former bank of Bengal
This walk starts where walk 3 finished, at Maha Bandoola Square, where it meets Merchant Street.
Merchant Street, it’s name from colonial times remains unchanged, was the centre of commercial business in pre- war Rangoon. To the west of Pansodan were banks and insurance companies, and to the east mercantile and light manufacturing businesses. At the end of the 19th century there were also hotels, including the “dreadful” guest house (Kipling’s words), Jordan’s Hotel in which Rudyard Kipling spent his one night in Rangoon.
Royal Palace from Pagoda Hill Mandalay
Mandalay, the former royal capital of Upper Burma, is dominated by the towering Pagoda Hill, which overlooks it centre, the former Royal Palace, which under British colonial authority became Fort Dufferin. The fort still contained the old royal palace, erected on the orders of King Mindon in 1858, but it was also the location of the British administration in central Burma which were overthrown by the Japanese in 1942. To the Japanese this city was the symbol of a Burmese monarchy which they sought to replace with a puppet regime – they were so determined to take it in 1942, and deend it in 1945 -come what may -and these policies led to massive destruction. But there are still many thing to see.
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
Pansodan from the south
Pansodan was originally Phayre Street named after Sir Arthur Purves Phayre, a career British Indian Army officer who became the first Commissioner of British Burma from 1862 to1867. He was related to Lt. General Robert Phayre, who served the British administration in Ireland in the 1600’s and also signed the death warrant of Charles the First .
Starting at the south of the street and heading north we shall pass a number of interesting buildings.
Strand Road Yangon
Dagon to Yangon. The former Mon settlement of Dagon was renamed “Yangon” (which can be translated as “End of Strife” ) by the victorious King Alaungphaya to celebrate the end of Mon insurrection against Burmese rule in 1755. Yangon, including the teak wood stockade, covered an area of seventy-five acres and lay roughly between the Sule Pagoda to the north and the Strand to the south, Mogul Street/Shwe Bontha Street to the west and Judah Ezekiel Street/Bo Aung Gyaw Street to the east. Although there were few Europeans there were Armenians, Moguls, Parsis, Hindus, Jews, Chinese, and other foreigners. Following the 1824-26 Anglo Burmese War, the British occupied the town for two years. The war of 1852 saw Yangon become a British possession, and eventually the capital of Burma.
King Thibaw and Queen Supalayat – statues at Mandalay Palace
The palace followed the pattern of it’s predecessor palaces in Burma, 12 gates named for the signs of zodiac, and square in shape, this royal residence was the largest (in acreage) ever constructed in Burma. Some of the original buildings were of considerable antiquity – even though the palace was built in 1858, many of the wooden structures were dismantled and reassembled royal buildings previous sited in Innwa ( Ava) and Amarapura – former royal capitals. This was also the custom of the court and even the citizens of the former capitals – if the monarch moved then they had top move as well. –
From the battlements the western approach road inside the palace leads towards the reproduction royal buildings. When this site was the royal palace this was the approach to the rear of the palace complex as the buildings originally faced east (the most auspicious direction in Burmese belief).
If you are staying in Mawlamyine and get up early, you can have a fruitful visit by driving south to to various locations near the city and then return to explore the the sites of old Moulmein itself.
After the first Anglo Burmese War the British took the territory of Tenessarim and the Arakan, which were put under the direct rule of British India as provinces, and the capital became Moulmein ( Mawlamyine) .
There are many old buildings, if you know where to look. Burma is changing fast and even this former back-water is humming with energy.
Buddha Hill, Sittang Bridge
It was a decisive victory for Japan . Field Marshal Sir William Slim, who took Burma command soon after the battle called it “the decisive battle of the first campaign” and this it is often remarked on as a key event in the loss of Burma for the British. It resulted in the immediate loss of moral to both military and civilians alike, which, together with very obvious mismanagement of the battle (resulting in approximately two thirds of the British Indian forces being left on the wrong side of the bridge once it was blown) led to key changes in British command. Burmese nationalist rejoiced.
It was the inevitable result of the conflicting strategies of General Hutton, who wanted defence in depth of all major areas, and of his subordinate, General Smyth V.C. who wanted tighter defence of strategic locations, all governed by General Wavell’s overall lack luster authority. Read more
Taukkyan Commonwealth War Cemetery
This short battle near the present Commonwealth war cemetery north of Yangon in Burma was costly to the retreating British, but a lucky escape for the main garrison which could have been killed or captured, if the Japanese had not strictly followed their orders to capture Rangoon ( Yangon), and avoid other actions or objectives.
The previous commanders in the field for the British, Smyth and Hutton, had been replaced following the debacle of the Sittang Bridge and General Harold Alexander had taken command. Following General Wavell’ orders, he did nothing to save Rangoon. When he took command it was too late anyway.
The situation was already a disaster – thousands of civilians fleeing north east to India – easy prey to dacoits ( bandidts), and now the military garrison of Rangoon followed
The battle of Shwedaung was a series of grim incidents during the British army’s retreat north in March 1942. When the British garrison evacuated Rangoon the majority headed towards Pyay (Prome). They were harried all the way by the advancing Japanese, especially from the air.
There were a series of incidents which led up to this battle – the British had their armour and and trucks “glued” to the roads ( trains had ceased to operate) whilst the Japanese exhibited far more maneuverability – their shock troops were lightly armed and could move fast across mountain and stream.However the allied press making the best of this dreadful situation.