Visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda and Stupa (Shwedagon Zedi Dawin) at Yangon.
Situated atop Singuttara Hill and dominating the Yangon skyline, visiting the 325 foot high Shwedagon Pagoda is probably the main reason that tourists stop off for a few days in the City. Shwedagon is of immense importance to Buddhists as it holds relics from four ancient Buddha's - Kakusandha's staff, Koṇagamana's water filter, a fragment of Kassapa's robe and eight strands of Gautama's hair.
The Pagoda and Stupa are open daily between 0600 and 2100 for foreigners - who are also required to pay USD8 entrance fee. (Note the sign at the ticket booth states tickets are valid per visit and not 24 hours, however it does seem that you can use the ticket again on the same day??). There are four entrances each of which involves climbing numerous steps however there are elevators at
the northern, eastern and southern gates - the western gate has an escalator. At each entrance all shoes and socks must be removed before commencing the climb up - it's worth taking a bag with you to put them in. Appropriate clothing needs to be worn i.e. no skimpy tops or short shorts are permitted. Remember also to have some cold bottled water with you as the top gets exceedingly hot and
looking round takes quite a while.
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Rather than being carried up on the elevators, walking going up the steps is definitely worth while - fortunately all the stairways are covered from the sun. Things are interesting right from the start - the entrances are beautiful with their shaped roofs and huge statues of chinthes (half lion half griffin) or giant man-eating
monsters (ogres) which guard each entrance. The stepped stairways - which are called "zaung dan" have carved and gold painted pillars and the inner roofs of the stairways are also heavily carved - there are also lots of religious paintings on the walls. On all but the western entrance there are many gift shops and stalls selling all sorts of religious paraphernalia - there are even tea-houses in various
The Ticket Offices are situated up on the main platform i.e. at the top of the stairs. The complex should be walked clockwise as is the Buddhist custom however beware of the surfaces because it is of marble and gets very hot in the sun.
Sein Ma Pu Pray Hall
gold Buddha images
Shwedagon Pagoda chariot
The centre piece is the huge gold covered Stupa - the base section is made from 8688 solid gold bars and the upper part of the Stupa is made from 13353 gold
bars. Much of the gold was initially and still is (for repairs) donated from various countries bordering Myanmar. The stupa rises 325 feet and has a circumference of 1421 feet and as with Burmese tradition each section has a symbolic meaning. The octagonal plynth has eight small stupas on each side (i.e. 64 stupas) and the cardinal points opposite the entrance stairways are faced with four Temples (in honour of
Buddha's Kakusandha, Koagamana, Kassapa and Gautama). At each corner of the platform are sphynx (manokthiha) as well as more chinthes.
Maha Gandha Bell
Pagoda reclining Buddha
Shwedagon Pagoda drum
Sacred Hair Relic
Pagoda of Eight Weekdays
Above the stepped terrace (which only monks can go onto) there is a turban band which separates the terrace from the Bell - the Bell represents an inverted Alms Bowl. Above the Bowl there are 16 lotus petals upon which sits the conical gold spire consisting of a banana bud on which sits the 33 feet high Hti (umbrella). The Hti is decorated with 1485 gold and silver bells, 5448 diamonds and 2317 rubies,
sapphires and other precious stones. A huge emerald sits in the centre of it all which is positioned to catch the first and last rays of the Sun and at the very top there is a golden orb which is tipped with a 72 carat diamond.
Around the sides of the Stupa as well as the four Buddhist Temples there are eight planetary posts which represent the eight days of the week and are used in
relation to which day people were born. (a Wednesday is two days in Buddhist belief).
The main stupa is surrounded by numerous small chedi, more temples, shrines, small pagodas and beautifully roofed pavilions and halls. Add in the 100s of Buddha statues as well as some huge mythical animal statues throughout and the entire area really does make a magnificent site.
Chanthagyi Buddha image
Buddha image Shinmahtees
Our other items about touring and sightseeing at Yangon in Myanmar:
- Yangon Myanmar Travel and Touring Guides
- Visiting Yangon - Yangon airport, taxis, climate, getting around in the City, taxis and buses, hotels, eating out, where to stay.
- Looking round Sule Pagoda in Downtown Yangon
- Sule Pagoda in Myanmar - sightseeing round the old golden Buddhist Sule Pagoda and Chedi in Central Yangon - photos.
- Visiting the Botataung Pagoda near Downtown Yangon in Myanmar
- Looking round the hollow Botataung Pagoda - a beautiful and important Buddhist Temple in Yangon
- Sightseeing and Photos from around Yangon in Myanmar
- Central Yangon sightseeing guide and photos, looking at old colonial buildings, Yangon River, Mosques, Temples and Gardens.
- Myanmar travel, touring and sightseeing guides and photos
- Our above Home Page shows all of our items about Myanmar covering Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.
Other destinations in the Far East which are reasonably easy to reach from Myanmar and for which we have travel and touring guides are Cambodia, Laos, China, Thailand and Vietnam - please see our above Home Page for these or visit our Resources Page