The Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most famous architectural and religious symbols of Myanmar. A visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda will makes you understand better about the Burmese’s religious life.
Of all the holy places and architectural monuments erected by the Burmese, there is a one that has become the emblem of Burma: the Shwedagon Pagoda, located in Yangon. Built over 2500 years ago, the Shwedagon Pagoda is an architectural splendor, which has been prominent not only in its time but also in following centuries.
A visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda is an almost inseparable part of a trip to Burma and will allow you to contemplate the gilded reliefs sparkling beneath the sun, as the proof of men’s fervor for the Buddhist faith
1. Brief history of the Shwedagon Pagoda
It’s legendarily said that the Shwedagon Pagoda was built 2500 years ago, but archaeological research estimated its construction between the VI and the X century. It was the family of Queen Shinsawbu who provided the craftsmen creating gold leaves to cover the stupa.
The Pagoda has suffered numerous damages for centuries, particularly earthquakes. Thus, it has often had to be rebuilt. In the 20th century, the Shwedagon Pagoda was one of the hubs of political activities during the Burmese independence movement. Nowadays, as a famous symbol of Burma, it is one of the most visited sites of Yangon and the country.
2. What to visit in your trip to the Shwedagon Pagoda
During your tour in Burma, you will surely have the opportunity to stop at the Swedagon Pagoda to contemplate its sparkling reliefs. The complex of the Pagoda offers you multiple sites to visit.
The most famous sight of the Shwedagon Pagoda is the main stupa located on a wide platform of 275m in length with multiple stupas surrounding it. Everyday, a great number of Buddhists all over the world come there to pray. At each corner of the octagonal Pagoda there is a temple with an image of Buddha. Each temple has a planet and an assigned animal, and believers pray at the temple corresponding to their birthday.
The main stuppa
Being visible from many places in Yangon, it is the most imposing and impressive structure of the complex. Its size (100m in height) is magnified by the golden leaves that cover its surface. At its summit, it’s the hti with thousands of diamonds and other precious stones. The set reaches 2,000 carats of precious stones.
The main stuppa is particularly venerated by the faithful, as it contains many holy relics, including a Buddha’s hair.
The other sites of the complex
During your visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Burma, if you have been overwhelmed by the beauty of the main stupa, do not forget to look around because the site contains many other beautiful structures.
The inscription of Dhammazedi is a very interesting work. This tablet, written in Burmese, Mon and Pali, dates from 1485, and contains information about the history of the Pagoda.
Naungdawgyi Pagoda is accessible only to men, and had housed the relics of Buddha before they were moved to the main stupa.
Buddha performances are numerous on the site, and more beautiful than those of any other pagoda. An elongated Buddha of 8 meters in length can be seen in one of the prayer halls. Other colored Buddhas are visible in one of the 68 pagodas surrounding the foot of the main stupa.
The pavilions and pagodas are beautifully decorated with carved woodwork and murals depicting the different lives of Buddha.
The Cloche Pavilion is one of the other wonderful places located on the complex of the Shwedagon Pagoda. It houses a bell of 23 tons cast in the 18th century.
3. A visit to the Pagoda Shwedagon: Practical Information
→ How to get there?
The Shwedagon Pagoda is located on the Singuttara Hill, west to Kandawgyi Lake in Yangon. If you take a taxi from the city center, it will cost you about 3USD.
If you travel by the bus no. 43, it will take you 10 minutes to walk from its bus stop to the Pagoda. You can also get on the bus no. 204, which will take you closer to the Pagoda.
→ Other information
If your tour in Burma passes through the Shwedagon Pagoda, be aware that the temple is open between 04:00 and 22:00 every day, except a day in March and a day in June when it remains open all day and all night.
Its entrance fee costs 8USD per person. As the Pagoda is a holy place, you will be asked to dress properly. Particularly, your clothes need to cover your shoulders and knees, and you have to take off your shoes before entering the pagoda.
During your tailor-made tour in Burma, the pagoda will be one of the most must-visit places. A visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda will makes you understand better about the place of religion in the life of the Burmese.