Remains of Opposition
Lost fortresses along the Ayeyarwady River marked the last few abandoned feudal years of Myanmar's last reign. MNHLA, Magwe Region - The powdery streets and high temperature in Min Hla, a small city in the Magwe region on the western shore of the Ayeyarwady River, are reminiscent of any other key place in Myanmar.
In 1852, after the Second Anglo-Burmese War, the Brits had conquered all of Lower Myanmar, which included Yangon and Bago. 1854 was the year of the stationing of English forces in Thayat, about 60 nautical leagues southward of Min Hla and near the land still owned by the Km. of Myanmar. In 1860 the Royal Palace took this as a symbol of another imminent incursion and Crown Prince Kanaung, King Mindon's younger sibling, began preparing the construction of fortresses in Min Hla and Kway Chaung on the opposite bank of the Ayeyarwady River.
More than 150 years old, the huge Min Hla fortress, erected on the banks of the Min Hla with the help of two Italians, Commotto and Molinari, is a permanent relict from a time of upheavals. Historic notes show that 35 guns were deployed in Min Hla Fortress, which also contained a small telegraph room, military bases, an arms depot and command posts.
About 300 meters to the south was a small telegraph bureau that managed the communication to the fortress. Following the declaration of hostilities, Myanmar forces prepared guns and other weaponry at Myanmar's forts Min Hla, Kway Chaung, Sin Paung Wae and Pan Daw Pyin and Htoo Pauk shelters, all along the Ayeyarwady River.
The Myanmar ships, some of them small cannon-armed steamships and rowing boats, were scattered along the riverbank waiting for the arrival of one of the world's most powerful warships. Mín Hla Forte and his síster Forte of Kway Chaung became the last great hopes of the defense of the imperial city.
At the 17th of November the Brits besieged the fortress Kway Chaung with navy and infrared forces. Soon the Myanmar forces left it after their commandant and scores of men were slaughtered. In Min Hla, the commands ordered their forces to defend themselves against the Brits. But on the night of November 17, the fortress Min Hla fell to the Britons.
Victory in the battle, Britain's forces then sails up the Ayeyarwady River to Mandalay, quickly conquering other Myanmar forts with massive ordnance. In the fortress of Thabyaytan near Amarapura, Myanmar's forces, who had been given the king's order not to defend themselves, remained silent and gnashing their teeth as they saw the English marines passing by.
Today, the historical fortresses of Myanmar's last imperial family are under the auspices of the Myanmar Culture Minister. There is a plaque outside Min Hla Fortress that says that the Department took charge of upkeep in 1957. The Min Hla Forte is an important touristic destination for those who make a trip on the Ayeyarwady River.
The facade of the castle, however, has partly fallen into the stream due to the escalation of the banks of the river. "As the story of this fortress has failed, the government is not interested in maintaining it," said U Hla Maung Win, a 62-year-old eldest in the city. Evidence of the fortress's forgotten place in the past was in 2013, when local and hobbyists wanted to commemorate the 150-year existence of the Min Hla and Kway Chaung fortresses.
The villagers said they refused permission to perform a ceremonial act, give charity to friars and recite some of the poetry of the patriots on the grounds of Min Hla Fortress. "The group went to Kway Chaung Fortress to perform the wedding for you. You can rent small motor yachts in Min Hla to sail across the stream to Kway Chaung Fortress.
A number of a number of tourist offices offer cruises along the Pyay-Mandalay rivers that run through the Min Hla area.