“A golden mystery upheaved itself on the horizon – a beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun…”. So described Rudyard Kipling on first setting eyes upon the truly awe-inspiring sight that is Yangon’s, or in his day Rangoon’s, famous Shwedagon Pagoda.
The gold leaf-covered central stupa of Shwedagon Paya towers some 100 metres into the Yangon skyline – topped with diamonds and rubies and surrounded by a multitude of smaller chedis, pagodas, shrines and Buddha images. An awesome sight but what we found equally fascinating (and photogenic) were the people; the worshippers, pilgrims, devotees, monks, nuns, holy-men and of course myriad visitors both local and foreign.
In order to show respect (and perhaps simply to show-off in certain cases), local visitors will get dressed up in their Sunday best for a pagoda visit – adding to the display.
Absolutely engrossing stuff and we almost could have believed that the holy man (below) had been paid to pose there for exotic tourist photos by the Myanmar tourism office – perfect!
Think I was supposed to be appreciating the highly prestigious and sacred Buddha images, the temple’s astrological symbolism and finer points of Theravada Buddhist architecture but really the whole humanity scene was just fascinating.
But just to show I was paying attention here’s some more of Shwedagon’s graceful, towering stupas.
Something for everyone really – an absolutely amazing spot and can’t wait to get back there. We’ve got a dusk or sunset visit planned to fit into our upcoming 2-week tour Discover Burma (Myanmar) – “a land quite unlike any you know” (A Rudyard Kipling quote again), so that should be worth waiting for! (And while we’re on the subject, what are UNESCO waiting for to add this unique and historic site to their World Heritage list?