Pyay (Burmese: ပြည်မြို့; MLCTS: prany mrui., pronounced [pjì mjo̰]; Mon: ပြန် Mon pronunciation: [prɔn], Burmese pronunciation: [pjàɰ̃]; also known as Prome and Pyè) is the principal town of Pyay Township in the Bago Region in Myanmar. Pyay is located on the bank of the Irrawaddy River, 260 km (160 mi) north-west of Yangon.[1] It is an important trade center for the Ayeyarwady Delta, Central and Upper Myanmar and the Rakhine (Arakan) State.[2] The British Irrawaddy Flotilla Company established the current town in the late 19th century on the Irrawaddy as a transshipment point for cargo between Upper and Lower Burma. The English novelist Jane Austen's brother Rear Admiral Charles Austen died here in 1852.

Shwesandaw Pagoda in Pyay
Pyay is located in Myanmar
Coordinates: 18°49′12″N 95°12′56″E / 18.82000°N 95.21556°E / 18.82000; 95.21556
Country Myanmar
Division Bago Region
DistrictPyay District
TownshipPyay Township
 • Urban
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC+6:30 (+6:30)

The district of Pyay encompasses the valley of the Irrawaddy, located between Thayet, Hinthada and Tharrawaddy districts. Along the western side of Pyay District are the Arakan Mountains and along the eastern side are the Pegu Range. Pyay District's main towns are Pyay, Shwetaung, and Paungde.

Etymology edit

The name "Pyay" means "country" in Burmese, and refers to the ruins of the main city of the Pyu city-states, Sri Ksetra (Burmese: သရေခေတ္တရာ, Sanskrit Śrīkṣetra "blessed place, country"), which is located 8 km (5.0 mi) to the south-east of modern Pyay and is in the village of Hmawa.

Geography edit

The north and north-east of the district is forest-covered, and contains numerous valleys and ravines, which unite in one large stream called the Naweng River. The most important of the plains lie in the south and south-west portions of Pyay, and extend along the whole length of the railway that runs between. There are, in addition large tracts of land covered by jungle, which are available for cultivation. The principal river is the Irrawaddy, which intersects the district from north to south; next in importance are the Thani and its tributaries and the Naweng system of rivers. In the hills near the capital the soil is of Tertiary formation, and in the plains it is an alluvial deposit.

History edit

Much debate surrounds the construction of Sri Ksetra. Htin Aung suggests that Pyu might have been founded in 78 CE, based on the Sanskrit / Pyu Era. D. G. E. Hall and Gordon Luce, however, claim that civilisation of the Irrawaddy Valley could not have been possible before the 4th century, thus, attributing the founding of Sri Ksetra to 638, from which the current Burmese Kawza Era begins.

Sri Ksetra was the capital of the Pyu dynasty of Vikrama. The city was circular with walls enclosing about 46 km2 (18 sq mi), making it the largest walled city in Southeast Asia during its peak. The city contained both housing and farms, as is evident from the remains of waterways and tanks which have been discovered.

The Chinese pilgrims Xuanzang and Yijing mentioned Sri Ksetra in their mid-7th-century accounts.[3] It is not known when precisely the Pyu abandoned Sri Ksetra and moved northward. It is speculated that their decline was due to the growth of the Irrawaddy river delta, cutting it off from coastal trade, and also from Mon and later Tai Shan incursions. Burmese chronicles state that when Anawrahta invaded the southern parts of modern-day Myanmar in 1057, he ordered the ruins of Sri Ksetra to be destroyed to prevent rebels from sheltering there. The Burmese came to call the old Pyu center Pyi. The extensive ruins have been the subject of intensive archaeological investigation.

Strand Road in 1910.

Called Prome by the British (after the name that appears in the Portuguese texts of the 17th century), the city became part of British territory after the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1853. The town was taken by the British in 1825 during the Battle of Prome and again in 1852, on both occasions with hardly any opposition. In 1862, it was almost entirely destroyed by fire, and was afterwards relaid out in straight and broad streets. It was erected into a municipality in 1874, and since then great improvements have been made, including waterworks.

Indian troops of the 20th Division search for Japanese at the badly damaged station in Prome, 3 May 1945.

During World War II the city was the site of the Battle of Prome. The city was later retaken by the British Army in May 1945.

Climate edit

Pyay has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classification Aw). Temperatures are hot throughout the year, especially in the months before the monsoon from March to May when average maximum temperatures exceed 36 °C or 96.8 °F. The winter months from December to February are somewhat milder than the rest of the year. There is a winter dry season from December to April and a summer wet season from May to November, although rainfall during this wet season is much less extreme than in coastal cities like Yangon or especially Sittwe.

Climate data for Pyay (1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 32.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 24.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 16.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 4.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 0.4 0.1 0.7 2.1 9.6 18.9 19.8 19.7 15.8 10.1 2.7 0.4 100.3
Source: World Meteorological Organization[4]

Economy edit

Sign indicating city limits of Pyay

The main crop is rice, but some cotton and tobacco are grown, while the custard apples are famous. Sericulture is extensively carried on by a special class. The forests yield teak and cutch, cotton and silk-weaving are important industries; there are also manufactures of ornamental boxes, coarse brown sugar and cutch.

Culture edit

A post card of Shwesandaw Pagoda in Pyay dating to 1910.

For a town of its size, Pyay is well-renowned for a number of local delicacies.[5] It is reputed for the Pyay palata (ပြည်ပလာတာ), consisting of paratha, Burmese chicken and potato curry, and raw onions.[6] It is also known for a number of Burmese salads, including the Pyay rice salad (ပြည်ထမင်းသုပ်) and Pyay assorted salad (ပြည်အသုပ်စုံ).[5][7]

Pyay also produces a local pickled delicacy called taw laphet (တောလက်ဖက်; lit.'rural laphet') or Nibbinda laphet (နိဗ္ဗိန္ဒလက်ဖက်).[8] Originating from Burmese nunneries in the hills surrounding Pyay, the laphet is fermented from the leaves of the naywe (နရွဲ) tree, or kyettet (ကြက်တက်), the Combretum pilosum plant.[9][10] The pulp is then tightly wrapped into dried banbwe (ဘန့်ပွေး) leaves and left soaking in regularly changed water for up to 2 years, before it is consumed.[9] Taw laphet is otherwise consumed in an identical fashion to traditional laphet.[9]

Tourism edit

Shwesandaw Pagoda is located in the center of Pyay.

To the south and south-east, the town is closed in by low pagoda-topped hills, on one of which stands the conspicuous gilded Shwesandaw Pagoda. The Shwesandaw Pagoda is a notable Buddhist pagoda in the center of Pyay. It is the terminus for a railway from Yangon, which runs through the district.[11]

To the west of Pyay, crossing Irrawaddy river through Nawaday bridge, stands the Shwebontha Muni Pagoda. The Buddha statue is one of three replica of the Maha Myat Muni Buddha statue, believed to date back 554 B.C. when the king Sandar Thuriya ruled.[12]

Education edit

Pyay City has three universities. The universities are Pyay University (PU), Pyay Technological University (PTU), and Computer University, Pyay. Pyay University is situated near to the town centre of Pyay. PTU, which is one of the best ranking University in Myanmar, is situated near to Hnawgone village and Latkhoukpin village, a few miles away from Pyay. CU, Pyay is also quite a far distance from downtown.

Health care edit

  • Pyay General Hospital
  • Aung Zaw Oo Hospital
  • Myo Thuka Hospital
  • Aung Tharaphu Hospital
  • Lawkaparla Hospital
  • Pyi Myanmar Hospital

Notable people edit

  • Khin One (1947—2000), Burmese painter, writer, and singer

References edit

  1. ^ Pyay. (2005). In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia including Atlas. Retrieved March 13, 2008, from
  2. ^ "Myanmar Travel Information". Archived from the original on 2020-02-25. Retrieved 2019-02-26.
  3. ^ Cœdès 1968, pp. 62–63, 77.
  4. ^ "World Meteorological Organization Climate Normals for 1991–2020". World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  5. ^ a b "ပြည် အစားအစာတွေ ရနိုင်တဲ့ ဗိုလ်အောင်ကျော်လမ်းက ဆိုင်သစ်လေး". The Myanmar Times (in Burmese). 2017-06-28. Archived from the original on 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  6. ^ "ပြည်ပလာတာ". Danuphyu Daw Saw Yee (London). 2012-03-17. Archived from the original on 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2021-01-09.
  7. ^ "မနက်စောစောအတွက်အဆင်ပြေတဲ့ ပြည်ထမင်းသုပ်". The Irrawaddy (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  8. ^ "ပြည်လက်ဆောင်". Ksetra Pyay (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 2021-01-13. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  9. ^ a b c "ပြည်မြို့က တောလက်ဖက်". လွမ်းမပြေ သုတရပ်ဝန် (in Burmese). 2014-07-24. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  10. ^ "ပြည်မြို့ကတောလက်ဖက်ကို နှီးနဲ့ဘာဖြစ်လို့တင်းနေအောင်ချည်ထားကြတာလဲ". MRTV Travelogue (Travel Diary -5.1) (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 2021-01-19. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  11. ^ Bagan: Shwesandaw Pagoda, Myanmar(Burma) Archived 2008-05-17 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Shwe Bontha Muni Pagoda". Archived from the original on 2019-02-27. Retrieved 2019-02-27.

Bibliography edit

Preceded by
Capital of Prome Kingdom
c. November 1482 – 19 May 1542
Kingdom defeated by Toungoo forces