- Location:Shwedagon Pagoda Road, Dagon Township in Yangon, Myanmar
- Attraction Type: Pagoda
- Significance: Historical visit to the most popular Buddhist pilgrimage
- Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the pagoda is dawn and dusk when the pagoda shimmers in the rays of rising and setting sun. The pagoda is open from 4 am to 10 pm.
- How To Reach: From the airport, the only way to get to the pagoda is by a taxi. Nearest Airport: Yangon International Airport
The imposing Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is an outstanding work of Burmese temple architecture and is the most sacred Buddhist shrine in Myanmar. The Pagoda sits upon holy Singuttara Hill, visible from miles away. It rises 99.4 meters (326 feet) with the perimeter measuring 432.8 meters (1,420 feet) and glittering in gold. The very top is tipped with a 76-carat diamond.
This pagoda shines in gold and is decorated with diamonds. It is revered by the Buddhists because it is said to include the relics of all four Enlightened Buddhas and not just the relics of the present Gautama Buddha.
The pagoda remains open from 4 am to 10 pm. The entry to Shwedagon Pagoda will cost you $5. Photography is permitted inside the pagoda.
History and Myth of Shwedagon Pagoda
According to legend, it is said that the Shwedagon Pagoda is 2,500 years old, whereas archaeologists estimate it was first built sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries during the Bagan period.
Tapussa and Bhallika brought the original sacred hair of Buddha from India and on their way to Myanmar, the two brothers were relieved of 2 hair by the King of Ajetta, and 2 more were robbed by the King of Nagas.
Sakka, Lord of the Heaven, came down to earth and assisted in the selection of the site; but he had to invoke the aid of the 4 spirits. The relics of the 3 proceeding Buddhas were excavated under their direction in one spot, and were buried there again along with the sacred hair. Before placing them in the vault dug on the hill, the casket containing the hair was opened and instead of 4, 8 hair flew up to the height of seven palm trees emitting rays of many hues. A golden stone was placed on top of the vault and on it was erected a golden pagoda enclosed within silver, tin, copper, marble, lead, and iron brick pagodas up to a height of 66 feet.
Until the 14th century, rarely anything was known of the Pagoda. In AD 1372, Binnya U, King of Hantharwaddy visited Yangon in state the repaired the Pagoda. Successive Kings of Myanmar repaired it till the Shwe Dagon reached its present size some five centuries ago.
Structure and Complex of Shwedagon Pagoda
The perimeter of the base of the Pagoda is 1,420 feet and its height 326 feet above the platform. The base is surrounded by 64 small pagodas with four larger, one in the center of each side. There also are 4 sphinxes, one at each corner with 6 leogryphs, 3 on each side of them. Projecting beyond the base of the Pagoda, one on the center of each side are Tazaungs in which are images of the Buddha and where offerings are made.
There are also figures of elephants and men kneeling, and pedestals for offerings all around the base. In front of the 72 shrines surrounding the base of the Pagoda, you will find in several places images of serpents, lions, yogis, spirits, ogres.
There are four entrances to the pagoda, the one on the eastern and southern sides have vendors selling good luck charms, candles, books, gold leaf, Buddha images, streamers, incense sticks, prayer flags, miniature umbrellas and flowers. The southern entrance is guarded by two giant mythical lions.
What To See in Shwedagon Pagoda
The platform is full of glittering, colorful stupas or pagoda, but the huge main stupa is the center of attention for most pilgrims. A mat pathway has been laid around it to protect visitors’ bare feet from burning on the hot marble platform.
While much of the pagoda’s beauty derives from the complex geometry of its shape and surrounding structures, equally amazing is its golden glow. The lower stupa is plated with solid gold bars, and the upper part with 13,153 gold bars. The tip of the stupa is too too high for the human eye to see in any detail. It is set with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other gems, 1065 golden bells and, at the very top, a single 76-carat diamond. Surrounding the pagoda are a number of smaller shrines housing pre-Buddhist spirits, miracle working images, and even a wish granting stone. The entire temple complex radiates a sense of beauty and serenity.
The large platform that supports the great stupa contains a variety of other stupas, prayer halls, sculptures and shrines.
You can visit some of the nearby places from Shwedagon Pagoda. There places are: Maha Wizaya Pagoda, People’s Park and People’s Square, Martyrs’ Mausoleum, Kandawgyi Nature Park or Kandawgyi Garden and Karaweik Hall.
Accommodation in Shwedagon Pagoda
There are many hotels to choose from in Yangon. The hotels offer care and comfort to its guests. Some of the names of hotels can be listed as Kandawgyi Palace, Sedona Hotel, Nikko Royal Lake Hotel, Dusit Inya Lake Resort, Savoy Hotel, Park Royal Hotel, Trader Hotel, and Micasa Hotel etc.