07 March 2015

Meandering in Myanmar: Shwemawdaw Paya in Bago

After spending a full day sight-seeing in Yangon, I opted to go out and do a daytrip the next day. So I went to Bago. This is a city 80 kilometers northeast of Yangon, and is the capital of Bago Region. This is a dusty provincial town, but it does contain several religious and cultural sites of interest. I got off the bus and was greeted by motorcycle taxis. After a little bit of negotiation, I told him I wanted to go to Shwemawdaw Paya, which was my first stop in the city.

Contrary to popular belief, this stupa is indeed the tallest stupa in Myanmar, and not Shwedagon Paya in Yangon. Shwedagon Paya just is much more known. But perhaps because of its popularity, Shwedagon Paya is also more chaotic, more people, and more activities happening. So it was a refreshing change to be here in Shwemawdaw Paya and not deal with crowds, tour guides, and such. People who were there were simply people who were enjoying a religious moment, so to speak. But yes, Shwemawdaw Paya is 375 feet tall, but Shwedagon Paya only is 321 feet.

This stupa was built in the 10th Century, yet due to several earthquakes, it has been destroyed, and then rebuilt several times. In fact, you can spot some remaining old pieces in some of the photos above. And yes, it does contain hair and tooth relics from the Buddha.

Of course, like Shwedagon Paya, this is a whole complex, with other buildings that house other objects. Unlike the stupa, they are quite pointy not round. Some of the buildings house Buddha statues, while others hold prayer spaces. And yes, gold is definitely quite used here. It's definitely the most prominent color in the religious sites found in Myanmar.

Finally, I have seen some nuns here. While monks are more prominent, there are also nuns, but they don't get the respect that monks get. They also shave their heads, but instead of wearing the burgundy robe, they were a pink one. My two photos above show a couple of examples.

So, I think I prefer this place better than Shwedagon Paya, mostly because the crowd is definitely thinner here. After checking out this place, I headed across town and visited a palace, which is what my next entry is about.


  1. You rarely take picture of people, I think it's a first here! I have never seen pink robes, although I have seen nuns in Asia. Mmm... now I wonder what they wore, I forgot but I would have remembered pink!

    1. Zhu,

      Yes, I rarely take pictures of people. It's because I hate people as subjects, perhaps because I don't have a camera that is good enough to take good photos of moving subjects. :/