From Jatland Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Author: Laxman Burdak IFS (R)
Map of Myanmar

Pegu (पेगू), now called Bago (Burmese: ပဲခူးမြို့), is a city and the capital of the Bago Region in Myanmar. It was formerly also known as Hanthawaddy, meaning "She Who Has Swans".


It is located 91 kilometres north-east of Yangon.


  • Bago
  • MLCTS: pai: khu: mrui., IPA: [bəɡó mjo̰];
  • Mon: ဗဂေါ, [həkɜ̀])
  • Hanthawaddy (Burmese: ဟံသာဝတီ);
  • Mon:Hongsawatoi(ဟံသာဝတဳ)
  • Pali: Haṃsāvatī- meaning "She Who Has Swans"
  • Hansavati (हंसावती) = Pegu (पीगू), दक्षिण बर्मा का प्राचीन नाम, (AS, ). It was a colony of Indians settled in 5-6th century BCE.[1]


Various Mon language chronicles report widely divergent foundation dates of Bago, ranging from 573 CE to 1152 CE while the Zabu Kuncha, an early 15th century Burmese administrative treatise, states that Pegu was founded in 1276/77 CE. The earliest extant evidence of Pegu as a place dates only to the late Pagan period (1212 and 1266) when it was still a small town, not even a provincial capital. After the collapse of the Pagan Empire, Bago became part of the breakaway Kingdom of Martaban by the 1290s.

The small settlement grew increasingly important in the 14th century as the region became most populous in the Mon-speaking kingdom. In 1369, King Binnya U made Bago the capital. The city remained the capital until the kingdom's fall in 1538.

During the reign of King Razadarit, Bago and Ava Kingdom were engaged in the Forty Years' War. The peaceful reign of Queen Shin Sawbu came to an end when she chose the Buddhist monk Dhammazedi (1471–1492) to succeed her. Under Dhammazedi, Bago became a centre of commerce and Theravada Buddhism.

In 1519, António Correia, then a merchant from the Portuguese casados settlement at Cochin landed in Bago, then known to the Portuguese as Pegu, looking for new markets for pepper from Cochin.[3][4] A year later, Portuguese India Governor Diogo Lopes de Sequeira sent an ambassador to Pegu.

As a major seaport, the city was frequently visited by Europeans, among these, Gasparo Balbi in the late 1500s. The Europeans often commented on its magnificence.

The Portuguese conquest of Pegu, following the destruction caused by the kings of Tangot and Arrakan in 1599, was described by Manuel de Abreu Mousinho in "Breve discurso em que se conta a conquista do Reino do Pegú na India oriental feita pelos portugueses em tempo do vice-rei Aires de Saldanha, sendo capitão Salvador Ribeiro de Sousa, chamado Massinga, natural de Guimarães, a quem os naturais do Pegú elegeram por seu rei no ano de 1600" (Brief narrative telling the conquest of Pegu in eastern India made by the Portuguese in the time of the viceroy Aires de Saldanha, being captain Salvador Ribeiro de Sousa, called Massinga, born in Guimarães, elected as their king by the natives in the year 1600), published from 1711 to 1829 with "Peregrinaçam" of Fernão Mendes Pinto.

The capital was looted by the viceroy of Toungoo, Minye Thihathu II of Toungoo, and then burned by the viceroy of Arakin during the Burmese–Siamese War (1594–1605). Anaukpetlun wanted to rebuild Hongsawadi, which had been deserted since Nanda Bayin had abandoned it. He was only able to build a temporary palace, however.[5]

The Burmese capital relocated to Ava in 1634. In 1740, the Mon revolted and founded the Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom. However, a Bamar king, Alaungpaya, captured the city in May 1757.

Bago was rebuilt by King Bodawpaya (r. 1782-1819), but by then the river had shifted course, cutting the city off from the sea. It never regained its previous importance. After the Second Anglo-Burmese War, the British annexed Bago in 1852. In 1862, the province of British Burma was formed, and the capital moved to Yangon. The substantial differences between the colloquial and literary pronunciations, as with Burmese words, was a reason of the British corruption "Pegu".

In 1911, Hanthawaddy was described as a district in the Bago (or Pegu) division of Lower Burma. It lay in the home district of Yangon, from which the town was detached to make a separate district in 1880. It had an area of 3,023 square miles (7,830 km2), with a population of 48,411 in 1901, showing an increase of 22% in the past decade. Hanthawaddy and Hinthada were the two most densely populated districts in the province.

Hanthawaddy, as it was constituted in 1911, consisted of a vast plain stretching up from the sea between the mouth of the Irrawaddy River and the Pegu Range. Except the tract of land lying between the Pegu Range on the east and the Yangon River, the country was intersected by numerous tidal creeks, many of which were navigable by large boats and some by steamers. The headquarters of the district was in Rangoon, which was also the sub-divisional headquarters. The second sub-division had its headquarters at Insein, where there were large railway works. Cultivation was almost wholly confined to rice, but there were many vegetable and fruit gardens.

Today, Hanthawaddy is one of the wards of Bago city.

Indian Origin Places in Burma

Dineschandra Sircar[6] writes.... The name Maurya applied to Mweyin on the upper Course of the Irawadi River is supposed to be the [p.319]: origin of Mareura of Ptolemy's geography (2 nd century AD), while Shrikshetra (Prome) and Hanshavati (Pegu) are believed to be older than-5-6th century AD.[7]

The Nehru Brigade held Irrawaddy

Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon[8] writes....Towards end of 1944, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose gave Dhillon the command of 4th Guerrilla Regiment also called the Nehru Brigade. His regiment distinguished itself in the battlefield. The Nehru Brigade was to hold the Irrawaddy River from Nyaungu in north to Pagan in south, both towns inclusive, and to hold the enemy crossing the Irrawaddy at those places. (p.268)

Dhillon formed an advance party from 9th Battalion and left for Pagan on January 29, 1945. (p.265)

Dhillon ordered the move of battalions to leave Myingyan by February 4, 1945 so as to be in their respective positions by February 8, 1945.(p.268)

Dhillon ensured all the arrangements. The Nehru Brigade held the Irrawaddy as planned. Dhillon kept his Headquarters at Tetthe during this operation. (p.269)

On February 12, 1945 the enemy planes carried out saturation bombing on INA defences. (p.286)

On 13/14 February night enemy launched an assault in front of the 8th battalion deployed at Pagan. (p.288)

These assaults were failed and the enemy had to withdraw. The Nehru Brigade kept on holding the Irrawaddy and this was the first victory of INA. (p.289)

After the failure at Pagan the enemy tried another assault crossing opposite Nyaungu by using outboard motors and rubber boats. This assault was also failed and hundreds of enemies were killed or drowned. Having failed the enemy had no other choice but to retreat. This was another victory of INA. (p.289)

This could not sustain and INA had to withdraw and Dhillon had to proceed to Pagan.(p.296)

Dhillon reached Popa on February 17, 1945. on the following day, 18.2.1945, sahgal arrived. (p.301)

On February 23, 1945, General Shah Nawaz visited the Commander of Khanjo Butai and discussed co-ordination of Indo-Japanese operations in the Popa and Kyauk Padaung area. Col. Sahgal was given the task to prepare Popa as a strong base with the view to take up an offensive role. Dhillon’s Regiment, the 4th Guerrilla, was assigned the duty to check the enemy advance on to Kyauk Padaung from the west, where the British had established a strong bridgehead at Nyaungu. This was to be achieved by carrying out an extensive and persistent guerrilla warfare in the area between Popa, Kyauk Padaung (p.302) line in the east and as far forward towards the Irrawaddy as possible as to deny the enemy the use of Nyaungu-Kyauk-Padaullg-Meiktila metalled road for supplying reinforcements and supplies to his forces fighting in the battle of Meiktila. (p.303)

Shah Nawaz arrived Popa on 12 March 1945 and relieved Dhillon forthwith to join his regiment.(p.305)

On April 4, 1945 his Division Commander, Colonel Shah Nawaz Khan, ordered Dhillon to return from Khabok to Popa. By then 4th Guerrilla regiment had been in that area waging guerrilla warfare for over five weeks. (p.318)

Mount Popa and Kyaukpadaung was one pocket of resistance, which had so far defied all British attacks. Under constant raids by INA the British forces were forced to use longer routes that caused the British loss of time, greater consumption of petroleum products and frequent breakdowns of vehicles.(p.319)

From the beginning of April 1945 the strategic situation began to change rapidly. The enemy launched a three-pronged attack on Mount Popa and Kyaukpadaung area. On 5 April 1945 Dhillon was allotted the defence of Kyaukpadaung, south of Popa. In the second week of April there was daily bombing from air. (p.321)

Under the cover of this barrage the British forces advanced in their heavy tanks and armoured vehicles. There were very heavy casualties. The INA could not organize any defence. 2nd Division of the INA was to withdraw to Magwe, 100 miles (160 km) south on Irrawaddy. (p.322)

After completing the task of withdrawing from Magwe, they came to a village called Kanni. (p.327)

In the meantime, the Burmese army has declared war against Japan, and as such, the villagers did not co-operate with INA. Their retreat was fully under the control of General Aung San’s Army under the new name of People’s National Army, after having established a parallel government extending their hold over about 50 villages. They crossed Irrawaddy at Kama to reach Prome on May 1, 1945. Most of INA officers and men could not cross the river and they were stranded on the east bank of Irrawaddy. It was apparent by then, that they had lost the war. Rangoon had already been vacated. (p.333)

From Prome they took southeasterly direction to retreat through the jungles of the Pegu Yomas. Eleven days after leaving Prome, they reached at village called Wata about 20 miles (32 km) west of Pegu. There they learnt that Germany had surrendered. Japan was being heavily bombed daily. The British forces had occupied Pegu. Rangoon fell during the last week of April. Herein they decided that the surviving forces of INA should surrender to the British.(p.337)

पेगू (बर्मा)

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[9] ने लेख किया है .....पेगू (बर्मा) (AS, p.577) : इस स्थान को प्राचीन भारतीय साहित्य में सुवर्णभूमि कहा गया है. अशोक के शासनकाल में मोग्गलिपुत्र ने सोण और उत्तर नामक दो स्थविर व्हील इस देश में बौद्ध धर्म के प्रचार हेतु भेजे थे.


  1. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.1006
  2. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.577
  3. Luís Filipe Tomás (1976). "A viagem de António Correia a Pegu em 1519" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Junta de Investigações do Ultramar, [Lisboa].
  4. Malekandathil, Pius M C (2010-10-26). "ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF LUSO-INDIAN COMMUNITY in Portuguese Cochin and the maritime trade of India, 1500-6663" (PDF). Pondicherry University.
  5. Rajanubhab, D., 2001, Our Wars With the Burmese, Bangkok: White Lotus Co. Ltd., ISBN 9747534584,p:151–162,191
  6. Studies in the Geography of Ancient and Medieval India, By Dineschandra Sircar, pp.318-319
  7. R.C. Majumdar, Hindu Colonies in the Far East,1944,pp.215-216
  8. Dhillon, Gurbaksh Singh (1998): From My Bones, New Delhi: Aryan Books International. ISBN 81-7305-148-8. ,pp.265-337
  9. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.577