The biggest Monument in Buddhism

The Shwedagon Platform and great pictures.

The central stupa is one of the holiest shrine in the Buddhist world and this has a reason just look through here. Actually this is a large pagoda platform with over more 300 temples and shrines grouped around.  
Basic Visiting Data:

Opening hours are from 04:00 AM to 22:00 PM every day, last admission is at 21:45.

Shwedagon Pagoda

There are two days of the year, the Waxing Day of Tabaung, means the day before full moon day of the Myanmar Lunar month Tabaung in March and on the Waxing Day of Wakhaung – the day before full moon day of Wakhaung the platform is open 24 hours.

When vising it needs to pay $ 8,- entrance fee. I never heard that there is an entrance fee in a church, Taoist temple, Mosque or Indian Temple. Only Buddhist use their Lord to cash in on foreigners, that's the same in Thailand but interestingly not in Malaysia. I think it is not a good idea to use Buddha to milk the tourist he definitely wouldn't like that. 

What to wear?

Clothing reaching at least down to knees and elbows, have your upper body covered up to the neck. No shoes allowed, there is a storage at the south entrance where you can leave them and also wash your feet after coming back. 

Be aware that the platform is covered with marble tiles that means from around midday to 3 pm it is almost impossible to walk since they are awfully hot. 

About the architecture.

Shwedagon Layout

The layout is a solid structures, enshrined are sacred relics or precious items set on the platform with more than 300 smaller buildings around. Here is another "Buddhist / Taoist" shrine Myanmar / Burmese Shrine in Georgetown, Penang Malaysia.

Surrounding the stupa are 72 small stone temples and shrines, each with one and more Buddha sculptures inside. In between are images of lions and elephants, Nats ( the ghost's) and Bilus ( terrifying demons ). The corners of the first base of the stupa are guarded by sphinxes and for "protection" are still 24 Chinthe figures six on each side plus some naga.

In the line with the axes opposite the entrances are four Tazaungs , this are halls, which are crowned with multi-story roofs . They are richly decorated and inside are the most revered of the Buddha sculptures where devotees are meditating and praying. Although the "Buddhist World" is more fragmented than Christians and Muslims this sacred shrine is probably the most famous among the devotees.

The real dimension one can see is after entering the platform since the main stupa is only one among many, although it is the biggest.

There are countless smaller shrines in the usual colors yellow, gold and white. How does the stupa look today? Its a rectangular platform with a dimension of 214 x 275 meters, extending from north to south, and is about 25 m over the flat terrain surrounding it.

As usual in Myanmar four stairways lead to the platform, which are aligned with the axes of the central stupa and covered with tiered roofs which is the typical Burmese platform architecture.

The western entrance has 175 steps; at the south side is the shortest with 104. The structure is terraced with a bell shaped top indicate the slopes of Mt. Meru, the abode of Hindu gods. The monument is a symbol of Buddha functions as a big protective chamber, the main difference is into a temple you can walk in, into a stupa you cant.

Shwedagon Platform

Visiting the platform and the central stupa of the complex at the southern part of the. The levels of the base almost merge with each other. Around the monument is a ring of smaller stupas rises that surround the central The Shwedagon has an elongated elegant silhouette, a classic example of a Buddhist stupa, read more.

Some other Buddhist Shrines elsewhere are here, actually there are thousands of them everywhere in the country, big and small, gilded and plastered wood and masonry, metal and plastic, jade and porcelain, just name it, it is overwhelming, read more

west entrance to the platform at Singuttara Hill
At the West Entrance, are two nine-meter high Chinthe figures, this are statues of fantastic guardians partly looking like lions built in a naive realism. As in many countries the lion is a symbol of power, read more.

In the stairways up to the platform are dozens of shops selling everything imaginable from toys to Buddha images, flowers etc. The Myanmar Girls below is preparing roses for donation to the Buddha Statues.  
cutting flowers for donation

Many people have "their" preferred shrine where they pray and present the flowers to their Lord. 

gold Buddha and flower donations

On the first step shoulder of the Shwedagon base are 64 small, three to four meters high pagodas. Four more which are a bit bigger rise at the axes of the complex. The central building is distinguished by noble proportions, carefully crafted details and by some games of light and shadow as the sun moves. The cover ( Hti ) on the top is from 1871. It consists of seven gold rings, diamonds and plenty of more donated gold and jewelry it is 10 m high.

donated jewelry

The diamond orb at the top

The diamond orb at the mast top >

The mast is made of a silver alloy and decorated with four golden Buddha bas-reliefs. This precious crowning of the stupa is studded with 5451 diamonds in various handcrafts weight of 2078 carats, and with about 1470 other precious stones. The total number of gold and silver bells fiber amounts to 1500.

Shwedagon Pagoda gold used. 

The lower part of the 99.5 meter-high monument is covered with gold leaf , the top with more than 14 000 gold films in the format 30 x 30 cm and a total weight of about 100 kg. The Hti sparkles in the glow of countless gold and silver bells that surround him. Above extends the mast with the likewise made of gold weather vane and the Seinbu ( the " diamond bud " in the form of a golden sphere of 25 cm diameter).

shwedagon pagoda yangon

Pagoda and tazaungs >

The edge of the platform is occupied by numerous buildings and objects of various shape and determination. This includes dozens of different stupas , Buddha images and numerous Tazaungs with bells and rest houses for pilgrims ( Zayats ) and administrative offices. They are distributed without any particular order.

People worshipped

Most objects on the platform were built in recent decades, especially after the devastating fire in 1931 , which destroyed 20 buildings particularly on the east and west sides .

The traditional walk around the central stupa narrows in some places up to 10 m and widens to other up to 30 m. The paving of dealing with Italian marble and mosaic slabs of concrete was carried out in 20 Century.

When visiting the place keep in mind that the marble gets heated up and it around noon riches as temperature which makes is almost impossible to walk on it, this is important to mention since nobody is allowed to wear shoes and similar stuff.

Every few decades the monuments get a "facelift" or renovation. This is a craft task with a political twist, because certain people move into the spotlight to gain merit and show others what devout Buddhists they are.

Praying to Buddha Statues
Myanmar Buddhism

The big Shwedagon Bell
The big Shwedagon Bell

Burma History the King >

buddha shrine

Buddha Sculpture >

Buddhist Monks
Pagoda Bells
sitting Buddha statues

Small Temple
shwedagon pagoda pictures

popular temple

sitting Buddha statue

Sitting Buddha statue >

There are thousands of temples and pagodas > in the country they show the deep faith the Burmese people have in Buddhism.  

Buddha Sculptures and Statues

There are hundreds of statues.

Big Buddha Sculptures, small ones, new, old and of various quality. The statues have naturally religious and often just decorative function in a home or office.

Many Buddhist devotees place them in a temple on the platform to gain merit, some built a whole pagoda, shrine and temple and place them there. Since this is a popular habit in the country there are probably millions of them virtually everywhere. on hills, mountains on islands in the river, offshore or just as a jade pendant around the neck.

Pouring water over the Buddha Statue
Sitting Buddha shielded by the Naga
The Shwethalyaung Buddha

This huge reclining sculpture is in a compound just before Bago when coming from Yangon it is a popular pilgrim destination together with the Kyaik Pun Buddha close by. 

The Buddha is represented in different positions called Mudras

Monk Buddha and Flowers

Kyaik Pun Buddha at Bago

A monumental sleeping Buddha in Monywa

Sculptures are a substantial part of Myanmar art.

Plenty of great creative work is done by making them since hundreds of years, although they always look somehow similar they variations mainly depending where they are created. 
The artists usually bring some local ideas into the work and the proportion vary slightly in different countries, but the basics are fix since hundreds of years.

Beautiful Buddha Sculpture and SnakeFine Buddha Sculpture Creation

Ananda Temple in Bagan

This is one of the five most famous in town

and a real amazing structure, built under King Kyanzittha in 1105 AD, this is one of the biggest in the city and really impressive, there are about hundred more in good conditions and many more in various state of decay.  

The monument has a microcosms by itself because of devotees visiting everyday and this are not only local ones they com from everywhere in the country and a large number of foreigners are among them. This are not only tourist, there are many Buddhist pilgrims from the region plus China, Korea and Japan.

The Ananda in the Morning
Wall relief with jakata story

Dozens of locals have businesses around, selling souvenirs and other items, at one of the entrances a famous photographer has a stall this is Mr. Bagan Maung Maung, he really makes exceptional pictures. If you want to bring some great artwork home from your journey buy some of his, actually I can't think of any more appropriate to bring back home.  

Great Buddhist Shrine

Temple GuardianTo visit the shrine the first time 

it is highly recommended to take a tour guide with since with them you will learn about the monument in one day more as if you do it on your in 3 days even when using a travel guide book. The guides are not expensive they also could be used for a day trip to Mount Popa

Mount Popa
Mount Popa
Bagan Architecture
The other reason is, many shrines are closed and it needs to get a key to enter they know where to get it, you don't so you finally will miss a lot you will regret since you don't come here so often. 

A great Buddhist Temple

Buddhist Temple
Buddhist Temple
On top of it they know all temples where the best picture shooting spots are. You might need to search for hours etc. that also has a social function since your money finally reaches the people directly.

The monument in the Distance

Golden Buddha StatueThis spectacular religious monument is one of the highlights in the city, every day hundreds of people walk through. Outside are some souvenir vendors and it make sense to buy something from them, keep in mind this is their only income, when there is no sell today there is nothing to eat tomorrow.

Standing Buddha Sculpture

Bagan pictures, 

one shop is particular interesting, located right outside the exit they are selling photos, the photographer is Mr. Bagan Maung Maung, he is one of the top in this field in the country.

Hallways of the monument

Main transportation in the city

Temple interior
Temple interior and Buddha Statues

The famous Shwezigon Pagoda