Top 5 Pagodas To Explore In Yangon, Myanmar
Myanmar is a beautiful gem of the Southeast Asian region, and exploring the most striking religious sites is a must experience for any travelers to this country. You will catch some of the most amazing pagodas in the former capital Yangon.
No visit to Myanmar can be complete without a trip to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most striking and famous religious site of the city. The pagoda is around 2,600 years old, claiming the title of one of the oldest pagodas in the world. The sacred pagoda contains the relics of four Buddhas, thus its position as the center of the country’s Buddhist belief.
Despite that thousands of years have passed, the structure remains as breathtaking as ever with its golden spire, the top is decorated with diamonds and rubies. Surrounding the central stupa (or zedi in Burmese), which rises approximately 325 feet above the terrace, are 64 smaller stupas and 4 cardinal corner ones, each of which is built with incredible details, reflecting the history of its era.
It can take several hours to explore just the outside ground, as visitors are usually enchanted with its glamour and forget about time. If you want to watch the pagoda cast in glorious golden light, come around the time of sunrise or sunset. Just keep in mind these are also the busiest times, meaning there will be lots of people swamp to Shwedagon. For a more special experience, visit during Buddhist holidays such as Thingyan – Burmese New Year Festival (usually in mid-April), Thadingyut – Lightning Festival (end of September/beginning of October) and Tazaungdaing – Festival of Lights (end of October/beginning of November) and watch the exciting events taking over the streets of Yangon and all over Myanmar.
On your list of the must-visits in Yangon, don’t miss out on this important landmark. It is the central traffic circle of the old capital, or as we like to call it – the ‘Arc de Triumph’ of Yangon.
It is believed that the beautiful Sule pagoda had been there even before the prominent Shwedagon Pagoda was built. The central zedi’s name is Kyaik Athok, meaning ‘the stupa where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrined’ in the Mon language. Also, the zedi’s unusual octagonal shape continues right up to the bell and the inverted bowl is another thing that catches our eyes.
After you’ve done exploring the sacred pagoda, spend some time wandering its neighborhood, you may find interesting items in the small shops and watch the daily activities of the locals.
Chauk That Gyi Pagoda is located just a short distance northeast of the striking Shwedagon. This pagoda is renowned for its enormous reclining Buddha, 65m long and 16m high, one of the largest in the country. On the giant Buddha’s feet are the 108 sacred Buddhist symbols, painted in red and gold colors.
The small shrines around the gigantic statue are devoted to Buddhas of each day of the week. According to the Eastern astrology, there are 8 days in a week, since Wednesday counted as two. Visitors will first pay homage to the main Buddha, with an offering of flowers and candles, and then worship at the shrine of the Buddha of their birthdate.
Just across Chauk That Gyi Pagoda is Ngar Htat Gyi Pagoda, home to an equally imposing seated Buddha statue in a golden robe. The image is nearly 14m high and is also called the “five-story Buddha”. So visit both pagodas when you are in this part of Yangon.
- Baungdawgyoke Pagoda
Baungdawgyoke Pagoda, or the Snake Temple, is a less familiar name with travelers to Myanmar, but nonetheless very interesting. The only warning though – if you have ophidiophobia, maybe skipping this pagoda is a better idea!
This place is home to about 50 massive Burmese pythons (well, you have already got the idea from the pagoda’s name), and they can be hiding everywhere! In case you think you are brave enough, visit the site for a unique experience in Yangon.
Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, or sometimes called the Golden Rock Pagoda, is a destination off-the-beaten-path for many visitors due to its location – a few hours from Yangon. But for Burmese, this is the second most important religious site. According to legend, the giant Golden Rock is supported by a stand of the Buddha’s hair, and that is probably the only explanation for a rock that size can perch on the hill’s edge, seeming to defy the gravity.
On top of Mount Kyaiktiyo, the sacred pagoda is visited by thousands of Burmese visitors, throughout the whole year. It is definitely worth all the traveling once you’re here and can see the worship and excitement on the local’s faces, who, with their family, may have come from far away to offer their prayers and offerings to Buddha.
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