Shwedagon Pagoda: Golden light shining upon Yangon
Wang Le

Shwedagon Pagoda, also known as the Golden Pagoda, is the most sacred site for Myanmar's Buddhists, who make up about 90 percent of the country's population. 

Located on a hill in downtown Yangon, the 99-meter-high gold plated pagoda lights up the whole city, wowing visitors from around the world. 

What makes it glitter is not just the hundreds of gold plates on the surface. The tip of the stupa is said to contain over 4,000 diamonds, including a 76 carat diamond on the top. 

The pagoda is believed to enshrine the sacred relics from four previous Buddhas. A legend says over 2,500 years ago, Gautama Buddha gave two traders eight strands of his hair and instructed them to enshrine the hair in a hill in what later became Yangon, where relics from previous reincarnations of Buddha were kept. 

The pagoda is located on a hill in Yangon. /VCG Photo

The pagoda is located on a hill in Yangon. /VCG Photo

The morning prayer service at the pagoda. /VCG Photo

The morning prayer service at the pagoda. /VCG Photo

The pagoda has been inseparable from local people's life. /VCG Photo

The pagoda has been inseparable from local people's life. /VCG Photo

The pagoda is believed to enshrine relics from four previous Buddhas. /VCG Photo

The pagoda is believed to enshrine relics from four previous Buddhas. /VCG Photo

The 99-meter-high pagoda can almost been seen from anywhere in the city. /VCG Photo

The 99-meter-high pagoda can almost been seen from anywhere in the city. /VCG Photo

Dress code is required for visiting the pagoda. According to Myanmar Times, last month, the trustees of the pagoda banned short trousers and skirts that show knees from the pagoda platform. Staff will help visitors to change to "longyi" and full-length dresses before entering. 

Some historians believe the pagoda was built between the 6th and 10th centuries AD. Since its first day, the pagoda has endured earthquakes, cyclones, invasions, and wars. 

Devotees and monks are often busy washing statues, offering flowers, worshiping and meditating in the pagoda. As a center for both religious and community activities, it is inseparable from Myanmar people's life.

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