Shwedagon Paya – the golden temple of Myanmar
That’s the name by which I knew it before: The Golden Temple of Myanmar (Burma at that time). Its actual name is Shwedagon Paya (Pagoda) , or locally Shwedagon Zedi Daw.
This bell shaped golden pagoda is not only one of the most stunning sights in Myanmar (former Burma), but also in Southeast Asia. And I have to agree with that! The only downside for me was that, at the time of my visit, the pagoda was undergoing renovation, which meant it was all covered in bamboo scaffolding. Thus I could not admire the full golden splendour of it. But nevertheless, it was still the most impressive pagoda I have ever seen.
Located on the Singuttara Hill in Yangon (former Rangoon), Shwedagon Paya it is THE landmark of the city and the most sacred religious site for the people of Myanmar.
A few facts about Shwedagon Paya:
- it is said to contain 8 of Buddhas hair as well as relics of 3 other Buddhas who attained Enlightement
- it is 2500 years old
- it has about 100m height
- it is completely covered in gold (approximately 9 tonnes)
- the tip is decorated with precious stones (diamonds, rubies, sapphires, topaz and a huge emerald right in the middle!)
- it has 4 entrances from the 4 cardinal points
- some parts can only be visited by monks or other man; no women are allowed
I spent only 1.5 days in Yangon and probably half of the time at Shwedagon Paya. I went there in the morning and in the evening. If you have time I would recommend you do the same. The reason for that is that the place has a completely different atmosphere in different moments of the day. In the morning it seemed so peaceful and relaxing and perfect for meditation. And the best part: very few people.
Starting at sunset, more and more people are coming for the evening ceremonies held there daily. At dusk, candles are being lit everywhere transforming this in a magical place.
Additional tip for visiting Shwedagon Paya:
- opening hours: 04:00-22:00
- do not go there during the day as you are asked to remove socks and the floor can get very hot, making it almost impossible to walk (especially if you have more sensitive feet)
- dress code: conservative
The pagoda is situated in the city so it is not difficult to get there either by public transportation or taxi. Alternatively just ask for arrangements at your hotel.
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