Shwedagon Pagoda – inside a world of Gold

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Shwedagon Pagoda – inside a world of Gold

I landed in Yangon Airport in a sunny evening. It was about 4:00 PM. I had to catch a bus to Bagan at 8:00 PM from the Aung Mingalar bus station. So, I had technically little over 3 hours to see something. From the airport, I tried to validate my idea of going to see the Shwedagon pagoda and catch the bus afterwards. They just simply told me that I was going to miss the bus if I do so. They suggested me to go to some alternate pagodas nearby. But, I was ready to take a risk to see this gem, and I am glad I did it!

From the airport, I rented a taxi which will stay for the whole time with me. It will take me to the pagoda, stay there and take me to my bus in the bus station. I could not negotiate much as I was on a hurry, we settled the deal at 28000 Kyats(around US$ 23).

We started our journey to the pagoda which is about 14 Kilometre from the airport. On a busy day the traffic can slow things down, fortunately, it was on Saturday and the road was not that busy.

I reached to the pagoda after about 40 minutes, the entrance was guarded by a pair of golden Chinthe(lion like creature).

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Everything here is gold or golden! Having taken permission from the lion guard, I entered in to this kingdom, needless to say, through a gigantic golden gate. There are four such gates to enter into the pagoda.

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The pagoda is on top of Singuttara Hill, so my ascent started right after I entered through the gate. Fortunately, the technology aided me to achieve the goal. There was escalator for the part of the path besides stair, I took help of it. Just before entering in to the main complex, I needed to buy a ticket and they gave me a colourful sticker.

I was perplexed when I entered into the complex, it was round having temples in one side. In the center, there was the huge stupa.

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I started to circle the big stupa. There was a lot of people mostly locals inside the compound. People were praying and bowing on the floor constantly. Everyone was bare footed. The worshippers pour water on the statues. So, the ground was continuously soaked into water. There was a green mat, too, if you want to avoid the water on the floor.

I was lucky to have a clear sky with sun, the stupa was glittering with gold. I tried to find out how much gold does it have. I did not get any particular answer but it is said to have about 30 metric tons of gold leafs. The stupa is gilded with continuous supply of gold after a specific period of time. The authority does it whenever it accumulates a significant amount of donation. There was not only gold but also diamonds and gems on the top of it – thousands of them.

The whole structure is about 90 meter high. The legend says that, it is there for 2600 years and evolved over course of time. It is believed that, the Buddha gave eight of his hairs to take to the Myanmar and it was kept there. Besides, there was three more important relics are believed to be here.

There were many small temples and statues of Buddha there in different type of orientations. You will see reclining one, sitting one, meditating one and ones surrounded by many statues.

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There are many beautiful gates to enter into the countless temples. As you circle around, the direction changes and you can see those in different perspective. At one point, I thought that, I am inside a maze.

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After walking in circle for several times, I sat in the terrace of a temple and looked over the whole thing. It was hard for me to digest what I observed moments ago. I am pretty sure, there are not many worship places on earth which stands in such majestic and magnificent way!

My clock was ticking and had a bus to catch, so, I was forced to leave. Before leaving the complex, I decided that, I should go there again, someday when, it will be even more gilded with gold.

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Fuad Omar

Fuad Omar

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