Myanmar :: Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present kalpa.

The only I really wanted to see in Yangon was the Shwedagon Pagoda so I settled on a hotel within walking distance and planned this ONE thing for my time here. Turned out great, since I got sick when I hit Myanmar and ended up just lying in bed for three days.

Some history of the pagoda before my one sentence about my own experience: Historians and archaeologists maintain that the pagoda was built by the Mon people between the 6th and 10th centuries AD.[2] However, according to legend, the Shwedagon Pagoda was constructed more than 2,600 years ago, which would make it the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world.[3] According to tradition, Taphussa and Bhallika — two merchant brothers from the north of Singuttara Hill what is currently Yangon met the Lord Gautama Buddha during his lifetime and received eight of the Buddha’s hairs. The brothers returned to Burma and, with the help of the local ruler, King Okkalapa, found Singuttara Hill, where relics of other Buddhas preceding Gautama Buddha had been enshrined.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Walking to the Shwedagon Pagoda from my hotel

I managed to walk my way here after being in bed for 2,5 days from a severe cold and some food poisoning. My body was not feeling like exploring, but I had one day left before heading for Inle Lake and I wanted to see the pagoda. This might explain why my experience of this place wasn’t mindblowing. It’s a beautiful place with a lot of smaller shrines, statues, old bells and pagodas, and show much gold your eyes start watering, but after about 30 minutes I was pretty much done with the whole affair.

The sun was intense and my bare feet (shoes not allowed, of course) did not appreciate the heat of the stone walkway. In some places the stones where white and/or marble and this made a much cooler surface to walk on – I wish they’d incorporated that on the whole pagoda area, but I’m guessing there are many good reasons (cost, design, etc) why they haven’t. The main pagoda itself is enormous and all covered in gold, so it’s pretty impressive, but my favourite feature was the murial depicting Buddha’s journey to enlightenment.

And in the end, what I will remember with the most fondness is the two ladies working there who fitted me with a skirt/sarong (I was wearing leggings, so I had to rent one) and then when I asked if they were for sale, initially said no, but then asked “you like skirt?” and then they just kept my meager deposit for the rental and told me to “hide it in my bag when I got down to the entrance” 😉

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