To Shan State South

  • By Maung Tha (Archaeology)
Kakku Pagoda in Taunggyi. copy
Mwe Taw Kakku Pagoda. Photo: supplied

I’ve been visiting Shan State, with its beautiful sites, every year and during this Thingyan (Myanmar New Year) I went to Panglong and nearby townships. As it was summer, except for early morning, evening and night, temperatures in Shan State south was high.
Shan State with an area of 60,155.2 square miles was the biggest of all the states and regions. The triangle shaped Shan State was divided into north, east and south. It was formed with 55 townships in 13 districts. Shan State South was formed with Taunggyi, Langkho and Loilem districts with 19 townships.

Shan State South
Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State was in Shan State South and is 645 km from Yangon and 250 km from Mandalay. Taunggyi District was formed with Taunggyi, Kalaw, Hsihseng, Pindaya, Pinlaung, Pekhon, Yaksawk, Ywangan, Hopong and Nyaungshwe towns.
Around ME (Myanmar Era) 1200 (about AD 1838) Taunggyi was a Pa O village. In Shan language the village name was Tomtee or Taungkyi and it became Taunggyi.
However according to Myanmar encyclopaedia, the town was dwarfed by a big mountain on the east of it and thus its name became Taunnggyi (Taung = mounting, Gyi = big or huge).
Ayethaya town, Kyauktalongyi town and Shwenyaung town were established and included in Taunggyi Township on 20 February 1991, 20 February 2003 and 13 March 2007 respectively.
Taunggyi Township situated at an elevation of 4,712 ft covers an area of 747.83 square miles. Hopong Township is east of Taunggyi Township. On the west of Taunggyi Township are Kalaw and Nyaungshwe township. To the south and north were Hsihseng Township and Yaksawk Township respectively. Taunggyi is a mountainous area and the highest area was at an elevation of 5,755 ft and the lowest area was at an elevation of 2,975 ft.
Taunggyi had a cool weather and the highest temperature was 34 degree centigrade and the lowest was 4 degree centigrade. The raining season had a highest recorded rainfall of 13 inches. The area is covered by pine forests that had various wild lives.
According to the latest census, a number of ethnic nationals lived there. Taunggyi had a population of 386,059 out of which 154,925 or 40.12 per cent were Pa O.
Taunggyi Township had four towns – Taunggyi, Ayethaya, Shwenyaung and Kyauktalongyi – 51 wards, 24 village tracts and 371 villages. Taunggyi town had 22 wards, Ayethaya town had 12 wards and Shwenyaung town had 11 wards and Kyauktalongyi had six wards.
Being a land of pagoda, Taunggyi also had a fair share of pagodas including Mwe Taw Kakku Pagoda complex that was well known among locals as well as foreign visitors. Taunggyi Hot-Air Balloon Festival held in the month of Tazaungmone is also a famous cultural festival.

Htan San Cave copy
Htan San Cave. Photo: Maung Tha (Archaeology)

Taunggyi to Hopong
Hopong is 22 km to the east of Taunggyi. Hopong region famous for its Htan San Cave is at an elevation of 3,541 ft and covers an area of 220.56 square miles. Hopong region was once governed by Saophas. After the Saophas in Shan State gave up their powers in 29 April 1959, Revolutionary Council Government designated the region as Hopong town in 1 July 1972.
Due to the availability of water from a nearby Nat Ta Bat creek, agriculture thrives in the valleys and canyons of Hopong. The name Hopong in Shan language means “upper part of a canyon or valley.”
Today, Hopong is one of the three townships – Hopong, Hsihseng and Pinlaung – that made up Pa O Self-Administered Region and is the capital of Pa O Self-Administered Region. Hopong town covers an area of 2.48 square miles.
Hopong town had cool weather with a highest and lowest temperatures recorded at 39 and 6 degree centigrade. According to 2016 weather record it receives 48.74 inches of rain in 85 days.
Hopong Township had six wards, 22 village tracts and 192 villages. Pa O, Shan, Kahin, Kayah, Kayan, Kayin, Chin, Bama, Rakhine, Inntha, Danu, Lisu and Palaung ethnic nationals live in the township. Hopong Township had a population of 103,360 out of which 70,776 were Pa O and 23,394 where Shan.
Thiri Mingalar Shwe Chan Tha Mwe Taw Pagoda and Htan San Cave are attractions for local and foreign travellers. A natural cave Htan San was full with visitors daily.

Hyper Waterfall copy
Hyper Water Fall. Photo:Sai La

Panglong Land
Panglong Town where the historical Panglong Agreement was signed is situated in Loilem Township. Mongpan governed by one of the martyred leader Sao San Tun is situated about 32 km Southwest of Loilem Town.
Loilem Town is 95.8 km east of Taunggyi Town and Panglong Town is 10.2 km northwest of Loilem Town. Loilem Township was at an elevation of 4,447 ft and covers an area of 501.61 square miles.
Loilem Town was established by the British in 1888 for Laikha, Mongkai, Kehsi, Minenaung, Mongshu, Mongnai, Maukmai and Mongpan Saophas to govern. The name was taken from the nearby Loilem peak. On 4 January 1942, Loilem was designated as a municipal town and before independence it was governed by a mayor appointed by Laikha Saopha. In 1952 Loilem was designated as a district town and on 15 June 2014 Panglong was designated as a town.
East of Loilem Township is Namhsan Township. On the west of Loilem Township is Hopong Township. To the south and north were Maukmai Township and Laikha Township respectively. wLoilem Town had a highest temperature of 26 degree centigrade and a lowest temperature of -4 degree centigrade. It receives 53.43 inches of rain in 106 days during 2014.
Loilem Township had two towns Loilem and Panglong, 8 wards, 19 village tracts and 305 villages. Of the various ethnic nationals living in Loilem Township Pa O and Shan were the majority. The township had a population of 123,635 out of which 56,828 were Pa O and 45,451 were Shan. 96% of the population was Buddhists.
The most significant monument in Loilem Township is the Panglong Monument in Panglong Town Ward 2. Near the Panglong Monument is a Maha Rahta Bitha Maggi Pagoda.

In Shan State there are two towns with the name Namhsan. Namhsan of Shan State North is in Kyaukme District. Namhsan of Shan State South is in Loilem District. Loilem District had Namhsan, Loilem, Kunhing, Mongkai, Mongshu, Laikha and Kehsi townships. Namhsan is 30 km east of Loilem.
Namhsan Township at an elevation of 3,166 ft is on the Taunggyi-Kengtung-Tachilek Union Road and covers an area of 1,594.12 square miles. On the east of Namhsan Township is Kunhing Township. To the west is Loilem Township. To the south and north are Mongnai and Maukmai townships.
Namhsan was once a big village that was destroyed by the war in 1945. As it was on a road junction where travellers and merchants stop for the night, a village was re-established in 1950. In 1958, 10 villages were established nearby for war veterans to conduct agriculture works. In 1959, the Caretaker Government designated Namhsan as a town.
On 27 July 1972 Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs established Namhsan Township with five wards and 20 village tracts. On 12 January 2010, Kholan Town was established with five wards, five village tracts and 38 villages.
The cool and dry Namhsan Township had a highest temperature of 36 degree centigrade and a lowest temperature of -1 degree centigrade. It receives 61.03 inches of rain in 115 days during 2013.
At the moment Namhsan Township was formed with two towns, Namhsan and Kholan, 11 wards, 20 village tracts and 196 villages. It had a population of 103,024 of which 47.6 per cent are Shan ethnic nationals. According to the record of Ministry of Home Affairs there are about 22 ethnic nationals living in Namhsan Township.
Namhsan Town is a very busy town because it was at the junction where Shan State north, south and east met. It was also noted to have a lot of motels. In Mongshu Township that is on the 283 km long Namhsan to Hsipaw Town, Shan State North, is Haifa Waterfall. It is a waterfall that was attracting visitors.
In a trip to Shan State South, traditional foods of ethnic nationals can be enjoyed while their traditional costumes, cultures and traditions can also be observed.
Translated by Handytips

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