Why visit Bago?
Bago is just 2 hour drive away from Yangon and I strongly recommend anyone who is doing Yangon free and easy to include Bago too. It is the ancient capital of Myanmar, 4 important historical sites are located around Bago city and one of them are Shwemawdaw Pagoda.
A day trip to Bago is doable as hotel in Bago is still lack of proper facilities and city folks like us may not get use to it. So I still suggest you to stay in Yangon.
15 meter higher than Yangon’s Swedagon Pagoda
Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Bago is 114 meter which made the tallest pagoda in whole Myanmar. Swedagon Pagoda in Yangon is also huge and tall but it is still shorter than Shwemawdaw Pagoda by 15 meter. Before reaching, you can see Shwemawdaw Pagoda from a far.
The refection of the Shwemawdaw Pagoda on the puddle of water can be seen. (Below picture)
At the entrance, you need to take off your shoes before entering. There are stairs to go up to the Shwemawdaw pagoda.
The tall stupa has experienced several earthquake over the centuries, one in 1917 and the other in 1930. Each rebuild and repair made the stupa a little taller untill 115 meter now.
Volunteers are cleaning the stupa during my visit, so the floor was very wet. Walk carefully as I nearly fell down couple of times. Usually there are long mat placed around the stupa, so it is safer to walk on the mat but it is a bit irritable.
Pavilions & Shrines
There are several pavilion and shrines around the big stupa. It is more spacious as compared to Yangon’s Swedagon Pagoda.
Little monk walking around the temple complex added a calming ambience.
Visitors resting under the Bodi tree.
Burmese are usually seen wearing their traditional clothing when visiting the temple. No shoes, no sleeveless and knee-length attire.
Moment of prayers at the praying corner.
The layout look similar to Swadagon Pagoda in Yangon but less crowded and less foreign tourists.
Myanmar horoscope practise based on the day of the week and the person date of birth is important. There are 8 zodiac signs in Myanmar, one for each day of the week (but two on Wednesday). These signs representing by animals with Monday being a tiger, Tuesday a lion, Wednesday morning an elephant, Wednesday afternoon a tusk-less elephant, Thursday a rat, Friday a guinea pig, Saturday a dragon and Sunday a Garuda (mythical bird). When a child is born, it is common to be named using a name associated with their zodiac sign.
Most pagoda has a special corner dedicated to each sign of the zodiac and this is the birthday corner. People visit pagodas to pay respects to their corner. Can you remember which day of the week you were born? Well, I don’t know which day of the week I was born so I was not able to pay respect at the birthday corner.
The Shwemawdaw Pagoda was built in the 10th century by a Mon King. The pagoda enshrine two hair relics of the Buddha. According to legend, the hair strands were given to two Burmese traders by the Gautama Buddha himself. In the year 982 and again in 1385, tooth relics were enshrined in the pagoda.
This is the section broke off during the earthquake 1917. It is not pained with gold.
Multi tiered Pyatthat roof are the symbols of Burmese architecture. (See below)
Final thoughts :
Similar to Swedagon Pagoda, Shwemawdaw Pagoda is one of the icon in Bago city, ancient capital of Myanmar. Shwemawdaw Pagoda is the tallest pagoda in Myanmar, the towering pagoda glittering in the sun can be seen from far away.
Other tips :
- No shoes no socks
- No sleeveless & knee-length dress or pants
- Bring along wet tissue to wipe your feet on your exit
- Get Bago archeological zone ticket at US$ 10 per person which is valid to visit the pagoda other 3 historical sites in Bago.
Other attractions in Bago :
- Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha – Outdoor
- Bago Reclining Shwethalyaung Buddha (Indoor)
- 4 Seated Buddha – Kyaik Pun Pagoda
- Bago Monk School – Kya Kha Wain Kyaung Monastery
- The Golden Palace in Bago – Kanbawzathadi Palace
- White Elephant in Hsin Hpyu Daw Park Yangon
- Taukkyan War Cemetery
- Road Trip from Yangon to Bago – 14 Things to observe