The Shwedagon Pagoda is the largest Buddhist temple of Myanmar. The main stupa is completely covered in gold. The official name is Shwedagon Zedi Daw. Other names are the Great Dagon Pagoda and the Golden Pagoda. The pagoda has a height of 105m, located on Singuttara Hill in the southwest of Yangon. Therefore it is visible from all over the city and around.
Legendary tales mention the first construction of the Shwedagon Pagoda around 600 b.c., 2600 years ago. Historical and archeological studies mention that the Shwedagon Pagoda was built between the 6th and 10th century by the Mon people, an ethnic group from the Mon state. The stupa fell in disrepair, but was rebuilt in the 14th century. A century later it was reconstructed from a height of 18m to 40m. In the 16th century Shwedagon Pagoda became the most famous pilgrim place for Buddhists in Burma (now Myanmar).
A series of earthquakes damaged the stupa, destroying most of it in 1768. After that, in the next century, it was rebuild up to the current height of 105m. Another earthquake in 1970 damaged the crown umbrella, followed by repairs in the years after.
As the Shwedagon Pagoda is in the city, it is possible to go there by foot or by bicycle. Another option is to go by taxi. The main entrance is at the south, but you can also enter from north, east and west. All sides have a stairway and elevator. Before entering the complex you need to take off the shoes near the ticket booth. Also proper dresscode is required, covering knees and shoulders, which is common at holy places. Upstairs you find the temple area. Remember which entrance you came in if you want to find your shoes back.
Many temples are interesting for half an hour, but at this place you can easily spend half a day or even the whole day. Opening times are from 4am to 10pm, 7 days a week. Entrance fee for foreigners is 8.000 Kyat and might be raised to 10.000 Kyat, around $7 per person. Locals have free entrance.
Things to see
Most impressive is the huge golden Shwedagon Pagoda. Walk around it and discover the corners for every day of the week. Around the main pagoda many other temples are located. All are beautiful in their own way with different looks, meaning and purpose. In most of them you can enter and take pics. In the buildings you’ll find many different Buddha images and statues. There is also a factory for making their own monk clothing.
When you are in Yangon (Rangoon), a major city in the south of Myanmar (formerly Burma), a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda complex is something you shouldn’t miss.