yangon: shwedagon paya

Friday, February 27:  This morning I get up before dawn; I’ve arranged to take a taxi to see the famous Shwedagon Pagoda at sunrise.  When I arrive, it’s already quite busy despite still being dark.

Shwedagon Pagoda before sunrise

Shwedagon Pagoda before sunrise

Even before sunrise, people are in the various shrines praying.

a shrine at Shwedagon Pagoda

a shrine at Shwedagon Pagoda

Around the base of the stupa, 12 planetary posts conform to the days of the week; locals pray at the station corresponding to the day they were born.  Wednesday is divided into births in the morning and births in the afternoon.

Friday corner

Wednesday morning corner

Wednesday afternoon (Rahu corner)

Wednesday afternoon (Rahu corner)

According to Sacred Destinations, legend has it that the Shwedagon Pagoda is 2,500 years old, but archaeologists estimate it was first built by the Mon sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries (i.e. during the Bagan period).

reclining Buddha

reclining Buddha

shrine at Shwedagon

shrine at Shwedagon

close up of the shrine

close up of the shrine

Buddhas

Buddhas

Buddha's hand

Buddha’s hand

The Shwedagon is referred to in Myanmar as “The crown of Burma.”  As Myanmar’s most revered shrine it is customary for families, mendicants and followers of the Buddha to make the pilgrimage to the Shwedagon in much the same way that Muslims feel compelled to visit the Kaaba at Mecca at least once in their lifetime (The Shwedagon Pagoda).

umbrellas atop Shwedagon Pagoda

umbrellas atop Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds; the largest of which is a 72 carat diamond (Shwedagon Pagoda).  The pagoda is said to contain eight hairs of the Buddha along with other relics (The Schwedagon Pagoda).

Many monks and pilgrims are out this morning walking around the pagoda.

a monk walks clockwise around the pagoda

a monk walks clockwise around the pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

at Shwedagon Pagoda

at Shwedagon Pagoda

The Friday corner seems to be quite busy.

pilgrims

pilgrims

the Friday corner

the Friday corner

Every corner has a unique spot to be discovered.

I love the mirrored mosaics that seem to be a part of every temple in Myanmar.

mirror mosaics

mirror mosaics

Another Buddha

Another Buddha

purple halo

purple halo

Buddha

Buddha

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

monk in prayer

monk in prayer

another shrine

another shrine

golden Buddhas

golden Buddhas

mirror mosaics

mirror mosaics

large bell

large bell

mosaics

mosaics

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

monks

monks

I make a brief stop at the Htidaw Sacred Umbrella Pagoda.

I like the painted pagoda with scenes from Myanmar.

There are numerous shrines where devotees can stop to pay tribute to the Buddha.

more Buddhas

more Buddhas

monk at Shwedagon Pagoda

monk at Shwedagon Pagoda

According to Sacred Destinations, the main stupa is supported on a square plinth that stands 6.4m (20 feet) above the platform, setting it apart from the other stupas. On this raised platform are smaller stupas: large ones mark the four cardinal directions, medium ones mark the four corners, and 60 small ones run around the perimeter (Sacred Destinations: Shwedagon Pagoda (Yangon)).

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Because I was born on a Tuesday, I have a particular interest in the Tuesday corner.

Tuesday corner

Tuesday corner

Tuesday corner

Tuesday corner

Tuesday corner

Tuesday corner

It seems many people walk clockwise around the pagoda; I’m confused by those who walk counterclockwise.  I’m not sure of the significance.

pilgrims at Shwedagon Pagoda

pilgrims at Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda is the focus of religious as well as community activities – devotees bustle about and monks wash the statues, offer flowers, worship, and meditate.

pilgrims at Shwedagon Pagoda

pilgrims at Shwedagon Pagoda

pilgrims at Shwedagon Pagoda

pilgrims at Shwedagon Pagoda

After spending nearly two hours exploring all the nooks and crannies of this sprawling pagoda, I head back to the Agga Youth Hotel for some breakfast.

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Categories: Asia, Myanmar, Shwedagon Paya, Travel, Yangon | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “yangon: shwedagon paya

  1. Wow! Totally switching gears today! One minute I am in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland and the next minute I am strolling among the Buddhas in Yangon in Myanmar! My head is spinning! Hard to take it all in as by now, my heart is truly in places North!

    Great photos as always, and I truly admire your stamina to be able to keep posting long after these trips are over in the case of Myanmar.

    • Yes, I’m trying like crazy to finish up that Myanmar blog. It’s taken me so long!! Yes, my heart is in places north too — I’m longing for cool weather. I think that job in Timor-Leste wouldn’t have been for me with that heat and humidity that they surely have! 🙂

  2. I can’t imagine what it must be like to see this in real life, Cathy! It’s staggeringly beautiful and you’ve done a great job with the photos. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Jo. This pagoda is the largest and most important one in Yangon and it was HUGE! I could have spent a whole day here and still not seen everything.

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