1492 AD) with four Buddha images in positions of back to back structures is renowned as Kyaikpun Pagoda.

The pagoda is located in Okta Myothit extended ward, 47 miles and four furlongs distance from Yangon and two miles and six furlongs southwest of Bago.

Kyaikpun of four Buddha images

In the Mon language, Kyaik means Buddha and Pun, four. The whole word of Kyaikpun means four Buddhas. Kyaikpun Pagoda was built with the Buddha image in the east dedicating to Kakusanda Buddha, in the west to Kassapa Buddha, in the south to Konagamana Buddha and the north to Gotama Buddha.

The outer wall of pagoda’s precinct is 1,050 feet long each on each side and the inner wall, 525 feet long on each face. A saying stated a total of 10,000 persons took seven months in building the walls. The original brick walls can be seen until today.

King Dhammazedi assigned Counsellor Thamein Thekkadewa as head for building four Buddha images and ordered him to select the land plot in Thalekontan in the west of Hanthawady-Bago. After choosing the land plot, the king who led the troops left Hanthawady Royal Palace and then stationed at the place in the straight forwards of the mound where the pagoda will be built. Then, the king himself managed all tasks of construction.

The king ordered sculptors and masons to make more than 100 Buddha images and then selected four favorite images among them. In line with the models as selected, four Buddha images with 40 elbows each in height and an 80-elbow pagoda were built. It was reported that the images were built with teak timber pieces at the shoulders, arms, jaws, and ears.

Four feet long and eight inches breadth quadrangular laterite pieces were vertically inserted into the back-drops of the images in two feet space each for the strengthening of structures. Moreover, a large prayer hall was also built in the precinct of the pagoda.

Record stone inscription

The stone inscription on the construction of the pagoda in Mon language was posted 50 feet to the brick structure at the southeast corner of the precinct.

The stone inscription mentions the construction of four Buddha images and the pagoda for the worship of the people and the large prayer hall. The reliquary was built on the 1st waning of Tabodwe, 837 Myanmar era. The posts of the prayer hall were erected on the 12th waxing of late Tagu.

A red signboard kept in the stone inscription chamber mentions Kyaikpun Pagoda’s stone inscription, saying that “King Dhammazedi of Hanthawady built four Buddha images of Kyaikpun Pagoda on 1st waning of Tabodwe, 837 Myanmar era. The stone inscription was erected at the southeast corner of the pagoda. The stone inscription was described in the annual report of the Archaeology Branch in 1915, and it was included on the appendix list (19) of Myanmar stone inscription list book in English published in 1921, and it had been mentioned in the Part I of Volume 4 of Myanmar stone inscriptions book published in English.”

Preparations were made with hanging pieces of white textiles in the prayer hall erected with a diamond-shaped fence to build the pagoda. The reliquary in the centre of the brick pivot was also decorated with beauties, surrounded with goglets and oil lamps in rows. The throne was lit with candle lights.

A total of 273 statues of objects—two Agga Savaka images, 80 Savaka images, 13 Etadagga recipient members of the Sangha, 11 Etadagga recipient male disciples, 10 Etadagga recipient female disciples, the mother statue of the Lord Buddha, the father statue of the Lord Buddha, the statue of celestial king, the Brahma statue, statues of four Lokapala celestial beings, the statue of Beikthanoe, the statue of Paramesuara, the statue of Samira, statues of 59 venerable Buddhist monks and statues of nuns—were enshrined at the pagoda.

Construction of four Buddha images and the prayer hall completed on 14th waxing of Kason, 838 Myanmar era. On the full moon day of Kason, King Dhammazedi offered alms to 400 members of the Sangha who consecrated the pagoda. The ceremony to mark the successful completion of the pagoda construction was held on a grand scale and more than servants were donated for the pagoda.

Kyaikpun in impacts of an earthquake

Myanmar kings renovated Kyaikpun Pagoda in successive eras. Toungoo King Tabinshwehti gilt four Buddha images in the 904 Myanmar era. King Bayintnaung donated 527 visses of silver for the renovation of collapsed and damaged pagodas across the nation, 13 visses of which was spent on gilding the prayer hall built by King Dhammazedi.

The pagoda on the top of a pivot from Kyaikpun Pagoda collapsed in an earthquake which jolted in Thadingyut of 926 Myanmar era. The earthquake caused damage to the concrete layer of the images. King Bayintnaung sent Counsellor Baya Thingyan to the pagoda for renovation. As the renovation tasks completed in the 929 Myanmar era, King Bayintnaung himself hoisted the umbrella atop the pagoda.

An earthquake that hit in Tawthalin of 952 Myanmar era caused falling of the umbrella on the ground. King Nanda, son of King Bayintnaung, hoisted the new umbrella atop the pagoda in Waso of 953 Myanmar era. The prayer hall of the pagoda was burnt by foreigners in the 962 Myanmar era, causing cracks at the Buddha image. So, the Abbot of Neikban Kalaing ordination hall monastery led disciples in renovating the pagoda and hoisting the new umbrella atop the pagoda in 963 Myanmar era.

On the 6th waxing of Tabaung, 1151 Myanmar era, the pagoda collapsed in one more earthquake again. The servants rebuilt the new pagoda.

In the 1121 Myanmar era, King Alaungmintayagyi together with the first queen, sons, and daughters, arrived in Bago and made cash donations for the renovation of the monastery. Due to the assignment of the king, Head of Zaingganai Village U Shwe Bee repaired the Buddha images which faced cracks of concrete layers.

An earthquake in the 1250 Myanmar era caused collapse to the pagoda from the bell-shaped structure. Four Buddha images were damaged at heads, shoulders, and arms. Staff members of the Land Records Department from Bago and four well-wishers renovated the pagoda in original works in the 1283 Myanmar era. Four well-wishers renovated four Buddha images. The pagoda suffered from impacts of another earthquake in the 1292 Myanmar era and it was repaired by donors.

The Buddha Pujaniya festival of Kyaikpun four-faced pagoda was organized by the farmland officer of the Bago region in the 1264 Myanmar era. Up to now, the Buddha Pujaniya festival has been held annually on the full moon day of Kason.

Neikban Kalaing ordination hall repaired by King Alaungmintayagyi can be seen on the east side of the road to the Buddha images in the precinct. Large posts of the ordination hall, as well as old laterite Buddha images, can be seen till today. Visitors can see pieces of broken ancient laterite statues around the ordination hall.

Although historic Kyaikpun four-faced pagoda had suffered damage for many times due to impacts of earthquakes and destruction of war, people renovated it in successive eras. As a result, the pagoda is crowded with pilgrims till today.

Kyaik Pun Four-Faced Pagoda

Zoological Garden Yangon

Yangon Zoo

Zoological Garden Yangon

Life is a struggle; everyone, rich or poor, makes a living to make sure there is a regular meal on the table notwithstanding the difference in the extent of hardships. This shows no exception to me. A lot of work has busied me most of the days, hardly leaving time to spend with my family.

In this way, I have been unable to take care of my children, let alone involved in social affairs. A proverb goes, ‘All work and no play make Jack a dull boy’. Therefore, like everybody, I must seek an outlet or a place of escape from the tiring daily routines. So I thought of a nice place to keep myself from the humdrum chores and ended up deciding to visit the Yangon Zoo with my family.

Those who felt happiest with the idea were none other than my son and daughter. We were in our car driving to the zoo. The children were completely lost in a conversation and very often burst into laughter in unison while I was driving with hefty care. It took us thirty minutes or so to get to the zoo.

On seeing its gate, my children shouted with joy and got out of the car and rushed to the entry ticket booth. There was a board that read, ‘Don’t feed the animals any outside food or drink.’ To get tickets, we had to queue up in a long line with other holiday-makers for fifteen minutes.

As soon as we stepped into the zoo, what came insight was the green lush environment which is different from the concrete world we are living in. Besides, the noises coming from afar sounded so much like a choir song to our ears. The noises and the scene made a perfect match indeed, seemingly defining that area.

As we walked in, we got to know where those noises had originated from. We saw various species of monkeys, and my children fed them bananas after observing them for some time. I also took a photo of my son feeding the baby monkey in a cage.

Then, we moved on to the cage of birds. It was found that each cage holds a different species of bird. Some seemed to be tamed and some hostile. Some were perching on the branches while others were asleep, crouching in the nests. The hornbills have big yellowish beaks. One of the vultures was seen gazing at something with its great wings spread and its neck craned as if something interesting had captured all its attention.

It was fun to see the peacock dancing with its tail which was kept upright, spread, and often shaken – very similar to waving a fan. Later, we got some fishy smell as we approached the sanctuaries for seals, hippopotamus, and crocodiles. They belong to the amphibians or live both in water and on land. We saw people feeding the seals some small fish.

The most noticeable characteristic of hippos was that they have very big, wide mouth for a watermelon to get in as a whole and very long, strong teeth to chew food into pieces. As usual, the crocodiles were lying with their mouths open. I had to warn my children not to take a chance.

From there, we proceeded to the snakes’ house. Again, I told the children not to go too close to the creatures. In the hollow trunk, a python, which seemed female, was coiling itself around the eggs. There were also cobras, green snakes, and other unknown species placed inside tall glass boxes. Apart from the snakes, the same place offered a colorful display of fish of various descriptions.

We arrived at the elephant camp after a few minutes’ walks from the snakes’ house. To me, the way their long legs take one step after another is very elegant and quite similar to dance moves. Their trunks reached us and we understood that they were hungry. So we fed them a few logs of sugarcane and bananas.

We also rode an elephant and it was very exciting being on the back of the elephant. At noon, we took a break for lunch on the lawn by a lake so that we can enjoy our lunch as well as the romantic sight of a couple of cranes swimming in the lake. Three little kayaks were carrying young couples having a great time too.

My children did not fail to ask me for a kayak ride. But I had to refuse because I did not know how to row a kayak properly. We resumed strolling around the zoo at 2 p.m. when we felt refreshed. A few yards from the elephants stand the tigers’ cage, the lions’ cage, the wildcats’ cage, and the black bears’ cage.

The lion was roaming around within the cage, and it looked too thin and hungry. Suddenly, it shook its head and ruffled its mane, followed by a lazy yawn. Meanwhile, the white tiger was already taking a nap, and the wildcats were also lying calmly licking each other as if to say, “So far, so good.”

We did not forget to visit the black bears, either. There, we saw that a mother bear breastfeeding her cubs. Next, we walked down to the place where such animals as deer, horses, zebras, donkeys, giraffes, camels and rhinoceros could be seen.

I paid for my children’s horseback riding – not a swift one. They found it very much to their liking as they happened to be gently rocked by every gait the horse took. They said it was considered luxurious.

After it, they fed the giraffes. To our surprise, one of the giraffes lowered its head and licked my daughter’s face. She was frightened and immediately restored to calmness when she noticed that the animal did not mean to attack her. She was even more in love with it.

Moreover, it was really funny to interact with apes. They were very clever because they could instantly imitate what humans did within their sight. They were not only smart but also entertaining. When one of them turned three somersaults, there was noisy applause from the onlookers. Surprisingly, another ape grinned and spat at it, which caused us to be plunged into mirth.

The cutest of all the cutest were rabbits and guinea pigs, almost always found to be gnawing something. Some of them had red eyes. They were very timid or afraid of humans. Some were eating watercress and carrots with great relish. Then, my children began to insist on buying them a rabbit. I had to make them convinced that animals tend to feel sad about being kept at homes and they naturally prefer to live in the wild.

Maps of the zoo are erected in many places to help the zoo-goers locate the animals, or choose the right path. Therefore, we could take the right way out with the help of the maps. It was about 4:15 p.m. when we all got in the car.

On the way back home, we happily recounted what we did and what happened to us. Soon, both of them fell asleep hugging the toy rabbits tightly. Perhaps they were dreaming about playing with the rabbits. That day was so filled with wonderful emotions that I believe it would mark a memorable event in the minds of my children.

Yangon Zoo by Thu Naung Kyaw (Hledan) Dip. in English (YUFL)

Independent Monument

Independence Monument

Independent Monument

After more than 100 years of the British Colonial Rule, our country emerged as the Sovereign State of the Republic of the Union of Burma (Myanmar) on the 4th of January 1948. Thus Burma (Myanmar Nainggan) has existed as the Sovereign State since 1948. This year the 71st Anniversary of the Myanmar Independence falls on the 4th of January 2019.

At the center of the city of Yangon, there stands the revered Sule Pagoda, the magnificent Yangon City Hall, the High Court Building, the Union Bank of Myanmar (now Myawaddy Bank) and the Myanmar Ah Swe Co., Limited (now the Ministry of Tourism to be demolished). Not far from these buildings the Independent Monument was erected at the center of Mahabandoola Garden (Fytch Square Park in the pre-war days) on the 4th of January 1948. Every passer-by walking along the street in front of the monument praises it as the legacy of independence.

At exactly 4:20 A.M. in the chilly morning of the 4th January 1948, the Grand Ceremony of the transfer of power took place in front of the Constituent Assembly in the Secretariat (now old minister’s office). At this ceremony, the union jack flag was lowered from the top of flag post and the union flag was hoisted to the top of flag post accompanied by the state orchestra which played the “God save the king” and “National Anthem“. The ceremony was attended by the speaker of the Constituent Assembly President, the first Prime Minister, the Cabinet Ministers, the EC members of the AFPFL (Antifascist People Freedom League), Daw Khin Kyi (widow of the late Bogyoke Aung San), the members of the diplomatic corps and the distinguished guests.

The H.M.S Birmingham, the British Frigate, which anchored in the mid-stream of the Rangoon River, fired a 21-gun salute to signify the time of the transfer of power. After the historic ceremony, the Constituent Assembly was convened with the declaration of Burma independence by President Sao Shwe Thike. At 8:30 A.M. the groundbreaking ceremony at the center of Mahabandoola Garden was held to construct the independence monument. At this ceremony, Prime Minister Tha Khin Nu delivered an Independence Day Speech and laid foundation stone, and the Mayor of Rangoon City read out the declaration of Burma Independence paper. Engineer U Ohn Kyi of the port commissioner drafted a blueprint and the A.C. Martin Co. guaranteed the whole construction work of the monument. The supervisory committee of construction includes U Ohn Kyaing (Engineer and Architect), U Kyaw Sein (Chief Engineer of the National Housing Board), and Sithu U Tin (Building Engineer of the Municipal Corporation).

The construction works started on 6th October 1948 and ended towards the end of 1949. It costs about kyats Five Hundred Thousand.

The height of the monument is 155ft a little lower than the Sule Pagoda and its depth is 10ft. It was reinforced with iron rods, mortar. and rock to withstand an earthquake, strong wind, heavy rain, and cyclone. The tram-way rail tracks were used as a circular-shaped base of the 50ft diameter under the ground. The central pillar is surrounded by five small pillars. It portrays the original union flag in which the Burma proper (central Myanmar) is surrounded by five ethnic states. The whole structure looks like a big star surrounded by five small stars. If you happen to be standing and looking down from the sky, you can see the Union of the flag of Burma.

The circular base of the monument was laid with Italian marbles and installed with stairs. Six big lion statues and six small lion statues were also placed in equal spaces at the circular fringe. A lightning conductor was installed at the top of the central pillar.

The following Mawgun Manograps are inscribed on the stone surface of the monument in Myanmar language

“Independent Mawgun Monument of the Union of Burma”.

“Our Country has attained the sovereign state of the Republic of the Union of Burma on Sunday, the 9th waning of Pyartho, 1309 M.E.”

“The groundbreaking speech delivered by Prime Minister Thakin Nu on Sunday, the 9th waning of Pyartho, 1309 M.E.”

“The Independence Day speech delivered by Prime Minister Thakin Nu at the Constituent Assembly”.

“Extracts from Bogyoke Aung San’s Speeches”

“Nine Oaths of Allegiance”

The grand opening ceremony of the monument was held on January 1950 with a variety of festivities.

Interesting places of the past in Yangon by Maung Khine Zaw

History of Cinema Hall in Yangon

Old Myanmar movie theatre
Waziya cinema hall

History of Cinema Halls in the Yangon City

The Myanmar motion picture appeared round about the year 1920 in the city of Rangoon (Yangon). A few cinema halls were showing the foreign movies long before the first Myanmar motion picture was shown. It is assumed that the earliest small cinema hall was situated at the corner of Canal Street (now Anawrahta Road) and Godwin Road (now Myoma Kyaung Street). It was called Edison cinema hall built with canvas. Inside the hall, the audience was charged with a few coins of the Indian Rupee for mats and benches. The movies mostly shown were just fragments without a story.

In the year 1915-16, a new cinema hall “Cinema de Paris” built with a galvanized iron sheet was inaugurated to show the foreign motion pictures. It was owned by a foreigner Mr. A. H. Ahachar and built on the vacant plot of Scott Market. Not long after this new hall appeared, two new cinema halls “Elephant Stone” and “New Pharasi Empire” had sprung up adjacent to this theatre. The movies shown at these theatres were all silent pictures and the Indo-Burma musicians played the movie songs inside the theatre.

In 1920, the first Myanmar motion picture “Love and Liqueur” – a love story had appeared and was shown at the Cinema de Paris theatre, drawing a large crowd of the city dwellers. In those days all the cinema halls were located only in the centre of the city. The Indian businessmen constructed many new cinema halls round about the year 1920. A few years later, Cinema de Paris and Elephant Stone theatres were demolished to let the new Scott Market to be built on this plot of land. Mr. A. E. H. Ahachar, the owner of Cinema de Paris and Elephant Stone, built a new cinema hall “Royal” quickly at the corner of Montgomery Road (now Bogyoke Aung San Road) and 30th Street.

Many new cinema halls had sprung up along the Sule Pagoda Road, Montgomery Road and Phayre Street (now Pansodan Street) one after another. Globe, Palladium, Majestic, Hipodrone or Dagon Cinema had sprung up in the Sule Pagoda Road while Pathi Cinema, Royal, Excelsior, King Cinema, and Olympia were constructed along the Montgomery Road. At the middle block of Phayre Street, there were Elephant Stone, Queen Cinema Hall, Cinema de Paris, and Sharhall which have sprung up one after another. In Addition to these new theatres, there appeared two new halls – Dosonni on the Fraser Road (now Anawrahta Road) and Kathay on the Canal Street.

In those days all the cinema halls or movie theatres were owned by Indian nationals. There were only ten film companies which produced only 36 Myanmar motion pictures (all silent movies) in one year. These film companies were British Burma, A-1, Parrot, Yangon Yokeshin, Shwe Myint Mo, Shwe Pyi Soe, B. T. Tin, Zabu Meik Swe, East Inn, and Bagyat Burma.

At its early stage of showing the motion pictures, almost all the cinema halls had been changed to new names, thereby Queen cinema, Elephant Stone, Cinema de Paris, Dosonni, Majestic, and Pathi cinema became Star, Jamal, Gayti, Joti, Plazar, and Elite respectively. In the meantime, Plazar cinema hall had been changed to Odeon again.

All these cinema halls had shown the American and British silent movies only. Only a few cinema halls had shown the Myanmar silent movies. The British Burma Film Co., Ltd. which produced most of the Myanmar motion pictures had rented Star cinema hall by signing a contract for 6 1/2 years at the rate of Rupees 6,000 per month and had shown the motion pictures produced by its company.

Meanwhile, managing director of the British Burma Film Co. U Nyunt asked for financial assistance from a wealthy person Sir U Thwin and built “Thwin Cinema Hall” in 1937 at a cost about Rs. 170,000. It was the first cinema hall owned by the Myanmar national. The opening ceremony of the new cinema hall was inaugurated on 1st January 1937 with a show Myanmar talkie movie “Taw Lay Wa” directed by U Maung Gyi, starring Ba Tint and May May Win. In those days there were only four cinema halls which usually showed the Myanmar motion pictures, viz: Star, Olympia, Thwin and King cinema halls. Odeon and Dagon cinema halls had shown the Myanmar motion pictures occasionally. It was the normal condition of the cinema halls in the downtown Rangoon.

The wartime during the Japanese Regime

When the Second World War broke out in December 1941, the city dwellers left the city and took refuge at Sagaing Hill and Po Wun Hill to avoid the Japanese and Allied bombings. Those who were left behind in the city took refuge at the pagodas, monasteries, nunneries, and Zayats. Especially Bahan, Kandawgyi and its environs were very busy with the war refugees. Lwin Lwin, Kandawmeik, Kandaw Mingalar, and Myine became the prominent cinema halls and pyazat halls later.

As no more imported film was available, the whole movie industry came to a standstill. Repeated showings of the Myanmar motion pictures which were filmed before the War made the people feel bored. So they flocked to these cinema halls to enjoy the Myanmar Pyazats.

During the wartime, the cinema halls which had usually shown the foreign movies were changed into Myanmar names and showed the Myanmar motion pictures. Thus, Odeon became Yangon Yokeshin Yontaw and showed the Myanmar motion pictures which were filmed by Yangon Yokeshin Co., Ltd. before the War. Geiti became Mingalar Myint which showed the B. T. Tin Co’s motion pictures, viz: “Chit Tai Zaw”, “Ye Nyi Naung” etc. Shar Hall became Shwe Myint Mo which showed the Shwe Myint Mo’s movies.

Similarly, Excelsior, Joti, and Jamar became A-1 Yontaw, Yan Aung Cinema, and Khit Thit cinema halls respectively and showed old Myanmar movies.

There was a new cinema hall sprung up at the football ground of Sanchaung quarter to show the Japanese propaganda and documentary films only.

At the beginning of the Japanese Regime, the film shows were held at downtown Yangon only during the months from May to November 1942. As the Allied bombers intensified, the film shows were shifted to Bahan and Kandawgyi areas where the silent movies were shown intermittently among the Myanmar Pyazats at recently built thatch-roofed cinema halls. The Myanmar movie artists took part in the performance of Pyazats for their livelihood.

The Post War Era

When the Second World War came to an end in August 1945, the Myanmar movie industry did not come to life immediately. Meanwhile, the old Myanmar movies which were filmed before the war were shown again. The pyazat era which began in the Japanese Regime had become flourished not only at the Pyazats halls near Kandawgyi but also at the downtown cinema halls which were repaired to stage pyazats.

Star cinema hall on Phayre Street became Win Win Pyazat hall where Pyazats directed by Dagon Saya Tin, Bogalay Tint Aung, Kyuntaw Chit Maung and Pyaw taw set Than Nwe were staged. Kathay pyazat hall on the Canal Street staged pyazats in competition with Win Win Pyazat hall. Olympia Cinema hall which had shown only the Myanmar movies before the war was damaged heavily by the Allied bombings and left with bricks only. Thwin cinema hall which was also damaged during the war was repaired and restored to its original status to show the British Burma Company’s movies.

Along the Sule Pagoda Road, the name changing process took place at some of the movie theatres. Odeon, Dagon Cinema, and Elite became Ritz, Regent and Carlton movie theatres respectively. However, Globe, Palladium and Royal movie theatres have remained intact. Ritz and Geiti, Shar Hall, Jamar near Pansodan and Joti on the Anawrahta Road showed the India movies.

There stood Zaw Cinema hall in Pazundaung quarter, Shwe Taing Thiri movie theatre which was built in 1946 at Kyeemyindaing quarter, west Yangon which showed the old American, English and Myanmar movies.

In the year 1953 and 1954, the movie theatres in the vicinity of Myaynigone had sprung up one after another. Sun Thiri and Yatanapon were the earliest movie theatres ever built at Myaynigone roundabout and Wizaya near the Resistance Park (Kuppali Kwet Thit at that time) had also appeared one by one. Shweman movie theatre was built on the vacant plot which was formerly a pond. The pond was piled on with earth to build the movie theatre Shweman.

At that time the Myanmar silent movies had become almost disappeared as the Myanmar talkie movies became popular, the new movie theatres appeared in the Yangon’s suburbs to show the Myanmar talkie movies. They are Mya Nan Theingi on the Yangon-Insein Road near the Kamaryut railway station, Mayosan and Shwe Baho on the Majit Road (now Thamain Bayan Road), the Tamwe area.

In the year 1955, the new era of foreign movies had begun when the black and white film became out-dated, and the Technicolor, 4-track Stereophonic sound and Vista-vision movies became popular in the country. At this juncture to show the Cinemascope and Vista-vision films in place of 35mm films, the normal-sized screen had to be renovated as widescreen.

As the Myanmar talkie movies were screened almost everywhere in the country, the music troupes disappeared from the movie theatres where the silent movies had been screened.

The new movie theatres like Shwegon, Myoma, and Sudupan were constructed on the vacant plot where Olympia cinema hall was damaged heavily during the War. Lighthouse and Nay Pyi Taw were new movie theatres built on the Sule Pagoda Road near the Kyauktada Police Station. Sanpya cinema hall was built at the corner of Canal (now Anawrahta Road) and Phongyi Streets in Lanmadaw area.

In the year 1960, a rich man U Kyauk Sein built a large and modernized Thamada Cinema hall at the corner of Signal Pagoda Road (now Alan Pya Phaya Road) and York Road (now Yaw Min Gyi Street). It includes a hotel, restaurant, reception hall and movie theatre with a large screen for 70 mm films. Meanwhile, old Palladium movie theatre was renovated and modernized with a new name “new Palladium” on the Sule Pagoda Road. It was inaugurated with William Wyler’s 1959 Academy awarded film “Ben Hur”.

It is the actual situation of the movie theatres at downtown Yangon and its suburbs from the year the Myanmar movie emerged and came into prominence up to the year 1960.

In those days all the movie theatres were owned by private individuals. Immediately after the nationalization of the privately owned movie theatres took place all over the country, all the alien names of the movie theatres especially in English and Indian were changed to Myanmar names. Thus, Globe, New Palladium, Ritz, Excelsior, Carlton, Royal, Joti, Lighthouse, and Cathey became Gon, Pa Pa Win, Ye Yint, Waziyar, Yuzana, Taw Win, Thiha, Shay Saung, and Kay Thwe respectively.

Once famous among movie fans Gon (Globe) and Pa Pa Win (New Palladium) were razed to the ground and in place of them mushroomed the Shangri-La’s Traders Hotel during the military government. The government demolished many movie theatres leaving Thamada, Waziyar, Thwin, Shay Saung and Nay Pyi Taw intact.

Interesting places of the past in Yangon by Maung Khine Zaw

Yangon City Hall

Yangon City Hall

City Hall in the City of Yangon

The magnificent City Hall is situated at the center of Yangon nearest to the Sule Pagoda, the High Court building, the Mahabandoola Garden and the Independence Monument. All Myanmar citizens are proud of this magnificent building because most foreign visitors have the honor to praise its wonderful architectural design.

Who built this building?

In 1922, the then strong political party General Council of Burmese Association – GCBA was split into two factions, namely Wuntharnu Party headed by U Chit Hlaing and 21-member Party headed by U Ba Pe popularly known as Bagyi Ba Pe. The cause of the split was to decide the motion whether to participate in Dyarchy Election or not. U Chit Hlaing Party was against the motion and U Ba Pe Party accepted. U Ba Pe was a patriotic political leader in those days.

U Ba Pe had adviced Ragoon Municipality (Municipal Corporation) to build a city hall in the center of Yangon. At the meeting of Rangoon Municipal Corporation held on 9th October, 1928 accepted U Ba Pe’s advice to build the City Hall. According to its decision, the Municipal Corporation estimated the cost of construction to be incurred and entrusted Mr. Brei, the architect, with the task of drawing the building design. The Corporation chose the plot of land to build the city hall. On this plot of land, the former Rippon Hall was built many years ago and later demolished. Mr. Brei submitted his report to the Corporation with the estimated cost of Indian Rupees two million.

However, the Corporation was not pleased with Mr. Brei’s design which was modernized but not reflected Myanmar traditional culture. The Corporation suggested Mr. Brei study the Mandalay palace where he could draw a new design with Myanmar cultural style. Mr. Brei again drew his new design to the best of his ability. It took about six months. However, the Corporation rejected his new design because of the lack of tradition and matter associated with Myanmar culture.

In the meantime, the Corporation requested a well known Myanmar architect U Tin (later Sithu U Tin) to draw and submit a new plan. U Tin being skillful in architecture drew a new plan which was very much modernized with finial.

On 5th November 1929, the Corporation held its meeting and decided to accept U Tin’s new design with which they were pleased. After taking about four years for collecting the building materials and necessary items and planning, construction began on April 1934.

It cost about Indian Rupees 1,800,000 for the construction of Myanmar’s prestigious City Hall, and the construction was totally completed in May 1936. Sir Archibald Cochrane, the then Governor of Burma, inaugurated the newly constructed City Hall on 15th May of the same year.

It planned to make four entrances to the City Hall which was grandiosely constructed with Myanmar style. As there is the balcony equipped with dragon and peacock idols at the entrance from the Mahabandoola Garden, even the architects of the western countries gazed at the City Hall.

In addition to two large assembly halls in the four-storied building, water and sewage department, road and building department, health department, information department, administrative department, revenue department, motor vehicle department and other departments associated with the city development affairs are constituted together in one building.

Historic Events taking place at the City Hall in the Past

  1. On 29th August 1945, our national leader Bogyoke Aung San delivered an address in the English language at the meeting of East and West Association held in the assembly hall of the City Hall just after the World War II. The title of the speech was “The Resistance Movement” explaining why the Burmese people launched anti-British imperialism and co-operated with the Japanese during the war.
  2. On 13th July 1947, Bogyoke Aung San delivered an important address from the balcony of the City Hall to a large gathering of people. It was his last rally before he was assassinated on 19th July.
  3. Since 1980 the National Days and the National Day Exhibitions have been celebrated at the City Hall.
  4. The Union Flag took rest at the City Hall every year after it marched throughout the states and divisions of the Union of Myanmar.
  5. The United Nations Day (24th October) has been celebrated at the City Hall.

Social Events at the City Hall

  1. The celebrations of selecting Mr. Union and Miss Union, Mr. Burma and Miss Burma, Mr. University and Miss University had been held at the City Hall since 1948, the year Burma regained her independence up-to 1960.
  2. The Maha Thingyan water throwing festival is held every year with a teeming crowd at the frontage of the City Hall under the patronage of the Mayor of Yangon.
  3. A food offering ceremony to the Buddhist monks has been held at the City Hall on 19th July every year to commemorate the memory of late Bogyoke Aung San and national leaders.
  4. Debates on literary topics had been held at the City Hall.
  5. A ceremony of paying obeisance and presenting gifts to veteran writers, poets and journalists are held under the aegis of the Myanmar Writer’s Association on the first waxing day of Nattaw (December) every year.
  6. Paper reading ceremonies had been held at the assembly hall under the aegis of Sarpay Beik Hman on 26th-28th December 1979.
  7. Wedding ceremonies and receptions had been held at the assembly hall on the first floor since 1948 up to 1961.

Kandawgyi: Royal Lake in Yangon

Kandawgyi - Royal Lake

Kandawgyi (It’s Past and Present)

Kandawgyi is the Myanmar name (big lake) of a lake in the city of Yangon, Myanmar. This lake has existed from time immemorial. It is situated in Bahan Township less than one mile to the northeast of the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. In the early days of the British colonial Regime, about the year 1877, Kandawgyi was a source of water supply to the eastern quarters (Viz: Pazundaung and Botahtaung) of the city of Yangon. In 1901, however, water in this lake was found unsuitable for drinking purposes. Since then the Yangon City Municipal Corporation has cut off the pipeline connected for the city water supply Kandawgyi was formerly called the “Royal Lake” during the British Colonial Rule in those days, Kandawgyi was the city suburb with no houses in the surrounding area except the Yangon Zoological Garden.

The lake and its environment have gradually developed in the latter days of the British Colonial Rule. The landscape of Kandawgyi with its rippling water and green foliage is so beautiful and tranquil that it attracts the photographer, the movie directors, and the artists. Houses of brick and wooden structures with large gardens were built and tarred roads were constructed on the banks of the lake. These roads were named “Park Lane”, “Bahan Road” and “Lake Road” and used by motor vehicles, cycles, and pedestrians. Before the Second World War, Kandawgyi was a very nice place for well-to-do families of Yangon who came to view the scenic spots amidst the evening breeze and for picnic goers who came to spend their leisure hours. Some of the Myanmar movie directors in those days chose this area for the location of an outdoor scene.

During the Second World War, Kandawgyi and its environs were very busy with city dwellers who took refuge at every monastery, nunnery, and zayat (rest house) in the vicinity of the great Shwedagon Pagoda to avoid the allied bombings in the downtown Yangon. As the allied bombings intensified, film shows were ceased at the center of the city. In those days, the famous newly built thatch-roofed cinema halls Myaing, Naythuyein, Kandawmeik, and Kandawmingalar which were located on the banks of Kandaygyi appeared. As no more imported film was available at that time and the whole movie industry came to a standstill, the film artists had no alternative but to stage pyazats (dramatized performance of plays) at these well-known cinema halls.

On August 19, 1945, just after the Second World War, a mass rally was held at Kandawgyi Naythuyein cinema hall with the patronage of AFPFL (Anti-Fascist People Freedom League). The mass rally was chaired by Bogyoke Aung San himself and attended by prominent political leaders, Karen National leaders, Commanders of PBF (Patriotic Burmese Forces) and over one hundred thousand people. The mass rally unanimously passed the important resolutions calling for

  • (1) the formation of well-organized new Burma Army
  • (2) the formation of the National Provisional Government with People’s representatives
  • (3) the protest against the white-papers which were promulgated by Governor Sir Reginald Dormant Smith on May 1945.

This Naythurein mass rally was a landmark in our struggle for national independence in the history of Myanmar.

Many new buildings in and around Kandawgyi have sprung up in the post-war years. A women’s hospital was opened on Park lane (now Natmauk Road) and name the Daw Khin Kyi Hospital.

Outstanding among other buildings are Natmauk Technical High School, Embassy of Japan, the Union Club, the Agricultural Museum, the Natural History Museum, and Eyes Hospital.

There is a small island in Kandawgyi known as Baganlone Kyun (The Bowl Island) on which a small shrine was built some sixty years ago.

After the attainment of independence, the authorities of the Yangon City Municipal Corporation had changed the alien names of some roads and streets into Myanmar names in the Yangon City Municipal Area. Hence, Park Lane became Natmauk Road. The name “Natmauk” is dedicated to a small town in Magwe Division of the central Myanmar, where our national leader Bogyoke Aung San was born some 100 years ago. There is a bronze statue of Bogyoke Aung San erected on the lawn of a park. The bronze statue of Bogyoke Aung San in standing posture faces the Natmauk Technical High School just across the road. The park in which the statue of Bogyoke Aung San was erected is known as Bogyoke Aung San Park, now called Kandawgyi National Park. On the eastern side lies the Karaweikt in the placid water of Kandawgyi. The halls at Karaweikt is well used to entertain foreign guests as well as for wedding ceremonies and other entertainments.

About fourty years ago, the Annual Independence Day Celebrations had been held on a grand scale at Kennedy Island of Kandawgyi with variety of shows and entertainments. There was also flowers and fruit shows celebrated on March 27 of every year at MyayPadeithar Island. The show was organized by the Government with various entertainment program and sales of foodstuffs, fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The city dwellers from all weeks of life thronged every pandal and stall of the celebration.

Kandawgyi also attracts a large crowd of Thingyan revelers during the water festival of Thingyan. Thingyan is one of the seasonal festivals in Myanmar. It is a water throwing festival celebrated nationwide in April of every year. Kandawgyi is a rendezvous for many merrymakers when they become hungry and drenched with water at midday during the days of the festival. Nowadays, there are many hotels, motels, and inns around Kandawgyi.

Bogyoke Aung San Statue