Known in history as Hanthawaddy and about 50 miles only by road from Yangon Bago has now receded into history into a commercial centre of the region. But from the 14th to the 18th century, when the Mons, and later the Myanmar people, held hegemony in this area it was the seat of the powerful Mon and Myanmar Kingdoms.
The Shwemawdaw Pagoda is of course the best known pagoda in Bago. Said to be built around 10th century it is believed that 2 Holy Hairs are buried inside the Reliquary. Then there is the Hinthagone Pagoda built on a hillock to the east of Shwemawdaw Pagoda. Legend says once upon a time it was the only spot of land peeking above the waters and two passing Ruddy Shelducks flying took their rest, the female standing on the back of the male bird. A pagoda now stands on this hillock overlooking the vast plain toward the east and stretching towards the Sittoung River.
The Shwethayaung Reclining Buddha statue is another place of interest. It is built with bricks and said to be the 2nd largest in Myanmar after the statue in Dawei. The pagoda history tells of a Mon Princess who converted to Buddhism during the reign of King Meggadipa in 994 A.D and the King who built this pagoda. The Buddha statue is about 180 feet long. On the soles of the feet are symbolic 108 figures of Lord Buddha. The statue was lost in the jungle after Bago became just a rustic hamlet after many wars between the Mons and the Myanmar forces in the 18th century. Then during the British colonial period in 1880, it was decided to build the Yangon-Taungoo railways corridor. A contractor was engaged to provide the railway authorities with bricks and when they became suspicious of the origin of the bricks, investigated and found this reclining statue covered in dense bushes.
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