A visit to the Thagara Pyu ancient city, Laung Lon, Dawei, Tenerisserim, Myanmar

I have watched the Thagara Pyu ancient city ruins on Lwin Moe Kha Yee Twar Nay Thi လြင္မိုး ခရီးသြားေနသည္ and other TV programs and have wanted to visit it. I got the opportunity to visit it during my recent visit to Dawei.

Dawei is situated on the Thanintharyi, on the southern part of Myanmar

Dawei is situated on the Thanintharyi, on the southern part of Myanmar

Traditionally, the Pyu has been believed to have built a series of city states from Tagaung to Sriksetra, some of which existed contemporily. The Pyu cities included Halin, Maingmaw, Beinnaka and Beikthano_all in the central part of Myanmar.

Pyu cities, the First Myanmar empire

Pyu cities, the First Myanmar empire

Pyu city states (Burmese: ပ်ဴျမိဳ႕ျပႏိုင္ငံမ်ား) were a group of city-states that existed from c. 2nd century BC to c. mid-11th century in present-day Upper Burma (Myanmar). The city-states—five major walled cities and several smaller towns have been excavated—were all located in the three main irrigated regions of Upper Burma: the Mu valley, the Kyaukse plains and Minbu region, around the confluence of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers.

However, the Pyu built the First Myanmar nation which included the Thanintharyi in the south.  Although the details of the Pyu nation has not been recorded in Myanmar chronicles, the Chinese had recorded it.

The Tang Chinese records report 18 Pyu states (nine of which were walled cities), covering 298 districts

The New T’ang History listed thirty-two important settlements or tribes subject to the Pyu, eighteen dependencies, and eight or nine garrison towns. None of these have been definitively identified, although one such stockade may have been located near Myingan, near the Chindwin-Ayeyarwaddy confluence.

However, the name of the capital was not given.

Sri Ksetra, which is first mentioned in Chinese sources of the fourth century A.D., occupied most of the Irra-waddy River valley and in the south included the Mon cities. Sri Ksetra maintained extensive commercial and cultural relations not only with India and China, but also with Oc Eo a Funan city on the coast of present day Vietnam to the east and the Dhanyawaddy on the Bay of Bengal on the west and is at the junction of the trade routes.

In 832, according to the Chinese chronicles of the T’ang Dynasty, the troops of Nan Chao overran and leveled the Pyu capital; the surviving Pyu became slaves. The Pyu, a people of the Tibeto-Burmese group, subsequently were assimilated by the Burmese; they are last mentioned between the 11th and 13th centuries as one of the peoples inhabiting the Pagan state.

The Thargara ancient Pyu city map

The Thargara ancient Pyu city map

Thagara is one of the Pyu cities and is situated near Dawei, Thanintharyi, in Launglon township, Myanmar. It was founded in the year 113 M.E. / 751 A.D. There were Pyu finger marked bricks and laterite artifacts indicating that the Pyu first built the city.

Finger marked Pyu brick found at Thagara ancient city

Finger marked Pyu brick found at Thagara ancient city

The laterite artifacts also attested to the later Mon laterite culture.

Laterite artifact found at the Thagara ancient city ruins

Laterite artifact found at the Thagara ancient city ruins

It was on 16-April 2013, the last day of Thingyan (Myanmar New Year Water Festival) သၾကၤန္အတက္ေန႔ that I went to Thagara which is at the Myohaung ျမိဳ႕ေဟာင္း (Old city)village. We went there on motorcycles and water was splashed on us all along the way. In Dawei, the children begin the Water festival 3 days before Thingyan and everyone still plays water on the day after Thingyan on the Myanmar New Year’s day ႏွစ္ဆန္း တစ္ရက္ေန႔

Our classmate friend Dr. Kyaw Min of Dawei who made our visit to the Thargara ancient Pyu city possible. He, like us was drenched by the Thingyan water

Our classmate friend Dr. Kyaw Min of Dawei who made our visit to the Thargara ancient Pyu city possible. He, like us was drenched by the Thingyan water

Our friend Dr. Kyaw Min of Dawei took us there. First, he called along someone who knows the area. On the way, a couple who knows about the Thagara ancient city was called along to show us. Others had not been to Thargara.

Dr. Kyaw Min, the couple who showed us around, Pyone, and others of our group

Dr. Kyaw Min, the couple who showed us around, Pyone, and others of our group

We first reached the outskirts of the Thagara historical park where posts have been newly installed.

Myohaung archeological park boundary post

Myohaung archeological park boundary post

Then we were shown the ancient burial site but there is not much to see.

The ancient burial site.

The ancient burial site.

Old stupa near the ancient burial site

Old stupa near the ancient burial site

There was an old ruined pagoda / stupa near the burial site.

By the 4th century, most of the Pyu had become predominantly Buddhist and as Thagara was built in 751 A.D, this pagoda might have been in existence since that time. According to the excavated texts, as well as the Chinese records, the predominant religion of the Pyu was Theravada Buddhism.

The local couple who showed us around the Thagara ancient city ruins.

The local couple who showed us around the Thagara ancient city ruins.

We were then taken to the outer city wall remains.

Outer city wall remains.

Outer city wall remains.

It is not high nowadays and as the road has been built through the wall the cut section is clearly seen.

Further ahead we stopped at the inner city wall.

The inner city wall

The inner city wall

There was a large group of people celebrating the Thingyan Water festival nearby. A lady there went ahead to call the local staff of the Archeology Department to show us around.

Map of Protected and Preserved Zone at Thagara Ancient City

Map of Protected and Preserved Zone at Thagara Ancient City

We stopped for a while at the office of the Archeology Department.

Then we went to the palace site.

DSC02508 r

The palace site lies among the village houses and the area has been cleared.

The palace site နန္းေတာ္ရာကုန္း

The palace site နန္းေတာ္ရာကုန္း

Even the local couple do not know the exact location of the palace site. We were taken there by the villager staff of the Archeology Department who explained to us the details.

The Myohaung villager staff of the Archeology who showed us the Palace site and explained us the details

The Myohaung villager staff of the Archeology who showed us the Palace site and explained us the details

There is a Palace pagoda nearby. It was built in 113 M.E. (Myanmar Era) / 751 A.D. However, it has been renovated as the place has been continuously inhabited and the pagoda used by the locals all the time.

Palace pagoda နန္းဦးဘုရား

Palace pagoda နန္းဦးဘုရား

We were then taken to the foreshore ေဖာင္ေတာ္ဦး

This place is where boats arrive at the Thagara ancient city.

The foreshore  ေဖာင္ေတာ္ဦး

The foreshore ေဖာင္ေတာ္ဦး

The Pyu built their cities at a distance from the rivers, but as water transport is important, they are located along the streams.

The Thagara Pyu city is not a large settlement and is a small city of about 1 mile in diameter. It seems to be one of the “thirty-two important settlements or tribes subject to the Pyu, eighteen dependencies, and eight or nine garrison towns” mentioned by the New T’ang History. It is far from the capital Sriksetra which is situated near Pyay in central Myanmar.

I thank my friend Dr. Kyaw Min and his people who showed us around the historical Thagara city. Without their help, I would not have reached it and be able to inform others through this record.

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3 Responses to “A visit to the Thagara Pyu ancient city, Laung Lon, Dawei, Tenerisserim, Myanmar”

  1. erdwaerme Says:

    I am actually thankful to the holder of this website
    who has shared this wonderful article at here.

  2. A.Lin Says:

    Kindly guide to me, where can I get “the Pyu face of Myazedi Inscriptions by C.O. Blagden”…thanks a lot.

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