The Shwesandaw Pagoda is one of the most beautiful and famous monuments in Bagan. If you decide to take a trip to Burma, never neglect it in your schedule.
Among all the monuments you can see in Bagan in western Burma, Shwesandaw Pagoda is certainly one of the most beautiful and famous one.
If you go to Bagan, you will be hardly able to resist a visit of the Shwesandaw Pagoda, the place of Buddhist cult with pyramidal form and white color standing out of the landscape in Bagan.
1. The history of the Shwesandaw Pagoda
“Shwesandaw” literally means “sacred golden hair”. Indeed, It’s legendarily said that the stupa houses a relic of Buddha’s hair given to King Anawratha by the King of Pegu to thank for his help during a Khmer invasion.
King Anawratha built the Shwesandaw Pagoda after his conquest of Thaton in 1057. The pagoda was at the center of the new kingdom.
At the present time, it is one of the highest pagodas of Bagan, with a height of 100m approximately. The imposing size and special white color make it one of the most visible monuments of the archaeological site.
Following an ancient Pyu tradition, the stupa is located outside the walls of the city, as five other pagodas, including Shwezigon. This brings the spiritual protection to Bagan.
2. Shwesandaw Pagoda, a unique monument in Bagan
For architecture lovers, the Shwesandaw Pagoda is a must-see place during their tour in Burma. Indeed, the style of the pagoda is so particular that it brings the nobility to the monument.
The Shwesandaw Pagoda has painted white. The central circular stupa is surrounded by five terraces which form a base for the monument. The stupa is crowned with a hti covered with gold, like other Buddhist temples.
The statues of Ganesh, the Hindu God with an elephant’s head, can be found at the corners of the five terraces. He is one of the Hindu deities venerated there before the arrival of Buddhism.
Until 1957, the terraces of the pagoda were adorned with hundreds of earthen tablets featuring Jataka tales, the story about the ancient lives of Buddha. Unfortunately, the renovations of the monument which were not always scrupulous erased these traces of the past. In addition, dozens of Buddha representations in bronze or stone were taken to the Archaeological Museum in Bagan.
3. Practical Information for your visit of the Shwesandaw Pagoda
During your tour in Burma, it will be easy to plan your visit to the Shwesandaw Pagoda.
How to get to the pagoda?
The Shwesandaw Pagoda is located in the south of Bagan, on the Bagan-Nyaung U road. To get around Bagan, it’s suggested that you should rent a bicycle, a cheap and ideal way to enjoy the city. The climate there is a little uncomfortable in the summer. As a result, do not forget to bring water with you, and cover yourself with hats and long clothes. You should also take a lamp if you are moving at night. It will cost you about 0.7USD per day to rent a bicycle.
To visit the archaeological site of Bagan, you will need to buy a ticket of a little under 20USD. Keep it to produce in case you are asked.
As in every temple and holy place in the city, you will need to remove your shoes to climb stairs (not recommended for people with dizziness) and to be properly dressed (covered shoulders and over knees).
If you decide to take a visit of the Shwesandaw Pagoda during your tour in Burma, you will not regret it. Its unique architecture and geographical location make it one of the most popular places of the ancient city.