World's Largest Book, Mandalay Myanmar, Jan. 2019

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

#4 Sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda

Was this really just our first day of the trip? 

In spite of being very tired, the visit to Shewedagon Pagoda at sunset was a spectacular sight. It stands on a hill overlooking Yangon, and the late afternoon sun causes the many gold covered  and gold painted structures to glow. 

I'm really not sure about my use of the terms "Pagoda" and "Stupa" and "Shrine".  The best definition I can find is this: 
"The origin of the pagoda can be traced to the stupa (3rd century BCE). The stupa, a dome shaped monument, was used as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics. ... These buildings (pagoda, stupa) became prominent as Buddhist monuments used for enshrining sacred relics." Wikipedia

Unfortunately the main stupa of the pagoda was under wraps, as it is being repaired and restored.

image from web
This image from the web shows how it looked before the restoration began.

The restoration of the gold on these two bells at its base reflected the sunshine. 

The top of the left most shrine is being restored

Ninety percent of the Burmese people are Buddhist, and many come from across the country and the world, to pray at this holy site. The gold used for the restorations is donated by the faithful.

Sheets of donated gold leaf are sent to the top in a ceremony that involves this "flying" cart. I would have loved to see it in action.

The red parts of this shrine roof  will be covered in gold in the future. 

This was taken as the light was starting to fade. The amount of detail on the roof edges was amazing. In the background is a white bell with gold trim. Many designs are repeated over and over, and some are unique.

Inside each shrine there are one or more Buddha statues. Hundreds of Buddhas in all sizes. These are just a few.

But the Buddha are not alone. Four of these fearsome creatures, each on its own tiled pillar, surrounded one Buddha statue in a mirror covered shrine.

The decorative detail of the ceiling was amazing.

As I looked at this last image of the Pagoda shrines, at first I though something was on my camera's lens filter. But then I realized it was just a couple of crows coming in for the night.

First arrivals
As we walked back to our car, we noticed more and more flocking in.

By the time we left, the scaffolds we could see were covered with perching black crows.

Perhaps Buddha gives them a safe haven for the night.


Shwedagon Pagoda was the first we visited. There are thousands of Pagodas in Southeast Asia. They are not "churches" but people do come to pray at them. Some are large complexes like this and others are a single stupa on a hill in the countryside.

They have fairly strict dress codes, no shoes or socks allowed, but anyone is welcome to go in.

By the time we visited, I was quite tired and don't think I could really appreciate what I was seeing, except that this spectacular place was alive and is a significant part of the culture of this part of the world. Most Westerners do not fully understand or appreciate the religions of so many others. 

As we traveled I did learn a few more things about Buddhist practices, but cannot seem to put them together enough to understand them.

But then, I wouldn't expect someone from Myanmar to understand Rome either. 

Next Post:
#5  Food and more things we saw in Yangon.


  1. such amazing sights! And all on the first day :-0 How could you have taken it all in?

  2. Merikay I am so enjoying your trip, such amazing sights and such a contrast from the busy streets to the Pagodas!

  3. Amazing Pictures of a Culture that as you said is sometimes hard to understand.
    Definitely worth the visit.
    Be Safe and stay warm.

    It's about time.

  4. It's been a while since I've stopped by. So behind on blogs. What a fabulous vacation you're having so far. Great to see new places and visit with your son as well!


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