2,500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda/Paya is one of the best sites for tourists visiting to the Union of Myanmar. It enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair as well as other holy relics it. It is one of the most sacred sites and is located west of the Royal Lake on Singuttara Hill in Yangon. Shwedagon Pagoda is a repository of the best in Myanmar heritage – architecture, sculpture, and arts.
It is believed that there’s been a stupa on Singuttara Hill for 2600 years. Two merchant brothers, Tapussa and Ballika, met the Buddha. He gave them eight of his hairs to take back to Myanmar.Myanmar’s king, Okkalapa enshrined the hairs in a temple of gold, together with relics of three former Buddhas. Contrary, archaeologists suggest that the original stupa was built by the Mon people around 6th and 10th centuries. The process of rebuilding and improvising the stupa continued then on.
Queen Shinsawbu has done many improvements to the stupa. She provided gold of her weight to be beaten into gold leaf and used to cover the structure. Her son-in-law, Dhammazedi, went several better. He unbelievingly offered four times his own weight and that of his wife in gold.
In 1612, Portuguese renegade adventurer Filipe de Brito e Nicote raided the stupa. He carried away Dhammazedi’s 300-ton bell with the intention of melting it for cannons. During the 17th century, the monument suffered earthquake damage on eight occasions. Unfortunately, in 1768, an earthquake brought down the whole top of the zedi. King Hsinbyushin had it rebuilt it completely and this is the present version of the stupa. Even after that, there were several improvements done to temple.
The stupa stands on a hill which is 167ft above sea level and covers an area of 114 acres. The main terrace is approached by four zaungdan which means covered walkways. It is common with temples in Myanmar. There are sets of escalators and elevators at the four zaungdan for those not willing to go through stairs. There are real and paper made flowers, Buddha images, ceremonial umbrellas, books, antiques, incense sticks and much more. The stupa also has fortune tellers and money-exchange booths. There is also a small museum chock full of Buddha statues and religious ornaments. The photo gallery is also worthy to look for people visiting there.
The main terrace is marble-floored. It is littered with pavilions and worship halls containing Buddha images as well as two giant cast-iron bells. Shwedagon Paya is on the center of the terrace on a square plinth. It stands 21ft above the clutter of the main platform and stands tallest among all. Smaller stupas sit on this raised platform level. Shwedagon Pagoda is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds.
Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred as well as impressive Buddhist site and, is truly a religious wonder. It gains focus of religious as well as community activities. There are devotees as well as monks washing the statues, offering flowers, worshiping, and meditating. Shwedagon Pagoda is completely administered by the Board of Trustees of Shwedagon Pagoda. Its official website https://www.shwedagonpagoda.com/ has regular updates and events of the place. The stupa’s entry fee is $8 and requires people to dress conservatively while entering stupa.