Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Place to Visit in Yangon - Shwedagon Pagoda (The Golden Glory)

The view of Shwedagon Pagoda from Kandawgyi Lake
The Shwedagon Pagoda is the colossal golden spire in Yangon, the business capital of the union of Myanmar. The great shrine stands on the Singuttra Hill which is the southern extremity of the Bago Yoma.
The Shwedagon Pagoda, a vertical mountain of gold, in held in high is teem by Buddhists all over the world. This pagoda is Myanmar outstanding land mark. The pagoda was build over 2,500 years ago by King Ukkalapa on the full-moon day of Taboung in 103 Buddhist Era. Four relics were enshrined in this pagoda, namely the staff of Kaukuthan Buddha, the water-dipper of Grawnagon Buddha, the bathing-robe of Kassapa Buddha and the eight hairs of Gautama Buddha. Hence the Shwedagon is called “The Pagoda of Four Relics”.
The foundation of the pagoda is coeval with the Enlightenment of Gautama Buddha. On the morning of the forty-ninth day after the Buddha had attained enlightenment, two brothers – Taphussa and Bhallika, came to this seared place. They are merchants from Ukkalapa province of the land of Romanya. As directed by a nat(spirit), the two brothers approached the food of linlum tree where the Buddha was residing after enlightenment. Seeing a halo of six radiation rays round the body of the Buddha, they were wonder-struck and held the Buddha in great adoration. The two brothers paid homage to the Buddha with offerings of rice-cakes and honey-food. He preached them the law. When they supplicated to the lord Buddha to give them something they might worship as the lord’s self. He stroked his head with his right hand and got eight hairs and gave them to the merchants.
Taphussa and Bhallika came back to their native town carrying the lord Buddha’s hairs. Near the gate of the city they build a mandat (pandal) where the casket containing the hairs was placed. A festival was held for three day and the towns-people flocked to the pandal to worship the hairs. King Ukkalapa, on hearing about the arrival of the sacred hairs, was filled with joy. Then, King Ukkalapa, the son of Sakka (the king of nat) and Mailamu, made arrangements to build a pagoda on Singuttara Hill where in were enshrined the hairs of Gautama Buddha together with the Relics of three preceding Buddha.
At the time, King Ukkalapa built the Shwedagon Pagoda it was only 66 feet in height. The king from Mon, King Binnyagyan raised it to 302 feet and only in the eighteenth century, Myanmar King Sinbuyshin raised it to its present height of 326 feet. The perimeter at the base of the pagoda is 1420 feet. On the upper platform, there are 64 small pagodas with four larger one, at the cardinal paints. The base of this platform is again surrounded by 75 Ok-gupyatthat pagodas.
The most venerated four images, one each in the central niches of the Aryongon Tazaungs, the main prayer halls at the cardinal points, are those of Gautama Buddha in the north, Gaunagon Buddha in the south, Kaukkuthan Buddha in the east and Kassapa Buddha in the west.
The pagoda was studded with many kinds of gems from the plinth to the banana bud. At the top stands a priceless “Sein Phu” (diamond bud). It is a spherical globe 10 inches in diameter inlaid with over 4,500 diamonds and other precious stones that adorn the finial of the great Shwedagon Pagoda. The bulbous spire, form the moulding s to the top of the banana bud, was covered with 13,153 gold plates each measuring one foot square. Each gold plate weighs six tickles.
There are many Aryongan Tazaungs encircling the great pagoda on the platform. The Shwedagon with its hit whispering with silvery sounds by day or by night in a most peaceful and quiet place with intense and devotional atmosphere fit for prayers and meditation by gods and man.
There are some, folk-elements at the pagoda in the guise of joys-symbolic figures of “planets” representing different days of the week. Under each symbolic figure on pillar, there is a small image of Buddha. People (especially weaker sex) in great distress go to the particular symbolic figure of joy on the main platform and a professional water-seller recites his memorized prayers on behalf of his client, before the symbolic figure of a joy. Then the client pours water relevantly over the body of the Buddha image from a silver bowl many times.
The Shwedagon Pagoda hill is on 190 feet above sea level. On the first terrace are 64 small pagodas with four big one, and at the four corners are “Manokthiha” (sphinx – like but twin-bodied mythical erectors) and lions. On the north-west corner of this terrace will be found the figures of Kings parents, Sakka and Mailamu. On the platform of the shrine are two large bells,  the one in the north-east corner pavilion is the “Maha Tisadda Ghamda Bell” donated by King Tharyawaddy in 1841 A.D and weighs 40 tons and is 81/2 height. The other bell in the north-west corner pavilion is the “Maha Grada Bell” donated by King Singu in 1778 AD. It weighs 23.3 tons and is 7 feet high. There is a sacred Bodhi Tree (Nyaung Bodhi, a kind of banyan tree) somewhere on the platform of the pagoda to which a devotional pouring of water is made by all devout Buddhists on the full-moon day of Kason (Buddha’s day) every year.
The pagoda festivals are held on the platform and the prayer halls of the great Shwedagon with full attendance of the Buddhist devotees on the full-moon days of Kason, Wazo, Thadingyut, Tazaungmon and Tabaung. Among them, Tazaungmon and Tabaung festivals are very famous, the former being the communal offering to the images of the lord Buddha of sacred yellow robes (Mathothingyan) before dawn, and the latter being the mural celebration of building the pagoda.There are three elevators attached to eastern, norther and southern stairways and one escalator to the western stairway of the pagoda.
ref; Maung Khine Zaw, The Traveller
Anatomy of the Shwedagon
The view of Shwedagon in early 19th century
Celebrating a ceremony on the platform 

Pagoda platform at the dawn

Celebrating the Buddha's day ceremony at the Bodhi Tree

Decoration statues at the Shwedagon Pagoda

Diamond Bud of the Pagoda

76 carat diamond at the top of the Diamond Bud of the Pagoda

Historic Bell 

Meditation on the platform

Pouring water at the Planetary Post

Praying at the shrine hall

Inside of a shrine hall

the view of Shwedagon Pagoda and Kandawgyi Lake

Night view of Shwedagon Pagoda and city area

Stairway to the pagoda

Souvenir shop at the stairway

Offerings shops at the stairway

British Army at the Shwedagon stairway in 1943-1945

Volunteers sweepers on the pagoda platform
Novitiation ceremony on the pagoda platform

Day Trip Outside Yangon - Golden Rock

Panoramic view with Golden Rock
Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, also known as Golden Rock is located at the Kyaikhto Township in Mon State which is 180 km away from Yangon. Plenty of transportation services are running between Golden Rock and Yangon, such as private car, bus, train etc. Only by train, you need to overnight there. When you arrive at the base camp of the golden rock, take an hour ride open truck up to the mountain top and walk another 15 minutes to see the Golden Rock. Another way is 4 hours hiking up to the mountain and earns the pilgrim merit. That’s what we used in the old days.

A Merit-Earning Pilgrimage
At the bottom of Kyaiktiyo and all along the path to its summit are rest houses built by well-wishers. Vendors sell bamboo and cane crafts, traditional herbal medicines, and food and drinks.
The 10 mile (16 km) hike up the mountain takes about 4 hours and earns the pilgrim merit. Between October and March, during the dry season, thousands of worshipers make this climb, a trek lined with many nat shrines. The journey is strenuous, but the path affords beautiful views of the surrounding springs and forest. Porters can be hired to help carry the pilgrims’ luggage – or the pilgrims themselves – in hammocks attached to bamboo poles. Children can be carried in cane baskets. Along the way, many pilgrims collect water from certain springs in bottles to bring home, believing the water possesses the power to cure illnesses. When the pilgrims reach the top of Mount Kyaiktiyo, they chant and meditate through the night. From the summit, they have to cross a short bridge built over a deep chasm to get to the flat ledge on which the golden boulder stands. Along the journey up the mountain, many of the pilgrims buy squares of gold leaf to apply to the rock’s surface. Over the years, the gold leaf has accumulated to form a thick layer of solid gold!

Defying Gravity
A spectacular sight meets visitors to Mount Kyaiktiyo in Mon State. Resting on the edge of a cliff is a golden boulder with a girth of 50 feet (15.2 m). A small stupa 18 feet (5.5m) high is perched atop the boulder. The entire marvel – Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, or Golden Rock – is 80 feet (24.4 m) high. An important center for pilgrims, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is said to contain one of the Buddha’s hairs. The Burmese believe that the rock was placed on the mountain ledge, 2,500 years ago, with the help of Nats (or) Spirits.
Golden Rock at the dawn
Sunset at the Golden Rock
Night Scene of Golden Rock
A Nat (or) Spirit Shrine

A monk praying at the Golden Rock

Women are not allowed to touch the rock
Local food stalls at the Golden Rock
Golden Rock Bazzer
Open Truck Car Terminal

Selling Indigenous Medicines

Settlement area on the Mountain Top

Truck Ride to the Golden Rock

Comfortable chair porter