Visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda : More than Just History
No visit to Myanmar is complete without a visit to the over 2,500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda, which enshrines strands of Buddha's hair and other holy relics. Located west of the Kandawgyi Lake on 114-acre Singuttara Hill in Yangon, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred and impressive Buddhist site for the people of Myanmar.
The history alone might be enough to lure you to the gorgeous pagoda. It surely has a rich and vivid, exciting history, and would be fascinating to see on that basis. But if you require more reasons to visit, you may be interested in the treasures.
From a humble beginning of 8.2 meters, the Shwedagon Pagoda today stands close to 110 meters. The relics are enclosed within, to be sure, and those relics are sacred riches themselves. In addition to that, just the stupa alone of the pagoda is covered with 8,688 solid gold blocks. The top of the stupa holds 5,448 diamonds and a combination of 2,317 sapphires, rubies and topaz. There is an emerald placed in the middle. It is there to capture the sun’s rays, and does that best at sunrise and sunset. Below the golden stupa are 7 more gold blocks, which are attached to 1,485 bells. Of those bells, 420 are made of pure silver, and 1,065 are made out of gold. Being one of the wonders of the religious world, Shwedagon Pagoda is a repository of the best in Myanmar heritage – architecture, sculpture and arts.
The 10 Parts of Shwedagon Pagoda are; the Diamond Bud, the Vane, the Crown, the Plantain Bud-Shaped Bulbous Spire, the Ornamental Lotus Flower, the Embossed Bands, the Inverted Bowl, the Bell, the 3 Terraces, and the Base.
Shwedagon Pagoda forms the focus of religious as well as community activities – the bustling of devotees and monks washing the statues, offering flowers, worshiping, and meditating.
Sightseeing at the Shwedagon Pagoda
The best times to view the Shwedagon are at sunrise or at sunset owning to the large, reflective emerald that sits in the center of the golden stupa catches the changing light and reflects it out beautifully. The Shwedagon Pagoda is open every day from 4 AM to 9 PM. It is important to note that, though the Shwedagon opens at 4 AM, tickets for entrance are not sold to foreign visitors until 6 AM.
There are a few options one can take for entering the Shwedagon. Some choose to walk up the stairways, which are at the north, south, east and west points of the building. If one chooses not to walk up, there are elevators that take you straight to the pagoda itself, and to the area where tickets are sold to foreign visitors.
That is just a sampling of all the beauty and grandeur that awaits when you choose to visit this sacred and special place. If you are traveling to Myanmar, there are so many reasons to see this holy place, to let it amaze you, and to pay your honors to it.