Kyaukhtayan, on the Ayerwaddy River a few miles below Pyay,
those are a number of Buddha Images cut off into the rocky
shoes of a bluff overhanging the river. They are honestly
cut out of the rock. They are almost fifty in number,
varying considerately in size, some being very large. A
similar work may be seen on the hillside above Sagaing,
opposite of Ava.
There is also a site which similar with Kyaukhtayan images
called Akauk Taung. Akauk Taung is located two hours driving
distance by car from Pyay. The historical background of
Akauk Taung is related with the British-Myanmar relationship
during colonial period. The British fought three wars of
conquest to colonialize Myanmar in the late 18th century.
The first Anglo-Burmese war took place in 1824 when the
British annexed Tanintharyi and Arakan. The second in 1846
for lower Myanmar and the third in 1885-86, when the British
completed their conquest of Myanmar by taking Mandalay, the
capital of royal kingdom, deposing the king and queen and
destroying the remaining Myanmar sovereignty.
It is believed to have been known after the second
Anglo-Burmese war; Akauk Taung considered the river border
between upper and lower Myanmar, between Myanmar and
British. Echoes of this colonial border remain today. As
Akauk Taung mark the border between Ayeyarwaddy division and
Bago division, Akauk Taung was a point for British customs
house and Myanmar customs house during colonial period. The
both cargo boats and passenger boats had to pay a tax at the
Myanmar customs house if they were going up river and to the
British customs house if they were going down river. Akauk
Taung also was an ideal place to take shelter from stormy
weather. So boats were often laid-up at Akauk Taung.
Sometimes for days or even weeks, waiting out bad weather
and paying customs tax. The people on the boat, sailors,
passengers and merchants, naturally become bored with
waiting, so the question became “what to do in all that
It will be no doubt, in the other parts of the world; people
might amuse themselves in such a situation by card playing,
gambling, drinking or other pastimes. But Myanmar people,
steeped in Buddhism, didn't generally want to do such
things. They tend to do good deeds even in their leisure
time. And so, Akauk Taung's most unique feature developed.
People began curving statues of the Buddha on the bank of
the river, paying homage to the Buddha and gaining merit.
This soon became habitual and almost compulsory; every
boatman, while waiting to pay tax or for a change in the
weather, had to curve a statue. Today, although erosion has
taken its toll, hundreds of these statues can still be seen
on the bank of the river. It is now an attraction.