Pyay is a town in the Pegu Division in Myanmar. Pyay is positioned on the Ayeyarwady River and is 260 km northwest of Yangon.The district of Pyay encompasses the valley of the Ayeyarwady, located between Thayetmyo, Hinthada and Tharrawaddy districts. Along the western side of Pyay District are the Rakhine Yoma mountain ranges, and along the eastern side are the Pegu Yoma mountain ranges. Pyay District’s main towns are Pyay, Shwedaung, and Paungde.
Pyay refers to the ruins of the Pyu capital of Thayaykhittaya, which is located 8 km to the southeast of modern Pyay and is in the village of Hmawa. The founding of the early Pyu kingdoms are legends related to a king called Duttabaung there are some more extensive archaeological information about the Pyu. It indicates that the Pyu are a ethnicity of Tibet who appear to have settled in the Ayeyarwady valley about the same time as the Mon but much further north. Three major sites are known until today which are Thayaykhittaya near Pyay, Beik-thano near Taungdwingyi further to the north, and Halin in the Shwebo district north of Mandalay. Continues excavation and archeological research uncovered Pyu bricks, pottery, coins and jewellery at Hmaing-maw south of Kyauk-hse, Bhindaka near Pyaw-bwe, Chun Hla north of Shwebo, Mataya north of Mandalay, and at Kyaikatha near the delta of the Sittang River. All this indicate that Pyu culture was much more widespread and more closely related to earlier Neolithic cultures as previously thought, it reveal that the Pyu had an imposing civilization. Much debate surrounds the construction of Thayaykhittaya. Pyu might have been founded in 78 CE, based on the Sanskrit / Pyu Era. D.G.E. Hall and Gordon Luce however claim that civilisation of the Ayeyarwady Valley could not have been possible before the 4th century, thus, attributing the founding of Thayaykhittaya to 638 CE, from which the current Burmese Kawza Era begins. Thayaykhittaya was the capital of the Pyu dynasty of Vikrama. The city was circular with walls enclosing an around of 46 km2 (18 sq mi), making it the largest walled city in Southeast Asia during its peak. The city contained both housing and also farms, as evident from the remains of water ways and tanks which have been discovered. The Chinese pilgrims Xuanzang and I Ching mentioned about Thayaykhittaya in their mid 7th century CE accounts. It is not known when precisely the Pyus abandoned Thayaykhittaya and moved northward. It is speculated that their decline was due to the growth of the Ayeyarwady river delta, cutting it off from coastal trade, and also from Mon and later Tai Shan incursions. Burmese chronicles state that when Anawrahta invaded the southern parts of modern day Myanmar in 1057 CE, he ordered the ruins of Thayaykhittaya to be destroyed to prevent rebels from sheltering.The Burmese came to call the old Pyu center Pyay. The extensive ruins have been the subject of intensive archaeological investigation. Pyay was once the centre of a small kingdom that fell after the conquest of Pegu in 1758 by King Alaungpaya, founder of the Konbaung dynasty. Called Prome by the British, the city became part of British territory after the Second Anglo-Burman War in 1853. The town was taken by the British in 1825 and again in 1852, on both occasions with hardly any opposition. In 1862, it was almost entirely destroyed by fire, and was afterwards relaid out in straight and broad streets. It was erected into a municipality in 1874, and since then great improvements have been made, including waterworks. To the south and south-east the town is closed in by low pagoda-topped hills, on one of which stands the conspicuous gilded Shwesandaw Pagoda. The Shwesandaw Pagoda, or Shwesandaw Paya (Sunset Pagoda), is a Buddhist pagoda in the center of Pyay. It is the terminus for a railway from Yangon, which runs through the district. The Shwesandaw Pagoda was built by King Anawrahta in 1057 A.D.