Shwedagon Pagoda, dated from about 600 BC, is the highlight and a must stop if you are visiting Yangon. The history says that in Maha Sakarit 103 ( about 600 BC), Gautama Buddha attained Enlightenment and while He Journeyed in seven directions, two merchants, Taphusa and Ballika offered Him alms-food. Having obtained eight strands of hair from Him as a blessing, they returned to Okkalapa land where they were welcomed back by the multitudes led by King Okkalapa.
King Okkalapa and his subjects enshrined Buddha’s hair together with the relics of three Buddhas before Him…the staff of Kakusandha Buddha, the water filter of Konagamana Buddha and netherrobe of Kassapa Buddha in a cell of 66 feet high which they consecrated as the Shwedagon.
Because it contained the relics of the four Buddhas who had attained Enlightenment, it was known as Shwedagon, the Reliquary of the Four. From about 600 BC to 14 century, the Shwedagon was maintained by 32 kings of the Okkalapa dynasty and since 1372 AD by the Kings Banya U, Banyayan Banyagyandow and others.
In 1453 AD, when Queen Shin Saw Pu ascended the throne, she had it raised to a height of 302 feet and in 1774, King Hsinbyushin had it rebuilt to a height of 326 feet (99,36 m).
If you expect to see only one pagoda, you would be wrong. In total, there are 4 pagodas: the Shwedagon Pagoda, the Naung Daw Pagoda, the Htaw Pagoda and the Replica if Shwedagon Pagoda in gold.
The Shwedagon Pagoda is the number one to do in Yangon. There are many other place to visit, but this should be your first stop while visiting Yangon.
The first thing we will hear is not Mingalabar, which is the usual way of greeting in burmese language. But Donation. This country was probably build on donations and a NGO here will get instantly rich. The donation was at the shoe keeper desk and 200 kyats was mine. As you might know, you must take of your shoes and your socks before entering a pagoda or any indoor place in Myanmar. It’s not a bad thing since Yangon is not such a clean place.
The second thing that strikes you before entering the Shwedagon Pagoda is the escalators. You don’t expect to see them but you will be glad! Probably some american tourists complained about some loose of the weight and the local authorities had to do something about this issue.
After the escalator trip ends, we are warmly welcomed to pay the entrance fee of 10,000, available only for foreigners. I never understood this concept of entry fee only for only one side, the “richer” one. If you don’t have cash, don’t worry, there is an ATM just at the entry of the pagoda. And there are plenty of the around the pagodas plateau.
The place lacked on thing, from my point of view: spirituality. I was expected to see a lot of monks, people praying. Instead I saw only a lot of people just strolling ( anti-clockwise is the normal direction), taking selfies with their phone or just chatting of Facebook with friends. Of course, I have seen monks, people praying but for the most important spiritual place in whole Myanmar, I expected a whole different image. Maybe I was at the wrong time. I will promise to go one more time and maybe for this round, I will have a different opinion.
How to get to Shwedagon Pagoda: the easiest and the fastest way is by taxi. A taxi from downtown to the pagoda should not exceed 2000 Kyat ( 3$), per way.
Entrance Fee at Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon – 10,000 kyats ( 8$) for foreigners
Opening Hours: 4am till 21.00pm each day including public holidays.
Height – 43 feet ( 13 meters)
Broadest Diameter – 15 ft 6 ins ( 5 meters)
Weight of Gold 1/2 tons ( 500 kilos)
Variety of Jewellery – 83.850 itimes
Small Gold bells – 4016
Total Weight – 5 tons ( 5,000 kilos)
Facts about ShweDagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar:
Location: On Sanguturu Hill in Dagon Township, Yangon Division Myanmar
Height of the Hill – 190 feet above the sea level
Height of the Shwedagon Pagoda – 326 feet ( about 100 meters)
Area of the Pagoda – 114 acres (46 hectares)
Area of the terrace – 14 acres (6 hectares).
Information source: Board of Trusted Shwedagon Pagoda.