Shwedagon Pagoda (officially called Shwedagon Zedi Daw) is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present kalpa.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
Rising 100 yards above the city of Rangoon, Myanmar’s Shwedagon Pagoda is, according to many travelers, one of the world’s great wonders. The pagoda is famed for holding the relics of four Buddhas and savvy visitors should visit at night to enjoy the chants of the faithful, the wafting incense, and the great golden stupas shining in the spotlights. (Photo by Gerard Decq)
Watch: Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar
While much of the pagoda’s beauty comes from its shape and surrounding structures, equally mesmerizing is its golden glow. And although its primarily gold, several other precious metals/stones have been used in its construction.
The lower stupa is plated with 8,688 solid gold bars, an upper part with another 13,153. The tip of the stupa, far too high for the human eye to discern in any detail, is set with 5448 diamonds, 2317 rubies, sapphires, and other gems, 1065 golden bells and, at the very top, a single 76-carat diamond. (source: Wikipedia)
Like most other sacred places, even this pagoda is surrounded by several smaller shrines housing pre-Buddhist spirits called Nats, miracle working images, and even a wish granting stone.
As you can probably imagine, the entire temple complex radiates a sense of beauty and serenity.
Some time back, Vietnam Airlines had to recall its in-flight magazines as the cover of the publication had a model wearing Ao Dai (Vietnamese national costume commonly worn by women) that had Myanmar’s renowned Shwedagon Pagoda printed on the traditional dress (drew the ire of several Myanmarese).
Controversial cover on Vietnam Airlines Heritage Fashion Magazine
Over the years a few more replicas of the Shwedagon Pagoda have been constructed. Here are the more significant ones:
- Uppatasanti Pagoda in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Its similar in many aspects to Shwedagon Pagoda
- Another replica of Shwedagon Pagoda was constructed at Lumbini Natural Park in Berastagi, North Sumatra, Indonesia.
- Then there’s the Global Vipassana Pagoda located in Mumbai, India