Shwedagon Pagoda is one of most revered Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Myanmar. The 100m tall stupa situated on Singuttara Hill majestically illuminates the skyline above the Yangon city. The stupa is covered in gold plates, gold leaf and its throne is decorated with diamonds and other precious gem stones.
The legend of Shwedagon Pagoda
The story goes two Burmese merchants who paid homage and gave alms to Buddha while in India received 8 hairs from him in return which were brought back to homeland Okkalapa.
King of Okkalapa constructed the first pagoda where the Buddha’s relics were encased. Singuttara Hill was chosen for the location.
Over the last 2500 years during the reign of 32 kings and different administrations Shwedagon grew from a small modest pagoda to a remarkable temple complex. Many smaller temples and monasteries have been built around the main stupa by devotees. Some of the great kings are told to have donated their weight of gold to be applied on the stupa.
While lower part of Shwedagon stupa is covered in layers of leaf gold replenished every 2-3 years the higher part of the stupa is covered with gold plates and the top crown is decorated with diamonds and other precious gem stones.
Shwedagon Pagoda being most sacred monument in Myanmar it remains the highest construction in Yangon. Nothing is allowed to be higher than the Shwedagon. In the evening its golden glow can be seen from various parts of the city.
No visit to Myanmar is complete without visit to Shwedagon, one hour is usually enough for most, but you can easily spend more time soaking in the atmosphere watching meditators, have a chat with friendly students and local families coming to spend time in the pagoda. Observe people donating flowers, lighting candles and incense and water for their birthday Buddha’s and volunteering in cleaning activities for merit making.
If you have more time take a walk through monastic compounds to a lively market street filled with artisans and merchants.