City Highlight: Mawlamyaing

Considered to be the third largest city of Burma, Mawlamyaing, the capital city of Mon State, is considered to be a big trading center.

Mont me lein is said to be Mawlamyaing’s old Mon name. Owing its etymology to history, the name refers to the much exulted Mon king.

Mawlamyaing was surrendered to the British forces in 1826 after the treaty of Yandbao had been signed; thus ending the first Anglo-Myanmar war. Back then, it was just a small village. The mayor of Dala town, Sitke Maun, Htaw Lay, had brought in roughly 10,000 people from Mon so that they could settle there. This sudden increase of population had attracted foreign traders, hence its gradual growth into a center of business.

Located at the left bank of the Thanlwin River, and emerges into the open sea, Mawlamyaing is the second largest seaport in the country. Its proximity to the sea brings a most favorable climate causing the abundance of fruits such as durian, mangosteen, pineapple, rambutan, mango and cashew. A popular Burmese expression attests to this bounty of tropical fruits saying, “”Mandalay for the speaking, Yangon for the bragging, and Mawlamyaing for the eating”.

Mawlamyaing‘s good climate had also led to the efficient cultivation of rice, rubber and teak. It is accessible through Yangon by sea, air and land, especially with the completion of the bridge over Thanlwin River. At present, improvements are being undertaken along the Thanintharyi coastal strip to further the travel by road and rail.

Mawlamyaing is also popular for the Thingyan water festival. This is held every April for the duration of a week.

It also boasts of attractions such as the Mon Cultural Museum. This houses a collection of old Mon inscriptions, century-old wooden sculptures, and various antiquated musical instruments. Located at northern end of Mawlamyaing is the Mahamuni Pagoda. Its structure is evident of a Mon tradition which can be seen through its walkways paved with bricks that link numerous buildings.

An old monastery, history has it that the Seindon Mibaya Kyaung was where Queen Seindon, King Mindon’s consort had sought refuge after the fall of the last monarch.

The Buddhism tradition in Mawlamyaing is as old as the city itself, making it dominant and thus being the primary system of faith in the city. Diversity in religion had only come in the 19th century when the British had brought Christianity. Cultural change had been also attributed to the 1860s opening of St Patrick’s School, Mawlamyaing, (which is now known as BEHS-5, Mawlamyaing), by the De La Salle Brothers. This is further compounded with the establishment of trade relations with the Hindu culture in the 20thcentury.

The education sector in Mawlamyaing had grown considerably with the founding of13 high schools, the University of Mawlamyaing. Considered now to be the major university of the south-eastern region, the University of Mawlamyaing offers bachelor’s degrees in arts and science.

Indeed, Mawlamyaing had grown into a capital that the Burmese people can really be proud of. Not only is it a testament to the country’s rich economic and cultural history, it has also become a landmark of a shining and promising future.

Other blog entries…