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Myanmar - Explore the land of Buddha

Posted By : Threeland Travel / Myanmar Travel Guide

If you've never been to Myanmar, here's one easy reason why you should: the pagodas. It is reasonable to estimate that the country has more than 150 pagodas distributed throughout its regions and states, each with its unique narrative to tell. These stunning buildings are a religious Burmese emblem with a lengthy Buddhist history dating back to when Buddhism was first founded in Myanmar.

Each pagoda has its own distinct architecture, so you'll never get tired of admiring the exquisite buildings and stupas. In fact, there are so many that you will not be able to visit them all throughout your vacation. Knowing this, these are the top ten pagodas most likely to make your Myanmar vacation worthwhile.

Read more: Impressed with ancient and unique architecture in Thatbyinnyu Temple, Myanmar 

1. Shwedagon Pagoda 

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is one of the most famous pagodas in the world, and it is frequently filled with tourists. Despite the lack of an official age, the Shwedagon pagoda is said to be 2,600 years old and the world's oldest pagoda. Diamonds, rubies, and precious stones adorn the towering gold-plated dome. The pagoda's alluring shape and decorations resemble those of a crown, prompting it to be dubbed "the Crown of Burma." The atmosphere of this massive pagoda is serene and calming, making it ideal for those who enjoy meditation. If you visit this pagoda in the evening around sunset, you will hear monks and worshippers reciting mantras and praying.

2. The Mahamuni Pagoda

This pagoda, located in Mandalay's southwest, is the country's second most important religious landmark. The pagoda houses a four-meter-tall bronze Buddha figure. If you visit the pagoda early in the morning, you will be able to watch a senior monk's washing rite of the image, which is witnessed by many worshippers. Enjoy several photo possibilities and don't miss out on visiting the area's markets, which sell a variety of souvenirs and local handicrafts. Don't miss the painting museum, which tells the tale of Buddha and the fabrication of the Buddha statue via elaborate paintings and hand-drawn illustrations by local artisans.

3. Golden Rock Pagoda / Kyaiktiyo

Kyaiktiyo pagoda, located in Mon State, is a tiny temple in comparison to other pagodas in Myanmar. However, don't let its bulk deter you from hiking the hill for a spectacular view of the peak. This pagoda is erected on top of a granite rock on Mt. Kyaiktiyo and has a smooth surface thanks to the numerous layers of gold leaf placed on it. Only males, however, are permitted to touch the granite and apply gold leaves. The pagoda is thought to have been put on the boulder because it resembles a monk's head, and the rock can balance on the steep edge thanks to the support of a strand of the Buddha's hair.

4. Kuthodaw Pagoda

When you visit Mandalay's Kuthodaw Pagoda, you will find the world's biggest book. The fabrication of 729 marble slabs etched with inscriptions of Buddhist teachings and put around the pagoda took 8 years. Each slab's smooth and glossy surface is carved with Buddhist writings, making it a sight to see. The 57-meter-tall golden pagoda has a bell-shaped stupa and four Chinthe (mythological lions) defending each side. The British colonial vandalized the pagoda and marble slabs, but they were successfully rebuilt thanks to donations from the Burmese people.

5. The Sule Pagoda

This pagoda, located in the center of downtown Yangon, stands out as a traditional structure amid a bustling metropolis where bright lights and traffic noises are constant. A footbridge up the northern portion of the road provides a greater view of the pagoda. This pagoda glows wonderfully in the evening, accompanied by lights from passing automobiles. The pagoda is said to have a hair relic belonging to Lord Buddha. It was named after Sule Nat, a ghost (Nat) who originally dwelt on the site where the pagoda was erected. The 44-meter-tall pagoda also has a unique octagonal form for a Burmese pagoda.

6. The Ananda Pagoda

This Bagan pagoda will wow you with its exquisite, old architectural style influenced by Mon and North Indian influences. According to legend, the king who ordered the pagoda's construction also ordered its architects to be executed upon completion in order to prevent the pagoda from being reproduced. The apertures in the walls enable sunshine to enter the temple, offering enough of natural light for photography, while cavities have been built to house Buddha sculptures. You should also visit the sikhara, which is a spire influenced by North Indian architecture placed on top of the pagoda and visible from afar.

7. Shwezigon Pagoda

This pagoda is one of Bagan's oldest. Visitors who want to explore all of the buildings and rooms of Shwezigon Pagoda, also known as the smaller counterpart of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, would be pleased. There are various Buddha images scattered throughout the pagoda, and visitors are welcome to sprinkle their own gold leaves on the statues. Each leaf costs around 1,000 Kyats. You may buy one, crouch beneath the stupas where the statues reside, and paste a leaf on the broken areas of the sculptures to restore them. The gold-plated pagoda makes for a spectacular sight, especially at night when spotlights beam on the gold surface, making the entire pagoda to gleam. It is completely safe to visit this pagoda at night because it is still alive with activity, and residents are courteous enough to assist you in taking a few shots. The pagoda also houses a few valuable Buddha relics, making it a very important holy location for followers. Because you must remove your shoes, it is recommended to visit this pagoda early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid walking barefoot on the scorching pavements.

8. Hsinbyume Pagoda 

The first destination locals recommend seeing in Sagaing Region is Hsinbyume Pagoda. The pagoda's façade is all white, and its design is unique among Burmese pagodas. The pagoda is flanked by seven terraces that depict the seven mountain ranges that lead to Mount Meru, a sacred peak in Buddhist mythology. The undulating construction of these terraces is certainly a sight to behold. If you don't mind the heat from the hot weather, this pagoda is an excellent site for photography—the white color of the pagoda gives off an ethereal aspect in images.

9. Kyauktawgyi Pagoda

This pagoda has exquisite patterns and decorations that emphasize the efforts of Myanmarese craftsmen who spent a long time creating the inside. The entire pagoda is massive, and it holds a 37-foot-tall and 24-foot-wide marble Buddha figure. The grounds are well-kept and groomed, and artworks are prominently exhibited. The main attraction is an 8-foot marble figure of Buddha. The lustrous statue, sculpted in the nineteenth century, is said to have taken more than two weeks to construct and ten thousand men to carry. The pagoda is located in Mandalay and is best visited in October to attend one of the city's main festivals, Kyauktawgyi Paya.

10. Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda

The Shwe Oo Min Pagoda is housed in a limestone cave near Kalaw. Surrounded by stalagmite and stalactite formations, there are over 8,000 Buddha images constructed of diverse materials such as teak, marble, brick, and cement. Local pilgrims and even tourists gift these Buddha pictures, a custom that continues to this day. You can also make a donation to have a Buddha image put in the cave. To enjoy a relaxing journey and avoid the peak-hour congestion, visit the pagoda in the morning when the air is cool and pleasant. 

Now that you've seen the top ten pagodas, it's time to plan a vacation to Myanmar. Prepare to be amazed by the beauty of each pagoda and attracted by each distinctive design that will undoubtedly create a lasting impression on your trip to Myanmar. Contact Threeland Travel for Myanmar or Indochina holiday tour !