Shwedagon Pagoda – The Holy Site of Buddhism in Yangon

12 Jun 2019 by Admin

When visiting Yangon, Myanmar, one of the sites that should always be in your itinerary is Shwedagon Pagoda. The majestic and glittering appearance creates another name for the place – the Golden Pagoda. Thousands of people are drawn here every day to worship, offer flowers and meditate. This Pagoda is often regarded as the most significant Buddhist site of Yangon City in particular and Myanmar in general.

Not far from the heart of Yangon, Shwedagon Pagoda resides west of the Royal Lake on Singuttara Hill with the area of 114 acres. Since the pagoda is built on an elevated hill, tourists wandering around Yangon can easily notice its prominent image from a distance.


The Prominent Image of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

Anecdote of the Pagoda

The Golden Pagoda is claimed to be constructed more than 2600 years ago, which would make it the oldest pagoda in the world. The pagoda is the home of four momentous sacred relics of four ancient Buddhas. The four relics include of eight hair strands of Gautama Buddha, water filter of Konagamana, a cord of Kassapa and the stick of Kakusandha.

According to an ancient fable, two brothers, who once lived in the ancient city of Balkh (Afghanistan in present day), had the chance to meet Lord Gautama Buddha in his lifetime and received eight hair strands of the Buddha. Then they travel to Myanmar and found Singuttara Hill with the assistance of King Okkalapa of Burma. In the end, Shwedagon Pagoda was built as a place to preserve Buddhist relics.

Construction and decoration

Upon the finish of its construction, the Pagoda only had a humble height of 8.2 meters. However, through dynasties, many kings and queens have contributed to elevating the height of the pagoda to 99 meters like what we can see today.


The Majestic Appearance of The Pagoda at Night

The word “Golden” in the Pagoda’s name speaks volume of one material in its construction: gold. This pagoda is decorated with 8688 plates of gold, which make it shimmer in the daylight and glow when night falls. Nevertheless, besides gold, the pagoda is encrusted with more than 7000 diamonds and gemstones like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. On the very top of the supat is a diamond bud (or “sein bu” in the local tongue) containing a huge 72-carat diamond.

Features inside the Pagoda

There is a collection of 1485 bells inside the Pagoda of Shwedagon with various sizes and weights. When the sun sets, all bells chime at the same time, creating a fantastic moment. The pagoda is said to once have the Great Bell of Dhammazedi which is the largest bell ever existed. Unfortunately, it was stolen by a warlord from Portuguese and the ship carrying it was wrecked on the sea.


Thousands of Bells Are Placed in The Pagoda Area

Inside the pagoda area, stands a 150-year-old Bodhi tree, which is said to grow from a seed of the original Bodhi tree in India under which Gauram Buddha was enlightened.


A Monk Meditates Under The Bodhi Tree

Speaking of Buddhist practice, religious festivals held in almost every month of Myanmar lunar calendar attract thousands of people to the pagoda. On the days of festivals, the pagoda is thronged by waves of devotees from early morning till late night. Some of the festivals to be named are “Tabaung Festival” or Full Moon Festival and “Thingyan Festival” or New Year Festival of Myanmar.

Apart from being a site for worshipping, Shwedagon Pagoda is also a curator for artistic, historical and cultural values of Myanmar. The exhibit inside the pagoda is a tribute to those who constructed it, to the beliefs of Buddhism that it presents, and to the hopes that it arouses.

Some tips for visitors

When you are in Yangon, the cheapest way to get to Shwedagon Pagoda is by bus. Even if the bus drivers don’t understand English, you just need to say “Shwedagon Pagoda” then they will take you there. The bus ticket only cost 100 MMK. Besides, if you don’t have to worry much about your budget, then you can also take a taxi to travel there.


A Typical Bus in Yangon

There is an unwritten rule that visitors have to dress modestly with have their shoulders and knees covered. And you are also required to take off your shoes before entering the sacred pagoda complex.

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