Myanmar’s Bago palace needs proper maintenance

Thet Mon Htun
Reconstructed Kanbawzathadi Palace in Bago (Photo-Thet Mon Htun)

YANGON - One of Myanmar showcases, especially for visitors on a-day trip from Yangon, is the reconstructed Kanbawzathadi Palace in Bago.

But a visit to this famous site first built by King Bayintnaung in AD1553 would likely disappoint the visitors with fetish smell and unclean surrounding.

“When I visited to Kanbawzathadi in mid September, I was really upset and sad. It is the palaceof the king who built the second Myanmar Kingdom. But I saw rubbish, clay and mud at the entrance’s walkway. I even saw earth worms on the stairs. Inside the palace, I was suffocated with smell of bat guano,” said a student Htin Linn.

If local visitors have a bad impression of the palace, what do foreigners even think?

Htin Linn added: “Most visitors are from Thailand. I am really shamed to show such messy palace to the international tourists."

The original Kanbawzathadi Palace was built by King Bayintnaung in AD 1553 after he came to the throne in AD 1551. The king was the conquerer Shan State and Siam (Thailand) under his reign and Myanmar at the time became the most powerful kingdom in Southeast Asia. Conquered Siamese citizens were rounded up and sent to Bago.

Among them was the beautiful Thai Princess Suphankalya who was taken to Bago together with her brother. Later she became a Royal consort to King Bayintnaung.

“The original palace involved brick city wall and moat. The city (Hanthawaddy City) was squared in shape when the King Bayintnaung built it. It became a treasured residence for the king’s wife and daughter,” officer at the reconstructed palace explained.

Bee Throne (Bhammayarthana Throne Hall) was where the King Bayintnaung used to sleep. From there, he could see the Shwemawdaw Pagoda and did his prayer.

Another well-known hall constructed with teak wood was for parliamentary matters. Displayed on the teak posts in the hall tag are names of the former working officers, their regions and recorded dates.
Unfortunately, the reconstructed palace does not have much of the original’s properties including buildings, furniture and personal items left.

Although Bee Throne and the parliament were fully reconstructed to serve modern day tour destination, Teak Posts Museum and the treasury have only roof and pillars with no wall. Evidently it became a romantic space for young lovers rather than a historical venue.

The palace was in ruin for more than 400 years since it was burnt in war in 16 th century. The renovation of the Kanbawzathadi took place during 1990 to 1994 by the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library under the military regime. Today is it’s three and a half-hour drive from Yangon.

The warehouse where excavated teaks are stored – located at the west of the palace. According to the record made at the warehouse, a total of 176 pillars having bilingual of Myanmar and Mon languages were uncovered.