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Taungoo prepares for 500th birthday

By Shwe Yinn Mar Oo
August 2 - 8, 2010

A motorcylist passes by a statue of King Bayintnaung in Taungoo last month.

A MASSIVE celebration is being planned to mark the 500th birthday of the city of Taungoo, located 220 kilometres north of Yangon.

Half a millennium ago on October 16, the full moon day of Tazaungmone, King Mingyi Nyo broke away from the Ava Kingdom and established Taungoo as an independent capital. King Mingyi Nyo ruled over the city for 45 years, and his successors – Tabinshwehti and Bayintnaung – used the city as the launching point to establish the Second Burmese Empire.

The birthday of the city is being officially marked on November 21 but the commemorative events have already started, beginning with a paper reading symposium held at Taungoo University on July 24 and 25.

There are also plans for sporting tournaments, restoration projects, and the construction of statues and attractions.

“We are planning on holding sporting activities, including traditional boxing matches and boat races,” said Dr Aung Thu, rector of Taungoo University.

Dr Aung Thu said that work is also underway to revitalise the Royal Lake, known as Lay Kyun Kandawgyi (Royal Lake with four islands), as well as the remains of the royal palace and moat.

“To prepare for the celebration, a road was built around the moat and a 20-foot (6 metre) high bronze statue of Mingyi Nyo is being made,” he said.

U Nyan Soe, assistant general manager of Royal Kaytumadi Hotel, said his company has agreed to help with the preparations. He said the work is as much about raising the standard of the city’s infrastructure as it is commemorating the 500th anniversary.

“While work is being done to renovate the road around the moat, the roads inside the city will be repaired too,” he said.
The Royal Kaytumadi Hotel is hosting celebrations on the big day, and is striving to improve their facilities.

“Our hotel is trying to reach a five-star standard, so we are building a ballroom with a 1000-person capacity, a playground for children and a golf course,” he said. All of the Hotel’s projects are scheduled to be completed in September.

The palace at Kaytumadi, as Taungoo was once known, once covered an area of roughly 8000 square metres but only fragments of palace walls and isolated areas of the moat remain today.