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Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon Myanmar & Buddhist Temple

This Buddha shrine has a long history over a timeframe of around two thousand years and since times immemorial every year is the festival around. There are always people asking where is it? actually its quite simple, it's on a platform is on the highest hill in Yangon dominating the city panorama.

This is one of the most venerated pagoda in the country, it’s not the tallest stupa, the tallest is the Shwemawdaw at Bago, but it is for sure one of the the most famous shrine in the world and also one of the major tourist attraction together with Bagan and

Mandalay. There are some other famous pagodas such as the Shwezigon in Bagan, Sule in Yangon downtown and another very famous pilgrim destination is the Golden Rock Pagoda at Kyaiktiyo in  Mon State about 200 km south east of Yangon.

Everyday monks, nuns, novices and other people visit the platform to pray, meditate or simply stay there for a while. In recent years plenty of tourist join them, below is also some history explained. Other famous Buddhist temples are located at Mandalay, Mrauk U, Bago, Sagaing opposite Mandalay, Monywa and plenty of other places in the country.


the “Mother of all Pagodas in Myanmar”, towering to a height of 326 feet on

Theingottara Hill is the landmark of Yangon, and dominates the shape of the city. Ralph Fitch, the first Englishman to arrive on Myanmar’s shores in 1558, wrote about this Buddhist Temple: “it is called Dagon and is of a wonderful bigness and all gilded from the foot to the top - it is the fairest place, as I suppose, that is in the world.” Rudyard Kipling called this most famous Buddhist temple, ..”a golden mystery lofty on the horizon, a beautiful wonder that blazed in the sun, in his letters from the east published in 1889”.

Here is how Mr. Somerset Maugham, probably the most prominent author during that time about this part of the world experienced it.
Buddhist Temple at the platform
Buddhist Temple at the platform
Shwedagon Pagoda seen from Kandawgyi Lake
Seen from Kandawgyi Lake
Shwedagon West Entrance
West Entrance opposite peoples park
Shwedagon Pagoda West Entrance
Entrance hall from the west
Shwedagon Pagoda West Entrance
Preparing donations for plenty of
buddha shrine
Buddha Shrines

In his “Gentleman in the Parlor,” (1930), Somerset Maugham, at his first sight of the Pagoda was inspired to write that this superb, glistening, golden Buddhist Temple rising superbly upwards, was like a sudden hope in the dark night of the soul.

This Buddhist temple is one of the greatest cultural monuments ever erected by man.” They both are right since there is is no other Buddha temple on earth with this image, charisma and history.


Shwedaon Pagoda Platform
Shwedagon Pagoda Platform today and main stupa

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More pictures of the Myanmar visit of the American President
Shwedagon History
Shwedagon History

Shwedagon History

According to the chronicles, in 585 B.C., Tapussa and Bhallika, two Myanmar merchant brothers went for trade to India.

They were fortunate to meet Lord Buddha and received eight hair relics. They returned to Myanmar and as a gesture of welcoming the hair relics,  

several pagodas were built along the coastal way. These stupas are still known as San-daw-kyo Payamyar (Pagodas built as a token to

welcome the hair relics) King Okkalapa himself came to welcome the hair relics. The Shwedagon Pagoda was built and the relics enshrined there, more.

In 1775, the stupa was rebuilt by King Sinbyushin of Innwa, raising it to its present height, with its present form and new hti. The British forces occupied Theingottara Hill and fortified it in 1824. In 1871, King Mindon placed a new hti, vane and diamond orb on the top.

Over time its this most sacred of all Myanmar shrines and the largest of its kind in the world, is always thronged with devotees, especially on holy days, when water flowers and candles are offered at the images of the Lord Buddha. All visitors are ever welcome

British at Theingottara Hill
British colonial troops at Theingottara Hill
Shwedagon Buddhist Temple
Buddhist Temple at the platform

and they should make it a ‘must’ to explore and get to know more about it, this is the common perception but its not true, if you are foreigner you must pay entrance, no pay, not entrance

During construction,

relics of three preceding Buddha’s (Kakusan, Konago, and Kassapa) were excavated and re-enshrined, giving the temple the name “Pagoda of Four Relics”. The pagoda was successively renovated and rebuilt by the King of Hanthawaddy (Bago).

King Binnya U raised its height to 60 feet, and in 1451 A.D. Queen Shinsawpu raised its height to 302 feet. It was also gilded with gold from top to bottom.


Shwedagon Pagoda Platform

The platform

can be approached by four covered stairway or zaungdans, one from each cardinal point, and four elevators lead up the hill to the main platform.

Stalls line the stairways selling offerings such as flowers, candles and gold leaves; Buddha images and statues made from wood, alabaster and ivory; Buddha shrines for the house; brass-

Shwedagon Pagoda History
English at the Shwedagon
During colonial times.

ware, teak the southeast corner of the of the Buddhist temple platform with a ‘hintha’ bird (mythological bird, also called hamsa) and ivory sculptures; gongs and cymbals.

The main and the busiest entrance of the Pagoda is the southern one. An escalator is in service here and also at the northern entrance, which makes it convenient to get up to the platform to have a look for all this magnificent Buddhist shrines and the peoples around.

First Shwedagon Pagoda history information

came from the end of the 14th Century. From palace chronicles we know that the king of Hanthawaddy (Pegu or today Bago), Byinnya U, started some restoration work on a stupa located near the fishing village of Dagon from where the the name of the stupa was derived. The name Dagon was extended to Shwe Dagon, shwe means gold and dagon means beautiful. The restored stupa had a height of approximately 20 m.

About the following fate already more information is available indicating a series of further improvements and modifications. All this was probably done after an earthquake, since the middle of the 16th Century until the beginning of the 20th Century no less than eight earthquakes were registered, among them the pagoda was damaged and from "repair to repair" the pagoda grow taller and taller.

Shwedagon as seen by Ralph Fitch
As seen by Ralph Fitch

Towards the end of the 15th Century, it reached a height of approximately 90 m. During the reign of queen Shinsawbu in the years 1455 to 1462 a platform around the stupa was created enclosed with walls, this was the base to the still existing ensemble.

This was also described by Ralph Fitch

in the year 1586… two o pt>ipt>ipt> called pray.

This house is fifty five steps long, inside are three corridors flanked by forty gilded columns. This building is open to all sides and inside are more small columns, which are also gilded. Also the house itself glinted from gold decoration internally and externally, this was obviously the ordination hall of the monks.

Also around are buildings where pilgrims can rest and some are for the Tallipoyi, these houses are full of male and female statues, both male and female were gilded from top to bottom. It looks like the most beautiful place on earth.

The building is on top of a hill and can be approached via four path which are bordered left and right by fruit trees to have shadow when walking the 1.5 km to approach the platform.

The description of the English traveler

is interesting in every detail every detail and confirmed more or less the same composition and basic features were in place by the 16th Century. Over time continues building and extensions were made, that went on until today. The present height of the stupa was reached during the Konbaung dynasty in 1774.

The king of Ava, Hsinyushin, extended the monument again and the current high of 99.5m was reached and the current silhouette implemented. Overall, the composition of this Buddhist temple complex was basically finished at the end of the 18th Century although some work is going on

continuously. The stupa itself if only part of the platform with at least another 300 shrines and buildings.

Reclining Buddha, Shwedagon Pagoda
Chinthes or Temple Guardian
Chinthes or Temple Guardian

Pilgrims take shelter

from the burning sun in the open temples the hot marble slabs paving the platform are a problem for bare-footed visitors which finally are everyone since shoes are not allowed. Means visit the pagoda after 3pm when there is shadow around cooling the hot marble slabs, more.

The pagoda orb,

decorated and worked into solid gold are thousands of diamonds, ruby gemstones, imperial jade and other precious stones and diamond jewelry from Myanmar and elsewhere, all have been donated. donations at the pagoda orb
Donations at the pagoda orb

Here are Shwedagon Pagoda Pictures

Buddhist Pagoda Orb
Pagoda Orb this are real diamonds
during British times
Pagoda Hill during British colonial times
Shwedagon Pagoda Hill during British colonial times
and the area around
Shwedagon Buddhist Temple
Buddhist Shrine and devotees
Myanmar Culture
at the west entrance

and people praying.

praying at shwedagon pagoda
Praying at the
shwedagon stupa
Novitiation ceremony
Novitiation ceremony

Maha Tissada Bell
Shwedagon bells and people relaxing
The 42-ton Maha Tissada Bell

donated by King Thayawaddy in 1841 is housed in a spired and embellished pavilion close by. Further away of the Pagoda entrance is the Planetary Post for the Sun it is located at the northeast corner of the main stupa.

Close to the Naungdawgyi Pagoda, right smack in the northeastern corner is the Dhammazedi inscription dating back to 1485, telling the story of the Pagoda in three languages, Pail, Mon and Myanmar. Walking onwards, one reaches the temple of the Kakusandha Buddha, opposite the eastern stairway.

The Eastern Adoration hall is regarded as the most ornate on the platform. The main figure of Kakusandha, the first Buddha and three others in this temple, have their right palms turned upward in a posture which is not the usual one. The Tawa Gu Buddha statue occupies a niche on the upper terrace of the main stupa, behind the Kakusandha Buddhist Temple. This statue has a reputation of being able to perform miracles and only men are allowed to climb onto the upper terrace for a fee. Here on the upper terrace, the visitor will encounter highly devout Buddhists in deep meditation. Just have a look at the Shwedagon Pagoda Pictures here. The Planetary Post for the Moon is beside the Kakusandha Buddhist Temple. The moon, in Myanmar astrology, is recognized as one of the eight planets. Across the Pagoda platform, adjacent to the east stairway is the U Nyo Tazaung with wood carved panels depicting events in the life of Gautama Buddha. A Hamsa Tagundaing or prayer pillar stands close to 

Buddha Statues
Buddha Statues in a temple on the platform
The study of the history of the pagoda

led to the conclusion that this impressive structure is not very old, the inner core might be but everything around not. The central Shwedagon Pagoda stupa and some of its essential parts were renovated and rebuilt in the 19th and even 20th century the earliest buildings on the platform are from the 19th Century. As it is with other buildings in Myanmar there is a continuous restoration going on because usually the torrential monsoon rains and the immense heat do a constant deterioration. There is never any isolation against water be done as it is in almost all buildings in the west, this let the walls crumble constantly.

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