Travel Shwedagon Pagoda, in Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

Gleaming in gold and embellished with diamonds, the massive Shwedagon Pagoda (also Shwe Dagon Pagoda or Shwedagon Paya) in Yangon may be a spectacular work of Burmese temple design and is that the holiest Buddhist shrine in Myanmar.

Myth & Mystery

The legend of the Schwedagon Pagoda begins with 2 Burmese merchant brothers who met the Buddha himself. The Buddha gave them eight of his hairs to be enshrined in Burma. With the assistance of many nat (spirits) and also the king of this region of, the brothers discovered the hill where relics of previous Buddhas had been enshrined.

A chamber to deal with the relics was engineered on the sacred spot and when the hairs were taken from their golden casket, superb things happened:

there was a tumult among men and spirits... rays emitted by the Hairs penetrated up to the heavens higher than and right down to hell... the blind beheld objects... the deaf heard sounds...the dumb spoke distinctly... the world quaked... Mount Meru shook... lightning flashed... gems rained down till they were knee deep... all trees of the Himalaya, though not in season, bore blossoms and fruit.

Once the relics were safely placed within the new shrine, a golden slab was laid on the chamber and a golden stupa engineered over it. Over this was layered a silver stupa, then a tin stupa, a copper stupa, a lead stupa, a marble stupa and an iron-brick stupa.

Later, the legend continues, the Schwedagon stupa fell into ruin till the Indian emperor Asoka, a Buddhist convert, came to Myanmar and explore for it. Finding it solely with nice problem, he then had the jungle cleared and also the stupa repaired.

It is straightforward to check why the Schwedagon Pagoda is such a holy place for believers. engineered on the location of the relics of previous Buddhas, containing the relics of the foremost recent Buddha, the location of miracles and of royal patronage, this can be a very important stupa indeed.


Legend has it that the Shwedagon Pagoda is a pair of,500 years previous, however archaeologists estimate it had been initial engineered by the Mon someday between the sixth and tenth centuries (i.e. throughout the Bagan period). The pagoda emerges from legend into history in 1485, that is that the date of an incription close to the highest of the japanese stairway that tells the story of Shwedagon in 3 languages (Pali, Mon, and Burmese).

It was around this point that the tradition of gilding the stupa began. Queen Shinsawbu provided her own weight in gold (fortunately she was a light-weight at 40kg), that was created into gold leaf and used to hide the surface of the stupa.

The queen's son-in-law, Dhammazedi, offered four times his own weight and that of his wife's in gold and provided the abovementioned 1485 inscription. it's been rebuilt again and again since then thanks to earthquakes (including eight within the seventeenth century alone); the present structure dates from the rebuild beneath King Hsinbyushin in 1769.

After the primary Anglo-Burmese War in 1824, British troops occupied the Schwedagon Pagoda complicated, that stands high over the town sort of a castle. In 1852, throughout the second war, the British occupied the pagoda for seventy seven years and pillaged its treasures. In 1871, King Mindon Min from Mandalay provided a brand new hti (the ornamental top), flustering the occupying British.

As an emblem of national identity, the Schwedagon Pagoda was the scene of abundant political activity throughout the Myanmar independence movement within the twentieth century. Amazingly, the massive earthquake of 1930 (which destroyed the Schwemawdaw in Bagan) caused solely minor harm to the Yangon stupa. however the subsequent year, it suffered from a disastrous hearth. once a minor earthquake in 1970, the most stupa was totally refurbished.

What to check

The great Schwedagon Pagoda stands on a platform covering over five hectares on a hill 58m higher than ocean level. It are often seen from just about anywhere within the town, and also the voters of Yangon literally live out their everyday lives in its shadow.

There are four coated walkways that lead up to the pagoda's platform. each the southern and northern entrances have the selection of an elevator or stairs; the western entrance has escalators rather than stairs and is that the solely entrance while not vendors. The japanese stairway has the foremost authentic atmosphere, because it passes monasteries and vendors selling monastic wants.

The southern entrance, from Schwedagon Paya Road, is that the closest issue to the most entrance and is guarded by 2 18-foot-high chinthe (mythical lion-dragons). you want to take away your shoes and socks before you climb the steps.

The steps are lined with outlets selling flowers (both real and paper) for offerings, further as Buddha pictures, incense, antiques and different things. Despite the vendors, the walkway is cool and quiet, that solely will increase the impact of bright sun and overwhelming color as you step onto the platform at the highest.

Main Stupa

The platform is packed with glittering, colourful stupas, however the massive main stupa is that the center of attention for many pilgrims. A mat pathway has been laid around it to safeguard visitors' clean feet from burning on the recent marble platform. The stupa is totally solid, each in. is roofed in gold, and also the higher components are studded with diamonds totaling over a pair of,000 carats.

The main stupa is supported on a sq. plinth that stands vi.4m (20 feet) higher than the platform, setting it aside from the opposite stupas. On this raised platform are smaller stupas: massive ones on the four cardinal directions, medium ones at the four corners, and sixty tiny ones round the perimeter. With the permission of the pagoda trustees, men might climb up onto the plinth terrace, that is concerning 6m wide, to meditate.

Rising from the bottom are 3 terraces, then octagonal sections, then 5 circular bands. along these components add up to thirty m (90 feet) in height and build the transition from the sq. base to the spherical parts higher than. The stupa's nice bell is roofed in gold leaf that is regilded per annum. The shoulder of the bell is embellished with sixteen "flower" shapes.

The bell is topped by an "inverted bowl" and higher than this are the moldings and "lotus petals" - a band of down-turned petals followed by a band of up-turned petals. the ultimate component of the stupa itself is that the "banana bud," that is roofed with thirteen,153 plates of gold (as hostile the gold leaf of the lower sections), every measuring thirty sq cm.

Topping the stupa is that the spectacular hti (spire decoration), that has seven tiers. product of iron and coated in gold plates, the hti weighs well over a lot. to the present is added gold bells, silver bells and numerous jewellery. the very best tier carries a flag and turns with the wind. It gold-plated and silver-plated and studded with 1100 diamonds that total 278 carats, and 1383 different precious stones.

At the terribly high of the spire is that the diamond orb - a hollow gold sphere studded with 4351 diamonds totalling 1800 carats. On the terribly tip rests one, 76-carat diamond.

    Shwedagon Pagoda at dusk

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