Pyay and Thayekhittaya

Pyay (Prome)

The commercial centre of Pyay, situated on the lower reaches of the Ayeyarwady River was established around the 12th Century during the Bagan era after the fall of the nearby Pyu city of Thayekhittaya. The city boomed during the British colonial period when it became a base for the famous Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. Myanmar’s first railway connected Pyay to Yangon back in 1877.

Shwesandaw Pagoda.

It is said that this huge pagoda, set on a hill dominating Pyay, was first established in 589BC and that the golden zedi contains four hairs of the Buddha. This is one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in Myanmar and hosts a famous ‘pwe’, or festival each November. The pagoda, one yard taller than the great Shwedagon, is (unusually) topped by 2 ‘hti’ or umbrellas. One dates to city’s days under the Mon Kingdom and one was added by King Alaung Paya as a symbol of peace after capturing the city in 1754. There are panoramic views over the city and river.

Shwemyetman Pagoda.

This famous pagoda is located about nine miles south of Pyay in the town of Shwedaung. The pagoda is famous country-wide for its large Buddha image wearing spectacles with gilded rims. The story goes that a local nobleman added the glasses in order to stimulate faith in Buddhism through curiosity. Local people began to believe that the image could cure illness, especially afflictions of the eyes.

Akauk Taung

Downstream from Pyay on the cliffs overlooking the river lie these reclining and meditating Buddha images, crafted by 19th Century toll-collectors. The name means ‘Tax Mountain’. This a pleasant half-day excursion from Pyay by car and boat. You can stop at the traditional weaving village of Myoma on the way back to the city.

Thayekhittaya. (Sri Ksetra)

The main attraction in the part of Myanmar is the ancient capital of Thayekhittaya. The ‘Fabulous City’ was established in the 5th Century by the Pyu, the culture that pre-dates the Burmese Golden period. This was the Pyu capital until the 8th century when it was destroyed by Chinese invaders. Along with the remains of the Pyu cities of Beikthano and Halin, Thayekhittaya has been nominated for world heritage listing.
The remains of this huge city, the largest built by this civilisation, cover about 19 square kilometres and the best way to explore is by ox cart. Highlights of the city include the Bawbawgyi Pagoda, one of the oldest in the city; Leimyethna Pagoda with its ancient Buddha reliefs and the old city gate. The site is a mixture of overgrown bush and farmland; you are likely to be the only visitors here. The on-site museum contains objects discovered in the archaeological zone such as Hindu deities, Buddha images, jewellery, coins and bronze figurines of musicians and dancers.

Pyay is six hours drive northwest of Yangon and accessible by air-conditioned hire car. There is no airport at Py Mr Mya can arrange return travel from Yangon or alternatively, you can continue onwards north to Bagan, a full day’s drive away. Shwemyetman Pagoda can be visited en-route to or from Yangon. We recommend staying in Pyay for at least two nights / one full day in order to explore the city and Thayekhittaya.

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