Imagine, if you can, a golden shrine that has slowly grown in size over the past 2,500 years or so due to the loving application by countless hands of gold leaf and gems. This is the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon in the Golden Land of Burma, now known to much of the world as Myanmar. It is truly a wonder that must be seen to be believed.
Shwedagon Pagoda is definitely not just a tourist attraction; its chief visitors have long been the Buddhist faithful from all over the country who come to worship and pray. However a visitor of any (or no) religious affiliation will find the stunning beauty and architectural marvels of this edifice to be well worth the trip. It is the repository of many centuries of art, architecture and history.
Shwedagon came into existence in 308 BC and has a rather fabulous history, chronicled in the exhibits on view in different parts of the shrine. According to records kept, the lower section of the stupa is plated with more than 8,600 bars of solid gold, the upper section with more than 13,000 of the same. The spire on top rises 99 metres from the top of its 51-metre hill overlooking the city, and is embedded with thousands of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and golden bells.
During the day the golden dome dazzles the eye, and at night it is always lit from within and without; no matter when you see it, Shwedagon is an awesome sight. Remember that this is a sacred place for the people of Myanmar; bare feet and conservative clothing are a must when visiting the shrine.