Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar
The picture perfect and postcard worthy Shwedagon Pagoda is exactly that. It is featured as the main attraction in Yangon, and oftentimes, Myanmar itself. Shwedagon Pagoda is no doubt the most beautiful temple, but also the most beautiful religious building I have had the opportunity of experiencing.
Walking around the golden Stupa itself, to the extensive grounds and the locals who visit for meditation, you could honestly spend hours here. There are so many sites to take in and numerous buildings to explore.
The History of Shwedgaon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda is known as the oldest Buddhist Stupa, having been built 2600 years ago. Though, this is according to legend and Historians and Archaeologists like to maintain it was built between the 6th and 10th Centuries AD.
In this legend two brothers, Taphussa and Bhallika, meet the Lord Gautama Buddha and receive eight of Buddha’s hairs. These brothers then return back to Burma and make their way to Singuttara Hill with the help of King Okkalapa. At this hill is where other Buddha’s had been enshrined. The King presents the hairs in the casket and they go about enshrining it by creating a relic chamber. On top of the chamber is where the golden pagoda is erected. Within the pagoda was more pagodas, each made of, silver, gold, copper alloy, bronze, iron, marble and brick.
Throughout the years the Stupa has been raised by the leaders until the height that it stands today of 99 meters. Gold plates cover the base and the umbrella crown is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. At the very top is a diamond bud tipped with a 76 carat diamond.
Looking at photos you may think that the gold is just painted on, though it is actually made from genuine gold plates. Locals in Myanmar will donate gold to maintain the pagoda. I actually took a taxi ride in Yangon with a businessman who regularly donates gold. The practice of dontating the gold started in 15th Century when Queen Shin Sawbu gave her weight in the gold plates.
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Ticket Cost of Visiting Shwedagon Pagoda
The entry fee to visit Shwedagon Pagoda is $8.00.
Though, I didn’t know about the fee on my visit, and walked right in without paying. It was only later, while talking to other travelers back at my hostel, that I learned about the fee. They were surprised that no one had waved me down, or noticed that I didn’t have a sticker. Please don’t do as I did, just pay for your ticket as you never know the implications of your actions in a foreign country.
Shwedagon Pagoda Opening Hours
The opening hours for Shwedagon Pagoda are 4.00am to 10.00pm Monday to Sunday.
The last admission is at 9.45pm daily.
On the Waxing Day of Tabaung (around March) and the Waxing Day Wakhaung (around June) Shwedagon Pagoda is open 24 hours.
How To Get To Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda is located in Downtown Yangon and is easy to access via walking or public transport.
Taxis and rickshaws are cheap in Yangon providing an affordable mode of transport. There is also the local buses, though unless you know Burmese these can be quite confusing.
What To Wear To Shwedagon Pagoda
As with visiting any temple in Asia it is expected that you dress conservatively to respect the culture and those visiting the religious site. It is important that you do dress modestly otherwise you will not be allowed to enter, plus you do not want to offend the locals.
On the lower half wear trousers or at the bare minimum shorts or a skirts that falls below the knee. On the upper half at least have your shoulders covered, though it is expected that you have elbow length sleeves.
Lastly, as standard practice please remove your shoes before entering Shwedagon Pagoda.
What To Expect When Visiting
As Shwedagon Pagoda is a temple expect a lot of Burmese people and people of the Buddhist faith to be praying to Buddha. So please remember even though it may be a tourist attraction for certain people, it is not for the locals and you should respect this.
Within Shwedagon Pagoda itself is absolutely stunning with the shinning gold colors contrasting against the crisp white highlights. In all honesty Myanmar is not the cleanest country, and that’s no secret. Though, within the grounds could not have been cleaner. Never in South East Asia did I see somewhere cleaner than Shwedagon Pagoda.
To my surprise Shwedagon Pagoda is a whole lot more than just the golden Stupa itself, even though photos in the media like to focus on this Stupa. The grounds of Shwedagon Pagoda are filled of Buddhas and religious buildings of the most amazing colors. They line the courtyard with the actual pagoda directly in the middle.
My Experience When Visiting Shwedagon Pagoda
Visiting Shwedagon Pagoda was no doubt one of the most amazing experiences I had in Yangon. I visited by myself and honestly spent hours wandering around in complete awe of the amazing architecture, watching the locals go about their religious ceremony and taking way too many photos.
I managed to walk to Shwedagon Pagoda from where I was staying at Backpackers Bed & Breakfast. It was a super easy walk, though I did have a couple issues crossing the road, but following the locals seemed to make it a lot easier. The land was relatively flat except all the stairs at the entrance of Shwedagon Pagoda.
As I previously said, I did not actually pay to visit Shwedagon Pagoda. I think this may have been because I was a solo traveler who just strolled with confidence straight past the ticket desk and they did not want to say anything. In all honestly I do not know why they did not stop me, but I was too busy ogling the beautiful golden Stupa in front of me to notice the ticket desk.
Overall, I loved my visit to Shwedagon Pagoda and it was the perfect way to begin my adventures in Myanmar. It gave me some insight into the Buddhist religion and how important it is to the Burmese people.
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