By Maung Tha (Archaeology)
KhinU Township, the native land of eminent Buddhist monk Webu Sayadaw, was also a birthplace of Mei Yun San, First Queen of King Alaung Mintaya, who established the Third Myanmar Empire. KhinU Township in Shwebo District of Sagaing Region is 751 kilometres north from Yangon and 33.5 kilometres northwest of Shwebo. It is necessary to take four hours for RBE drive from Mandalay to KhinU. Anya Thihataw Pagoda and ancient Sipoktara city take positions in KhinU Township.
KhinU in the records
According to the records of the Ministry of Home Affairs, an area of outpost called KinU in Myanmar language was set to defend enemies from area of Wuntho Saopha in the northern part and that of Moemeik Saopha in the eastern part in Shan State as well as those from Kathei from the north. Later, the name of area was changed to KhinU from KinU. Myanmar encyclopaedia mentioned that Chaukywa, Kantha and Nyaungzin stations were combined as Chaukywa Township in around 1891 AD, and government offices were set up in the area of KhinU. It was governed by Nga Chit Nyo who did not be loyalty to King Alaung Mintaya in Konbaung era.
In the past, the area of KhinU Township was for 12 villages. Among them, North KhinU, South KhinU and Puzawkon villages became KhinU town. The area of KhinU was formed with hillocks namely Ingyin, Theindaw, Puzaw, Panpon, Tawnaykyaung, Thinzok, Wambe and Ywahta.
KhinU Township stretching from the east to the west is at an altitude of 403 feet. The area of the whole township is 400.82 square miles and KhinU, 0.71 square mile.
It shares border with Ayeyawady River and Thabeikkyin Township in the east, Mu River and YeU Township in the west, Shwebo Township in the south and Kanbalu Township in the north. It is home to 153,648 people, 153,602 of who are Bamar ethnic. The majority of the people in the township believe in Buddhism and some people in Christianity and Islam. The township is combined with five wards and 147 villages in 59 village-tracts. It gains 44.32 inches of rainfall in 2017 set as the largest record.
Ancient evidences in KhinU Township
Local people assumed that an earthen lake in Pintin Village, among five self-reliant dams and five earthen lakes irrigating farmlands in KhinU Township, had been dredged since Pyu era. Such lake is called Mawragiwa Lake (Daunglezalok Lake) with storage capacity of 10,240 cubic feet of water benefiting 1,800 acres of lands.
People in successive eras assumed that Kyaungphyu Pagoda built by Queen Thambula of King Kyansittha is located at the lower part of the bund of Pintin Lake. A mound under bushes was renovated by the local people. So, it does not have any original works.
Local people say PhaungdawU Pagoda in Pintin Village was built by King Narapatisithu of Bagan in 555 Myanmar era together with Shwekoktaw Pagoda in Nyaunggan Village of KhinU Township and Shwelinpin Pagoda in Sipoktara Village. The damaged PhaungdawU Pagoda was renovated in 1993. Now, the 37 feet high pagoda can be seen.
According to the data of the township, Anya Thihataw Pagoda, Sipoktara Shwelinpin Pagoda and Ingyinpin Tawya are eminent religious edifices among 1,617 pagodas, 539 stupas and 207 monasteries in the township. Some people assumed Htantabin Village as an ancient city near Zigon Village, north of KhinU but it may be an ordinary village due to lack of brick walls. However, a brick monastery in Nyaungyan era takes a position in Htantabin Village. Shwekar Village, two miles northwest of ancient Sipoktara city was the native village of Mei Yun San, First Queen of King Alaung Mintaya. Her residence in Shwekar Village belongs to generations of U Seik Kaung and Daw Yar but they still maintain the land plot without construction of any buildings. The compound is 200 feet long and 168 feet wide.
Ancient Sipoktara city in KhinU Township is located at north latitude 22°49’ and east longitude 95°35’. Currently, Sipoktara is a village, formed with 669 houses of 3,145 people.
Travellers must turn right at the entrance from KhinU and go straight along the five miles long earthen road. They can see a road direction leading to Sipoktara Shwelinpin Pagoda. Then, if they turn three miles to the west, they will arrive at Sipoktara.
It was reported that the canal from KhinU to the road direction to Shwelinpin Pagoda was dredged in the reign of King Alaung Mintaya. Such kind of canal is still used to feed water into Maha Nanda Lake in Shwebo. At the entrance to Sipoktara, one-side collapsed ancient walls can be seen at the eastern gate. Travellers can see the southern wall but the northern one remains as a mound. If one goes out southwest of Shwelinpin Pagoda precinct, one can see corners of western and southern walls of the ancient city. Moreover, a cultivable land which can be assumed as a moat can be seen. In the southeast of the pagoda, many mounds of ancient pagodas are under bushes. If these mounds are excavated, ancient evidences of Sipoktara may be found.
Sipoktara in the history
Sayadaw U Nipunna of Sipoktara explained the city was established in 555 ME. Shwebo District Gazetteer compiled in 1924 mentioned Sipoktara was built in 4th century AD in the time of King Duttabaung. Some people said guard cities Ngayanee in the northeast and KinU (KhinU) in the southeast were built together with Sipoktara. Some wrote Sipoktara was one of five subordinate cities in the time of first Tagaung era. One of 10 Buddha images built by Bagan King Narapatisithu is kept in Sipoktara.
Everybody pay homage to the Buddha image of Shwelinpin Pagoda believed as an image built by King Narapatisithu, and Mei Yun San, the First Queen, also paid homage to the image. The Buddha image is kept in ancient, wooden Sipoktara Monastery, and it is fenced by iron rods.
Ten Buddha images of King Narapatisithu are located in Sipoktara in KhinU Township, Kaunghmutaw Pagoda in Sagaing, Samon Village in Sagaing Township, Hlahtwe Village in Wetlet Township, Shwetaza Pagoda in Shwebo, and one each in Mingin, Singu, Kalay, Kyahnyet and ChaungU townships.
The west hall of the monastery stores ancient objects, Buddha images and human statues. Moreover, Thitsadaw red treatise used in cursing is displayed at the monastery but the original treatise was buried.
The wooden monastery was built with gilt posts. Each post is labelled in numbers in addition to names of donors in golden colour. Eastern posts were re-gilt and the western ones were in original works.
While in KhinU Township, Ma Khin Zu Zu Hlaing and family took me to Ingyinpin Tawya where eminent Webu Sayadaw resided.
Ingyinpin Tawya is five miles north of earthen road from the right of entrance to KhinU. Then, the road leads to Inginpin Village.
The pagoda built by Webu Sayadaw and other religious edifices can be seen at one mile square brick walls at Ingyinpin Tawya. These buildings store utensils used by the Sayadaw, coffin and many documentary photos. The vehicle used by the Sayadaw is displayed in the precinct of the Tawya.
Despite not so many visitors, KhinU Township preserving interesting sites together with an ancient city is historical area.
(Translated by Than Tun Aung)
Facts related to KhinU Township (General Administration Department)
Research over early Konbaung era (Dr Tin Win)
Clarifications of Sipoktara Sayadaw U Nipunna