Enchanting Myanmar
  A Guide to Tourism Destinations and Beyond

Vol.3  No.1  
October-December 2003

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A Walk In Yangon

During the colonial period this was used as the Police Courts but now it is The Yangon Division Courts building (Strand Road)Now a bustling metropolis, Yangon has its roots deep in history. Nestled on the eastern banks of the Yangon River it began history as a small, quiet fishing village. In antiquity it was also known variously as Kyaik Lagun, then Okkalapa, then as Dagon. The only distinction it had then was the shimmering and imposing sight of the Shwedagon Pagoda that towered above the village in the distance. The most important towns at that time were Bago (previously known as Pegu ) and Thanlyin (called Syriam by the British). 

However, fortunes changed. In 1755 A.D King Alaungpaya, the founder of the 3rd Myanmar Empire, conquered Lower Myanmar and consolidated his Konbaung Dynasty. In the same year he also seized the small town of Dagon and to commemorate his conquest changed its name to Yangon. "Yan" in the Myanmar language means harm, strife or enemy. "Gon" means the 'end' or 'empty of'. So the name Yangon means "the end of strife". Also by then Bago and Thanlyin had paled into insignificance after the fall of the kingdom of Bago. Under Myanmar Imperial rule Yangon became prominent in history as the major commercial port for foreign trade of Lower Myanmar.

The Central Telegraph Office (Corner of Pansodan and Maha Bandoola Roads) Secretariat Building (Theinbyu and Maha Bandoola Roads)  A building at the corner of Merchant and Pansodan Roads

This building was constructed in 1932 (Pansodan Road)Fortunes changed again for Yangon after the 2nd Anglo-Myanmar War of 1852 A.D. When that war ended, the British gained Lower Myanmar and the country was divided into British and Imperial Myanmar domains. The British spelled the name Yangon in the way they heard it, "Rangoon" and made it onto the administrative and commercial capital of the British part of Myanmar. They also called the country "Burma", confusing the name of the country with the majority race the "Bama" nationalities.

With the observation from Lord Dalhousie that "the place will certainly grow in importance as a port if at all" the town was enlarged, extending beyond the boundaries under the Myanmar kings. Dr. William Montgomerie, who was the Superintendent Surgeon in Yangon at that time, submitted a plan for the new town, as he had once been involved in the planning of Singapore. Also Lt. A. Fraser of the Bengal Engineers made a more detailed proposal and was entrusted with the task of building the city but he in fact followed more or less the original plans made by Montgomerie. The new plan extended the town further along the Yangon River.

 The St.Mary's Cathedral (Corner of Bo Aung Gyaw Street and Bogyoke Aung San Road) The Emmanuel Baptist Church (Maha Bandoola Road) The Myanmar Port Authority Building on Pansodan Street. It was previously called the Port Commissioner's building A building on Pansodan Road 

As time went on Yangon grew into a modern city with many commercial enterprises and government offices. Italso became known as the Garden City of the East. Architectural styles from Europe was copied and reproduced here in many of the government and private buildings in what is known as the colonial architectural style. The trend continued until the time of Independence in 1948.

The Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) Flotilla Company building now houses the Inland Water Transport Headquarters (Pansodan Road)  The Customs House on Strand Road 

This brief photo essay will take you on a walk to see many of the magnificent old buildings that are still well-preserved after all these years, in spite of the ravages of time and destruction from both the Allied and
Japanese armies during World War II. Now, Yangon with its greenery and wide avenues, and little pollution compared to other cities, seem poised to be crowned once again as the Garden City of the East. The Shwedagon, more majestic then ever with annual donations from the adoring public, still towers like a beacon of pride over the city. Whatever the changes in the cityscape, the golden spire of the Shwedagon will always stand sentinel.

The Supreme Court building on Pansodan Road The General Post Office (Corner of Bo Aung Gyaw and Strand Roads) Previously this was the building where Rowe&Co had their departmental store (Corner of Maha Bandoola Garden Street and Maha Bandoola Road)

HomeOur Readers  |  A Walk in Yangon  | Festival of Elephants  Classified Listings |

The Impossible River |  Festival Inle  Events Calendar  Overtune