I arrived in Bago, the former capital of Burma, during a daily trip by taxi from Yangon. I expected to find out in Bago ancient ruins, but nothing was so far from reality and made me think a lot of Burmese and their attitude, the way to restore and repaint all the religious structures and statues. It does not matter if an ancient statue of Buddha is more than 1000 years old, it must be white and clean, it’s a matter of respect.
So, beside the chaotic intersection of two main roads and the bustling market town, it was very interesting to wander through temples thousands of years old, yet shiny and covered with fresh paint.
According to legend, two princesses founded in 573 Bago. It was written in the chronicles that eight years after his enlightenment, Buddha and his disciples arrived in the countries of Southeast Asia.
During his return trip across the Gulf of Martaban during the low tide, he saw a miracle: two gold sheldrake the female over the male.
After the miracle of the Buddha predicted to his disciples that one day this place would have been a country where his doctrine would have prospered.
Beyond this started the common saying that women of Bago dominate men, so be careful to marry a woman of Bago.
Apart from the legend, the first mention in the history of this city is the Arab geographer Ibn Khudadhbin in 850.
At that time the capital of the Mon people was in Thaton, but the area came under the rule of the Burmese from Bagan in 1056.
After the collapse of Bagan, because of the Mongols in 1287, the Mon regained their independence. Bago became a center of commerce and Theravada Buddhism.
The area came back under the control of Burmese in 1539, when they made Bago the royal capital (1539-1599) and again in 1613-1634 when it was often used as a base for repeated invasions of Siam.
Being an important port city was often visited by Europeans, who have commented on his magnificence.
The Burmese capital was moved to Ava in 1634. Bago was rebuilt by King Bodawpaya (1782-1819) but the river had shifted already cutting off the city from the sea. Bago has never regained its former importance.
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