Shwebo is 64 miles north of Mandalay on the motor and railroad to Myitkyina. It is 17 miles west of Kyauk Myaung. a river-side town on the Ayeyarwady. which is famous for glazed pottery works from toys. cups. letters. bowls. pots to huge water jars that are tied in hundreds and floated down the river as rafts. These are widely used throughout the country. Shwebo was the native town of U Aung Zeya. the founder of the Kone Baung Dynasty against the rule of the Mon Monarchy in 1752 and lasted over two centuries. He subdued all the war-lords and racial chieftains and unified the whole country under one kingdom.
As Shwebo was the first capital of the last dynasty of Myanmar kings. there is a belief that the land in this place is a land of victory. Even after the capital was shifted to other places. the Kings. their royal officials and high ranking army commanders used to come back to tread the “earth of victory land” at Shwebo. in a ceremonial way. During colonial times this belief was discouraged. but still the people. continued to believe that before any important undertaking the victory land at Shwebo should be trod. After Independence. the people of Shwebo under the guidance of Webu Sayadaw. built a Victory Land Pagoda and established a Victory Land Enclosure. and also a monastery called Aung Mye Kyaung Daik or Victory Land Monastery. Visitors nowadays usually take back a handful of Victory earth to keep in their houses.
The place and other royal parks. lakes. moats and watch tower have been neglected. disrepaired. ravaged and ruined in the last two centuries. With the promotion of the tourism industry. the government has launched upon the reconstruction of the palace buildings. parks and dredged the royal lake for the benefit of the visitors and locals.
Shwebo can be reached by car or rail from Mandalay under four hours. The Pyu culture dating back to the second century A.D. flourished at Hanlin. the ruins of which can still be seen. a few miles south of Shwebo. Travel by car under less than an hour. It is the rice bowl of Upper Myanmar with vast stretches of paddy land.
SHWE CHET THOE PAGODA
Shwe Chet Thoe Pagoda was built by king Alaung Hpaya. The site of the pagoda was where U Aung Zeyar (The King) was born and his umbilical cord buried. King Hsin Byu Shin. son of King Alaung Hpaya donated the bell and the Chief Queen Khin Yun San of King Alaung Hpaya donated the Tower for this bell.
MYA THEINDAN PAGODA
Mya Theindan Pagoda in Shwebo was also built by King Alaung Hpaya in his deeds of merit. When the successors of King Alaung Hpaya shifted the capital to Central Myanmar. most of the royal buildings and pagodas were neglected and left to dereliction. With the passage of time over one and a half centuries this pagoda was so dilapidated that in 1918 the famous Myanmar novelist James Hla Gyaw repaired. renovated and installed a new ornamental finial. Hti in Myanmar means umbrella. On the demise of the donor. his ashes were interred in the walled enclosure at this pagoda.
ZABU SIMEE PAGODA
This pagoda was built by U Hpo Mya & Mai Palaung. the parents of Queen Khin Yum San. the Chief Queen of King Alaung Hpaya. It was a deed of merit and the name means “Oil Lamp of Janbudipa”.
SHWE TANSAR PAGODA
This pagoda is one of the oldest in Shwebo. It is supposed to have been built by King Alaung Sithu of the Bagan Dynasty. The important aspect with a famous image of Buddha carved out of a very fragrant wood. This image is called the Shwe Tazar means Ornament of Beatitude and the pagoda derives its’ name from this image. The image is so famous that Kings of Myanmar had vied for it and had taken it to the different capitals viz.. Inwa. Hantha Waddy. Taungoo and back to Inwa. Sagaing and finally to Shwebo.
SHWE THEINDAW PAGODA
This pagoda is also one of the oldest in Shwebo and dates back to the Bagan Period. It derives its’ name from the venerable Thein (Sima) or Ordination Hall where monks are ordained into the Order. The inscriptions on the two bells in the pagoda were donated by King Badon mentions that the pagoda was built by King Narapati Sithu. Its unusual feature is that it is enclosed within three walls. The outer two walls are in ruins due to dereliction but the innermost stone wall is well preserved. A visit to these ancient pagodas would be worth the trouble.