Wednesday, October 03, 2007
NAY PYI DAW - ABODE OF KINGS
urma's supreme dictator, Senior General Than Shwe has been said to have monarchical pretensions, a characteristic perhaps expressed best in his decision to move the national capital 200 miles to the north, located in "Kyatpyae Village of Pyinmana Township of Mandalay Division." The administrative capital was officially placed at a "greenfield site" two miles west of Pyinmana in November 2005.
The official name was announced the following March, on Armed Forces Day, and translates as "Royal City" or "Abode of the Kings." The parade grounds are loomed over by enormous sculptures of the three most important kings in Burmese history -- Anawrahta, Bayinnaung and Alaungpaya U Aung Zeya.
Indian journalist Siddharth Varadarajan visited Nay Pyi Daw in January this year, and authored a photo feature for Himal Southasian Magazine:
"Naypyitaw, then, is the ultimate insurance against regime change, a masterpiece of urban planning designed to defeat any putative ‘colour revolution’ – not by tanks and water cannons, but by geometry and cartography. 320 kilometres to the south, Rangoon, with five million people, is home to one-tenth the country’s population. But even if that city were brought to a standstill by public protests and demonstrations, Burma’s military government – situated happily in the middle of paddy fields in the middle of nowhere – would remain unaffected."Canadian filmmaker Austin Andrews and his friend Will managed to get into the construction zone in June of this year, coming away with some very good photos. Both their blogs have an account of the trip. There are very few photos of this purpose-built city apart from the military parade grounds. Austin and Will have the first photo journals of life in the "Royal City" under construction by men, women and children.
Wai to 2Bangkok's Myanmar Watch for Austin Andrew's blog.
You can take a look at the construction of Nay Pyi Daw by satellite view at Google Maps or with Google Earth (download the Google Earth link, rename the file if necessary so it has .kmz extension, and open with GE).