Shwezigon Pagoda Description:
The Shwezigon Pagoda is a Buddhist shrine thought to contain bone and tooth relics from Gautama Buddha, and is considered to be the prototypical stupa design from which all later Buddhist shrines in Myanmar were drawn.
In the 11th century King Anawrahta was consolidating his hold over the increasingly powerful and militarily dominant Pagan Kingdom. Having conquered much of what would later be called the country of Burma (now Myanmar), the king wanted to unify his kingdom with a national identity that would transcend the differences of the numerous ethnicities that he ruled.
King Anawratha was converted to Theravada Buddhism by Shin Arahan, a monk from one of the Pagan Kingdom’s vassal states, and began a series of political and economic changes that would affect the region’s development for centuries.
After requesting Buddha relics from India, the king began the construction of the first Burmese stupa, naming it Shwezigon. The Kingdom of Pagan would use the Shwezigon shrine as the prototype for the innumerable Buddhist stupas constructed over the following centuries as Buddhism continued to grow and meld with local religious practices, like the worship of nature spirits called Nats.
Best Time to Visit Shwezigon Pagoda:
The best weather to explore this region of Myanmar falls between November and May during the dry season. The rainy season, June to October, is often marked by showers in the mornings and afternoons, which help revive the countryside’s plant life.
How to get to Shwezigon Pagoda:
The ancient Buddhist monuments and shrines found throughout Myanmar used Shwezigon as a template. Visiting the pagoda opens a window into the intriguing mix of Buddhism and animist religious practices still found in Myanmar today. We consider Shwezigon Pagoda a must-see while on a Myanmar tour.
Shwezigon Pagoda Highlights:
The Shwezigon Pagoda lies about four miles north of the ancient temple city of Bagan. Guests on luxury tours of Myanmar who wish to visit this historic site are chauffeured by a private vehicle to the area from nearby Bagan.
Buddhist religious tenants requires visitors to dress in clothing that modestly covers their shoulders, arms, and knees while on holy ground. Visitors may also be required to remove their shoes before entering certain areas within monasteries, temples, or shrines.