All that glitters isn’t necessarily gold.
Except in the case of the Shwesandaw Pagoda, it is.
Shwesandaw Pagoda, Pyay
And yes, you heard right. We’re not talking about the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in bustling Yangon.
We’re talking about the even taller Shwesandaw Pagoda in the country town of Pyay (it’s three feet higher than the Shwedagon). And it’s mighty striking.
Also, just to confuse you a little further, this isn’t the same Shwesandaw Pagoda in Bagan. There are thousands of fabulous pagodas and temples in Bagan – and you guessed it, there’s the exact same name of pagoda there (which also happens to be the tallest pagoda in Bagan).
We visited the Pyay pagoda, gilded in gold leaf, while cruising up Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady River (aka Irrawaddy River).
The pagoda is said to date back to 589 BC and contain four strands of the Buddha’s hair – hence its name “Shwesandaw,” meaning the “golden hair relics.”
There are 64 smaller pagodas surrounding the main bell-shaped stupa, which rises from a terraced base.
To reach the pagoda’s platform, we took an elevator up.
From the back side of the pagoda, we had wonderful views of the imposing Sehtatgyi Buddha (literally “10-storey Buddha”) rising up over the treeline opposite.
The Shwesandaw was the first gold pagoda we toured in Myanmar (Burma). And it caused our jaws to drop.
It was hard to take pictures that captured the sheer size and scale of the place. But this is an important pilgrimage site – one that is worth visiting. And one of the best Myanmar temples to see.
Map of Shwesandaw Pagoda
Photo credits: 3 to 8 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 1 and 9 Flickr, Recliner