Pagodas, or stupas, are Buddhist monuments usually containing sacred relics associated with the Buddha or other Buddhist saints. It is possible to find different variations of stupas around the southeastern countries such as the bell-shaped dagaba of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the temple of Borobudur in Java, and the multistoried pagodas of China, Korea, and Japan. Nevertheless, this text focuses on some of the best examples of pagodas around Myanmar.
Kuthodaw Pagodas in Mandalay
Kuthodaw Pagoda, also known as “the world’s largest book,” consists of a gilded pagoda, 729 shrines, and several pavilions. The construction of the complex started in 1860, three years after the founding of Mandalay, and took eight years to complete. Each inscribed marble slab around the shrine represents a page of a book; thus forming the largest book in the world.
Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay
Mahamuni Pagoda is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Myanmar as it houses the most revered Buddha image in the country. This image is so great that it sits on an ornate 1.80 meters high pedestal, and it is 3.80 m high and weighs about 6½ tons. Moreover, a great number of Buddhist believers wash the face and brush the teeth of this Buddha image every morning as a ritual.
Sandamuni Pagoda in Mandalay
Built as a memorial to Prince Kanaung, who was murdered in 1866, Sandamuni Pagoda consists of a golden chedi and 1774 shrines. The pagoda is actually known for housing the largest iron Buddha image made of almost 41,000 pounds of iron in Myanmar.
Kakku Pagodas in the Shan State
Hsinbyume Pagoda in Mandalay
Built in 1816, Hsinbyume Pagoda is an impressive white pagoda consisting of seven terraces that look like waves. According to popular belief, Hsinbyume Pagoda represents Mount Meru while the terraces represent the seven rings of mountains surrounding Mount Meru (the center of the universe in Buddhist mythology). The pagoda is also known as Mye Thein Tan (meaning 100,000 emeralds) as one hundred thousand emeralds were spent to fund its construction.
Jade Pagoda, aka Kyauksein Pagoda, takes its name from 10,000,000 kg of jade covering the structure that is 23.01 m high. In fact, it is the first pagoda in the world constructed entirely from gemstones.