Yangon Walks 3 Maha Bandoola Road

 

Street yangon

Colonial era frontage Yangon

This walk will take us past some of the most prominant building in the centre of Yangon  starting with an old administative building and finishing at a site commemorating the independence of Burma in 1948.

We start at the end of walk 2, on Maha Bandoola road, named after a famous Burmese general. He had initial success against the British in 1824 in fighting in the Arakan, and therefore  his name was chosen to be commemorated in such a principal street in the city

The street was formally Dalhousie Street, named after the  Governor General of India at the time of the Second Anglo Brumese war and it was he would ordered that territory upto Magwe and above Toungoo be annexed by Britain, and this included Rangoon

 

At the intersection of Pansodan and Maha Bandola turn right ( east) walk  two blocks. Cross the road north and you will see

Formerly  Office  of the Ministries.

Old Secretariat Building Yangon

Old Secretariat Building Yangon.

Constructed as the Secretariat Building. It was opened in 1905 after construction commenced in 1890. It remains a huge complex once dominated by domes and turrets which collapsed in an earthquake in the  1930’s. In colonial times it’s well tended gardens were open to the public after office hours, as were it’s  tennis courts.

More than one commentator has referred to the style as  “Bureaucratic Byzantine”. It was here that General Aung San, the 32-year-old Burmese nationalist leader and father of Aung San Suu Kyi, was assassinated in 1947, on the eve of independence, together with seven of his cabinet (which included his elder brother). His office, where the event took place ,was on the first floor of the west wing (on the left as you face the building from Maha Bandooa Road. It is kept as a shrine.  Burmese independence was declared in the Quadrangle of the building on 4th January 1948.

Cross the road and then turn west Two blocks along you will see on your right:

Previously the Department of Immigration and Registration

former Rowe & Co Yangon

former Rowe & Co Yangon

A colonial era building that was once one of the largest department stores in Asia. The ochre-coloured former premises of Rowe and Co is being refurbished. Before WW2 this department store boasted a quarterly 300-page illustrated catalogue and offered the latest UK fashions, toys and household appliances. The letters RC can still be seen beneath a high front window.

On the other side of Maha Bandoola Road you will see

Immanuel Baptist Church, 1885

Immanuel Baptist Church Yangon Beautiful church, although not the oldest Baptist church in Yangon – that is the Judson church at Yangon University. The baptist faith in Myanmar was brought by many missionaries – the best known is an American, Adoniram Judson, Jr. (9 August 1788 – 12 April 1850).

He arrived in Rangoon with his wife having been removed from British India where the authorities did not want to cause problems by evangelical  sermons to the local Hindus and Muslims. He was therefore asked to leave and he chose Burma. His arrival in Rangoon, a small village at the time, coincided with the 1812 Anglo American war. The Burmese king Badiydaw disparaged his translation of a bible tract, but later he and his wife were to have the first printed document in Burma made into the Burmese language. The Anglo Burmese war of 1824 caused Judson to be imprisoned by the Burmese – he spoke English and therefore was guilty by association – he was tortured  but survived – the Burmese used him to translate the peace terms of the war.  The success of the Baptists was with the minority population, the Karen especially. Keep walking west. You will see on you right

The City Hall

Yangon City Hall

Yangon City Hall

The City Hall was  designed by U Tin (1890- 1972) in 1925 and was completed in 1940, incorporates Myanmar themes into its facade, including floral motifs and mythical creatures

Opposite the City Hall  on the other side of the Sule Paya Road is the

Bengali Sunni Jameh Bengali Mosque.

Mosque at Sule Paya

Sunni Jameh Mosque at Sule Paya

Probably the most familiar  mosque among tourists and business travelers  as it is located near to Sule Pagoda. Friday prayers time is the busiest. Prayers hall is air-conditioned. UN Representative Mr Ibrahim Gambari offered prayers here when he was in Yangon in 2008 negotiating the release of Daw Aung San Su Kyi with the Myanmar military government.Walking to the right (north) up Sule Paya Road you will see

Department of Fire Services Yangon. 

The Fire Station Yangon

The Fire Station Yangon

Formerly the Rangoon Municipality Central Fire Station.    The station is a good example of Edwardian architecture as a functional building. The tower, still used, allows a good view of the surrounding town so fires could and can be spotted early, although some present day high rise prevent it’s previous  almost 360 degree view.

Turn back to the Sule Paya. In the centre of the cross roads is

Sule Paya, now a traffic island

Sule Paya

Sule Paya

The pagoda is one of three princple paya in the city, the others being the Botataung and the Shwe Dagon.  It is 48 metres (157 feet) high and legend has it that it pre dates the Shwe Dagon. During pre colonial days it was surrounded by tidal water, but with the new design of the city following the second Anglo Burmese war, it was made the centre of the geometric grid of roads, and the mile marker for the country. It is believed conserve a relic (in this case a single hair ) of Gautama  Buddha.  Cross the Maha Bandoola Road to the south. Look to your right. Across the road you will see

former  Tourism Ministry Building.

The Burmese Favourite Yangon

The Burmese Favourite Yangon

Built in 1918. This three story brick exterior and teak interior building was concept was that of Isaac Sofaer.  U Nyunt expanded his existing business (Myanmar A Swe Company/Burma Favourite Company) to here to create a local competitor to  existing foreign department stores – Rowe & Co., Whiteaway and Laidlaw, A.Watson and TE Jamal. In 1920, U Nyunt’s son  U Tin New  set up the Dagon Magazine Company in these premises. The famous Burmese writer P Moe Nin worked here and was killed in a traffic accident as he left the building. He also established the Burma Film Studio and the AI Studio. Famous cartoonist U Ba Galay (Shwe Yoe) worked here and produced a famous film – Longings in the Forest. The company ceased trading soon after the second world war. In 1947 the building became the Civil Supply Board offices (until 1962), and the Ration Supply Scheme was administered from here. In 1964, under the Government’s nationalisation scheme, the building was given to the Trade Corporation and occupied by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Part of the ground floor was used as a tourist information centre.      On the left is a park       

Independence Monument Maha Bandoola Square (formerly Fytche Square)

The Independence Pillar Yangon

The Independence Pillar Yangon

Originally the square was named for Sir Albert Fytche , a chief commissioner of British Burma and a cousin of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the poet. Today, as with many place names in Rangoon, the square’s name has been changed.

It formerly had a band stand donated by the business house A.Cohen and Co., and a statue of Queen Victoria donated by Balthazar and Company.

The latter donation was made on condition that Rangoon Corporation erect railings, which are still there, with the monogram RC in the gates.

The Japanese removed the statue in 1942 and erected a memorial in 1944 to their dead, a wooden pillar at the location of the present Independence Pillar.

The next walk will start at the south of Maha Bandoola Square, on Merchant Street.

 For more information on this or any other location in S.E. Asia contact: www.dtctravel.com 

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