Pyu Kingdoms; The earliest urban settlements of Myanmar - 4 Days

The Distinguishing Characteristics of Pyu

The cultural characteristics of the Pyu revealed comparatively through excavations are as follow;

  • The Pyu had built their city walls, bastion and the religious structure using large sized bricks in order to stabilize them.
  • The Pyu bricks measure a cubit long, i.e, (18x9x3) inches.
  • The bricks contain finger marks in different variety as well as the paddy husks.
  • The city gateway has wider mouth or entrance points which narrow down inside in flanking bends.
  • The Pyu were well-versed with pottery making, decorating their pots with human figurines and bird figurines, as their designs.
  • They are cremated their dead bodies, put the remaining bones and ashes in the funerary urns and buried them.
  • They used a kind of coinage generally known as the Pyu coins containing Bhaddapitta on the obverse and Srivatsa and the rising sun on the reverse.
  • They adorned themselves with beads of various materials.

The World Heritage Sites

Upper Myanmar has a wealth of exciting places to visit and in July 2014 three Pyu Dynasty cities were awarded World Heritage status, all there are near the Ayeyarwady River. Hanlin is north of Mandalay, Beikthano to the west of Naypyitaw and Sriksetra near Pyay. As always with early history the dates are a little shaky but it is now thought that the Pyu Dynasty lasted from 2nd century BCE until the mid-11th century CE. They were a prosperous dynasty with their cities built on the Ayeyarwady’s rich alluvial plains, the surrounding fields irrigated with water from the river. They traded in rice, salt, precious stones and gold which was panned from the river. For present day visitors, the sites present a picture of life as it would have been.

Price per person in USD:

1 Pax: 825
2 Pax: 450
3-4 Pax: 385
5-7 Pax: 345

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Day 1

In the morning, car will pick up from the hotel and drive all the way to Naypyitaw (approximately 6 hours). Stop on the way for a coffee break and lunch is served at one local restaurant. Continue drive to Taungdwingyi via Magwe road, all the way is covered with the thick forest, teakwood trees and hilly. It’s about 63 miles from Naypyitaw by car to Taungtwingyi and drive another 12 miles to get this ancient Pyu Capital.

World Heritage Pyu Ancient City of Beikthano

World Heritage Pyu Ancient City of Beikthano; about 11 miles (18 km) west of Taungdwingyi locates in Kokogwa village, Taungdwingyi Township, Magwe District, Magwe Region. Between two streams of Ye Pe on south and Sadon Chaung on north, the Ancient City locates in fertile land of Yin valley. Its city encompasses with brick city wall in south, east and north. The city had been flourished Buddhist Urban civilization since (200 BC – 900 AD).

Beikthano flourished during the 1st to 5th centuries CE, the second being Sriksetra which lasted from the 5th Century to the 7th Century. Hanlin; the last Pyu Kingdom was located farther north in the Shwebo District of Sagaing Division and was most probably the Pyu Kingdom that the Chinese chroniclers described in their dealings with the “Piao” and records of delegations from the Pyu kingdom to the Chinese court in 801-802. At any rate. Hanlin was burned in 832 by the Nanchao Kingdom from the north. Beikthano was destroyed in the 4th or 5th Century C.E. Buildings and city gates were consumed by fire, indicating that it was the result of enemy attack. After a short period as a ruined city, it was rebuilt again as a succeeding kingdom. Only to be sacked again and burnt to the ground. However, the Pyu people continued to occupy the surrounding countryside in spite their no longer having city-walls and a Palace to protect them. The next Pyu kingdom was established down-river at Sriksetra, 5 miles west of Pyay that grew to prominence during the 4th and 5th Centuries CE.

After exploring museum, old palace walls and the excavation site in Beikthano, we’ll go to hotel for check in.

Royal Beikthano Hotel, Double room

Day 2

Enjoy your breakfast at the hotel.

Morning drive to Pyay, it’s about 1,5 hours drive through the stunning landscape and scenic ride. Toddy trees, beautiful countryside and everywhere we can see very green plantation such as peanut, corns and beans. The road is very good conditioned and it’s very comfortable to travel by a private car. Upon arrival Pyay, visit to the central market, strand road, The Shwesandaw Pagoda and Sehtetgyi Pagoda (the gigantic sitting Buddha image) which is close by the Shwesandaw and connected with the walk way under the roof.

After lunch, continue to 2014 UNESCO World Heritage listed Sriksetra which is centered on the remains of the royal palace. Sriksetra means ‘City of Splendour’ in Sanskrit. Also known as Thayekhittaya, it provides a glimpse of an even older civilisation than those of Bagan or Mrauk U. Very little remains of what was once a great kingdom but extensive research suggests that some pagodas here date back to the beginning of the Christian era. Nowadays, called Pyay (pronounced ‘Pyee’) is a quiet, stupa-studded Irrawaddy riverside town, around 290 kilometers north of Yangon. Pyay is an important commercial center for trade between the Ayeyarwady Delta, Central and Upper Myanmar and the Rakhine (Arakan) State.

First, visit the tiny museum which houses artefacts unearthed in Sriksetra. There are two huge conical stupas, PAYAGYI and PAYAMA, close to the museum and it is nearly always possible to reach them because the road is sealed. Less accessible is BAWBAWGYI PAGODA which has a cylindrical shape. We’ll also see the Rahanta Cave Pagoda; the Lay Myet Hna monument; and the royal cemetery. In the museum, we’ll see five Bronze Artist Figures.

Bronze Artist Figures of Pyu

The bronze figures of Pyu were founded of excavated mound No (8) near the Phayama Pagoda in 1967. Those bronze figures were found from inside the ornately moulded bronze bell eleven inches high. The small bronze figures are each (4 ½) inches in height. One is flute player, one a drummer, one a cymbal clapper and the fourth a dancer. The fifth figure which is half the size of the first four look like a dwarf clown carrying a sack on its back. The first four figures are bit through burglary at this site museum where there were temporarily exhibited before the close of the excavation. Then, the bronze figures were reached to foreign countries. At last, Mr. Robert Alswart, an American millionaire, who has bought the bonze figures, handed over to Archaeology Department by donation in 1983, November, 18.

Overnight at Lucky Dragon Hotel, Superior room

Day 3

Enjoy your breakfast at hotel.

A beautiful day trip to Akauk Taung is fabulous and we’ll drive 1 hour to get there passing several villages, paddy fields and small towns on the way. Uchit Pin town is turning point toward Akauk Taung. This is one of the most popular local pilgrims’ sites and we’ll take a boat trip over Ayeyarwaddy. Young local guides will get onboard when we depart from the jetty and they will share us the background stories of all these Buddha images, and why they’re cast in the hill. Akauk Taung is a scenic spot south west of Pyay where dozens of Buddha images have been carved into the cliff walls overlooking the Irrawaddy. Some say it was made by taxmen as they waited to collect money from passing boats, which explains its alternative name of Customs Hill. One can see Bago and Ayerwaddy Divisions borders signs near here. It takes 15 minutes by boat to reach the Akauktaung. Vegetarian lunch is served at the monastery. Afterward, we’ll get to the jetty by boat, and continue by car to Pyay.

Afternoon is free and leisure or we can do town walking tour to see railway station, night market and tasting local foods here.

Overnight at Lucky Dragon Hotel, Superior room

Day 4

Breakfast is in Shwe Taung town with Osaka noodle.

Shwedaung is a small town and located about 14 km south of Pyay. We’ll visit SHWE MYET MHAN Pagoda which is home to a most unusual Buddha image – one who wears gold-rimmed spectacles. There is a saying that this image can cure illnesses especially for eyes. Oh! We’ll taste popular Shwe Taung noodle (Osaka) along the roadside. Why Osaka noodle? The owner of the noodle shop went to Osaka in Japan for foods festival and trade shows, after he came back, his noodle was well known as Osaka noodle.

After eating the noodles, continue drive to Yangon, we’ll have a simple lunch at one of the towns. Drop you off at your place in Yangon.

Pyu Kingdoms; The earliest urban settlements of Myanmar

  • All transfers and transport as per the program with a private A/C car
  • All meals as mentioned (B=breakfast, L=lunch)
  • All accommodation including breakfast, taxes and service charges
  • Service English speaking throughout guide
  • All entrance fees on tour
  • Water & snow towel
  • All camera and zone fees
  • Small boat rental to Akauk Taung

Pyu Kingdoms; The earliest urban settlements of Myanmar

  • Insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • All drinks
  • Visa fees and/or visa authorization
  • Tips
  • Other expenses that not mentioned on the itinerary