The Shwemawdaw Pagoda
The Shwemawdaw Pagoda is a stupa located in Bago, Myanmar. It is often referred to as the Golden God Temple. At 114 metres (374 ft) in height, the Shwemadaw holds the record for the tallest pagoda in the country although the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is usually credited as the tallest pagoda in Myanmar (at 98 metres (322 ft)). Shwemadaw, along with the Shwedagon and Kyaiktiyo, are famous Mon pagodas. The pagoda's annual festival is a 10-day affair that takes place during the Burmese month of Tagu.
The Shwemawdaw Paya was originally built around the 10th century, C.E. It was destroyed several times due to earthquakes, including one in 1917 and another in 1930. Portions of the fallen pre-1917 version of the Paya remain at the site. The original version of the pagoda was approximately 21 metres (69 ft) tall, built by the Mon supposedly to hold two hairs of the Buddha. Allegedly, the hairs were given personally to two Mon merchants named Mahasala and Kullasala by the Buddha on a trip to India. Tooth relics were also added to the pagoda in 982 and 1385. Further additions to the temple include a bell from King Dhammazedi, a crown from King Bayinnaung, and a spire umbrella from King Bodawpaya. The current stupa, as of its most recent rebuilding, stands at 374 feet, making it the tallest in Myanmar.
Structures around the stupa
On the terrace surrounding the stupa are statues of Nat spirits and eight shrines where Buddhists pray. There is one shrine for each day of the week and two for Wednesday, that is split in two. Every shrine is associated with a planet in accordance with Eastern astrology. People pray to the shrine belonging to their birthday.
In front of the Shwemawdaw lies the top section of the pagoda that broke off during the devastating 1917 earthquake. Around the pagoda are several shrines and ornately decorated pavilions with a multi tiered Pyatthat roof. A bell on the main platform was donated by King Dhammazedi, King of the Hanthawaddy Kingdom during the late 15th century. The bell contains inscriptions made by the King.
How to get to Shwemawdaw Paya
The pagoda is found on Pagoda road near Kanbawzathadi Golden Palace, East of NH1 National Highway. A trishaw from downtown Bago to the pagoda should cost no more than 1,000 Kyat.