Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon Myanmar January 2016

Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon Myanmar January 2016

According to Lonely Planet, Shwedagon Pagoda (ရွှေတိဂုံစေတီတော်) in Yangon Myanmar is one of Buddhism's most sacred sites. The 325ft zedi here is adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf, along with thousands of diamonds and other gems, and is believed to enshrine eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former buddhas. Legend has it that there's been a stupa on Singuttara Hill for 2600 years, ever since two merchant brothers, Tapussa and Ballika, met the Buddha. He gave them eight of his hairs to take back to Myanmar, a land ruled over by King Okkalapa. Okkalapa enshrined the hairs in a temple of gold, together with relics of three former buddhas, which was then enclosed in a temple of silver, then one of tin, then copper, then lead, then marble and, finally, one of plain iron-brick. Archaeologists suggest that the original stupa was built by the Mon people some time between the 6th and 10th centuries. In common with many other ancient zedi in earthquake-prone Myanmar, it has been rebuilt many times. During the Bagan (Pagan) period of Myanmar’s history (10th to 14th centuries), the story of the stupa emerged from the mists of legend to become hard fact. Near the top of the eastern stairway is a brick inscribed with the date 1485.  
 
Four entrance stairways lead to the main terrace. Visit in the cool of dawn if you want tranquility. Otherwise, pay your respects when the golden stupa flames crimson and burnt orange in the setting sun. The hill on which the stupa stands is 167ft above sea level with the entire complex covering 46 hectares. The main terrace is approached by four zaungdan (covered walkways) each of which is flanked at its entrance by a pair of 9m-tall chinthe. At the centre of the terrace Shwedagon Paya sits on a square plinth, which stands 21ft above the clutter of the main platform and immediately sets the stupa above the lesser structures. Smaller stupas sit on this raised platform level – four large ones mark the four cardinal directions, four medium-sized ones mark the four corners of the plinth and 60 small ones run around the perimeter.  
 
From this base, the zedi rises first in three terraces, then in ‘octagonal’ terraces and then in five circular bands. The shoulder of the bell is decorated with 16 ‘flowers’. The bell is topped by the ‘inverted bowl’, another traditional element of stupa architecture, and above this stand the mouldings, then the ‘lotus petals’. These consist of a band of down-turned petals, followed by a band of up-turned petals. The banana bud is the final element of the zedi before the jewel-encrusted hti tops it. Around the stupa's base 12 planetary posts conform to the days of the week; locals pray at the station that represents the day they were born. If you want to join them, and don't know the day of your birth, the fortune tellers at the temple have almanacs that will provide the answer. Note that Wednesday is divided into births in the morning and births in afternoon – for the latter you worship at the Rahu post at the northwest corner of the stupa base. Before leaving the main terrace pop into the small museum which is chock full of buddha statues and religious ornaments. Look for the scale model of the stupa and the beautiful painting of the temple by MT Hla. The photo gallery is also well worth a look, particularly for the close-up snaps it displays of the top of the stupa.

According to Lonely Planet, Shwedagon Pagoda (ရွှေတိဂုံစေတီတော်) in Yangon Myanmar is one of Buddhism's most sacred sites. The 325ft zedi here is adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf, along with thousands of diamonds and other gems, and is believed to enshrine eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former buddhas. Legend has it that there's been a stupa on Singuttara Hill for 2600 years, ever since two merchant brothers, Tapussa and Ballika, met the Buddha. He gave them eight of his hairs to take back to Myanmar, a land ruled over by King Okkalapa. Okkalapa enshrined the hairs in a temple of gold, together with relics of three former buddhas, which was then enclosed in a temple of silver, then one of tin, then copper, then lead, then marble and, finally, one of plain iron-brick. Archaeologists suggest that the original stupa was built by the Mon people some time between the 6th and 10th centuries. In common with many other ancient zedi in earthquake-prone Myanmar, it has been rebuilt many times. During the Bagan (Pagan) period of Myanmar’s history (10th to 14th centuries), the story of the stupa emerged from the mists of legend to become hard fact. Near the top of the eastern stairway is a brick inscribed with the date 1485.  
 
Four entrance stairways lead to the main terrace. Visit in the cool of dawn if you want tranquility. Otherwise, pay your respects when the golden stupa flames crimson and burnt orange in the setting sun. The hill on which the stupa stands is 167ft above sea level with the entire complex covering 46 hectares. The main terrace is approached by four zaungdan (covered walkways) each of which is flanked at its entrance by a pair of 9m-tall chinthe. At the centre of the terrace Shwedagon Paya sits on a square plinth, which stands 21ft above the clutter of the main platform and immediately sets the stupa above the lesser structures. Smaller stupas sit on this raised platform level – four large ones mark the four cardinal directions, four medium-sized ones mark the four corners of the plinth and 60 small ones run around the perimeter.  
 
From this base, the zedi rises first in three terraces, then in ‘octagonal’ terraces and then in five circular bands. The shoulder of the bell is decorated with 16 ‘flowers’. The bell is topped by the ‘inverted bowl’, another traditional element of stupa architecture, and above this stand the mouldings, then the ‘lotus petals’. These consist of a band of down-turned petals, followed by a band of up-turned petals. The banana bud is the final element of the zedi before the jewel-encrusted hti tops it. Around the stupa's base 12 planetary posts conform to the days of the week; locals pray at the station that represents the day they were born. If you want to join them, and don't know the day of your birth, the fortune tellers at the temple have almanacs that will provide the answer. Note that Wednesday is divided into births in the morning and births in afternoon – for the latter you worship at the Rahu post at the northwest corner of the stupa base. Before leaving the main terrace pop into the small museum which is chock full of buddha statues and religious ornaments. Look for the scale model of the stupa and the beautiful painting of the temple by MT Hla. The photo gallery is also well worth a look, particularly for the close-up snaps it displays of the top of the stupa.