May 10, 2013

Myanmar : Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

After my trips to Bangkok and Sri Lanka, I was actually kinda sick of visiting temples. But upon landing in Yangon, I was looking forward to visit its most iconic landmark, the Shwedagon Pagoda. Gracing numerous covers of travel books and captured on postcards, the glittering gold stupa just screams "Come visit me!". 

as seen from Kandawgyi Lake

Standing on a platform on a hill 58m above sea level, the Pagoda can be seen from many parts of the city. Legend has it that the Pagoda is more than 2500 years old, but archaeologists estimate it was first built between the 6th and 10th centuries. The current structure we see was built in 1769 after the previous one was destroyed by an earthquake. The pagoda is also said to be the most sacred in Yangon as it housed relics from four different Buddhas.

The Pagoda is best viewed early in the morning and late in the afternoon just before sunset. I couldn't spend all day there so I chose to go around 4pm so that I got day and night view of the Pagoda. I found out later that you can actually re-enter the Pagoda if you keep the sticker and the ticket. So yeah.. you can visit it in the morning, then go sightseeing the rest of Yangon before returning in the evening.

There are four main entrances (East, West, North and South) to the platform. I'm not sure from which entrance I came but it has an elevator. Upon paying the entrance fee, I had to remove my shoes and left it at the shoe rack before taking the elevator going up to the Pagoda. Should've climbed up the stairs as there's intricate art work and wood work on the path and sides of the massive stairs leading up to the Pagoda.

The large platform contains a variety of other stupas, prayer halls, sculptures and shrines...

but the center of attention is definitely the huge main stupa.

From what I read, the stupa is plated with solid gold bars, and its top is studded with diamonds totalling over 2,000 carats. Wahh... super lavish ok. 

Circling the stupa, I couldn't take my eyes off it, really. And couldn't stop clicking my camera. Hehe... Although the platform was crowded as I suspected other visitors were also waiting for sunset, I still find it peaceful. I sat at one corner quite a while, admiring the opulent stupa and just watching the hundreds of people go by.

As it was getting darker, the stupa slowly began to change its color.

It was amazing seeing the stupa turning into a yellow beacon when the place is lit up. It is really beautiful.

as seen from Sakura Tower

Shwedagon Pagoda is open daily.
Visiting hours : 4 am to 10 pm
Entrance fee: 4500 kyats or USD 5
Direction: It is located between People's Park and Kandawgyi

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