BOTATAUNG PAGODA

The Botataung Pagoda is a jewel of downtown Yangon

To read about my visit to the Botataung Pagoda, visit the blog here: Botataung Pagoda & Jetty For all the high-resolution photos from Botataung Pagoda: Click Here Entrance Fee: $3 USD for foreigners, free for locals; Like all Buddhist sites, shoes must be taken off before entering the compound and there is shoe-keeping service nearby Visiting Hours: The pagoda opens daily from 6:00am until around 9:00pm. Some occasions such as the full moon, the pagoda remains open until 11:00pm Location: Downtown Yangon between Strand Road and the Yangon River. The Pagoda is located in the Botataung Jetty in Botataung Township

Botataung Pagoda

The Botataung Pagoda (also spelled Botahtaung; Boetataung) translated literally to “1000 military officers” is a famous pagoda located in downtown Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma) just next to the Yangon river off of Strand Road. The pagoda, located in a jetty that shares the same name, was first built by the Mon people around the same time as was Shwedagon Pagoda. According to local belief, that’s over 2,500 years ago! Known as Kyaik-de-att in the Mon language, the pagoda is hollow within and houses what is believed to be a sacred hair of Gautama Buddha.

Botataung Pagoda

According to Burmese tradition, the pagoda was on a hillock and at this site one thousand military officers of the king were drawn up as a guard of honor to welcome the landing in Burma of the relics of the Buddha brought over from India more than two thousand years ago. An account from ancient histories of the building of the Pagoda states that the Buddhist King Sihadipa gave one of his ministers a sacred hair from the Buddha’s head and two body relics and this minister, renowned for his goodness and faith, consulted a famous religious leader and on his advice, chose the Botataung Mount on the bank of Yangon River at a distance one thousand tars (7,000 cubits) in a South-Easterly direction from the Shwedagon Pagoda and there enshrined the sacred relics.

Botataung Pagoda

The Botataung Pagoda was completely destroyed during World War II. The British RAF had launched a bombing campaign on nearby Yangon wharfs and on November 8th, 1943, the pagoda was left in “blackened ruins.” It was rebuilt after the war ended. Rebuilding of the pagoda started on the same day that the country gained independence from the UK, on January 4th, 1948. During the excavation process, a relic chamber was discovered. The chamber, measuring 20’ x 20’ and 6’ in height gradually decreasing in size towards the top and appearing like a huge pot placed up-sided down to cover completely what lay inside. Botataung Pagoda In the very center of this treasure vault was discovered a wonderful stone casket in the shape of a pagoda with a diameter of 23 inches and 39 inches high. Encircling this stone casket were figures of nats (spirits) carved out of laterite and evidently placed there to act as sentinels. The casket was immersed in mud as water had trickled into the vault during the many centuries it had been there. Inside the stone casket within the relic chamber they found various kinds of treasures: precious stones, ornaments, jewelry, terracotta plaques and images of gold, silver, brass and stone. The total number of these images recovered from within and without the relic chamber was seven hundred. The terracotta plaques, some of them in a fair state of preservation, depict Buddhist scenes and are on display throughout the pagoda. One of the terracotta plaques excavated from the relic chamber bears an image of the Lord Buddha and though affected by age and moisture, it is exceptionally important. On the reverse side are inscribed characters which are very close to the ancient Brahmani script which came from Southern India. It is a precious evidence of ancient times and has been deciphered by U Lu Pe Win, Superintendent Archaeologist of the Government of the Union of Burma. He noted that the initial word “e” from “evam vadi” shows that the script is in the manner of the ancient Mons. This is proof of the belief that the people who erected the Pagoda in ancient times were indeed the Mons. Botataung Pagoda When this cone or stone layer was removed they found another stone layer of similar shape but with a brilliant gold coating which was more representative of a pagoda in shape while its exquisite workmanship and brilliance inspired feelings of deep religious fervor in the present crowd. Some mud had even penetrated here and the sides of the base were covered. After it was washed and sifted, precious stones, gold and jewelry were discovered around the base. This second stone casket was then removed and inside they found a small pagoda of pure gold standing on a silver salver or base and beside this golden pagoda was a carved stone image measuring 4½ inches. When the gold Pagoda was lifted up, a tiny gold cylinder of 3⁄4 inches (19 mm) in length with a diameter of 5⁄12 inches (11 mm) was found. In this tiny cylinder, two small body relics each the size of a mustard seeds appeared and are believed to be a Sacred Hair of the Buddha. This hair was coiled round and fastened with a little lacquer on which were traces of gold plaster. The new pagoda was built in the original design and measures a height of 131 feet 8 inches (40.13 m), a base of 96 feet (29 m) x 96 feet (29 m). The main attraction is the stupa’s hollow inside, which has a mirrored maze-like walkway lined with glass showcases containing many ancient relics and artifacts that were sealed inside the earlier pagoda. It is rather disorienting as from floor to ceiling it is covered in bright gold. The pagoda hosts the Hta Ma Ne food festival – famous for sticky rice with coconut and sesame seeds.

Botataung Pagoda

Botataung Pagoda

At the side of the pagoda, there is Nat (spirit) pavilion, and a monument to Bo Bo Gyi, believed to be the guard of the pagoda. These pavilions are busy with worshippers every day, offering a coconuts and bananas. There is also a bridge over a pond with fish and turtles. Across from the Botataung Pagoda on the Botataung Jetty is a shrine to the nat Amadaw Mya Nan Nwe (translated literally as “angel of whispers).” Also called Thaiknanshin (translated as “keeper of the treasure trove),” the prominent nat is said to be the spirit of a Shan and Bamar royal descendant born on December 22nd, 1897. She contributed to religious works and was a key figure in the rebuilding of the Botataung Pagoda after World War II. Having died in 1957, she has become a revered figure in Myanmar and had a shrine dedicated in her honor in 1990. A popular shrine among her devoted followers, it attracts many visitors from Thailand as well as she gained popularity through a television program that featured her biography.

Botataung Pagoda

Botataung Pagoda Botataung Pagoda To read about my visit to the Botataung Pagoda, visit the blog here: Botataung Pagoda & Jetty For all the high-resolution photos from Botataung Pagoda: Click Here

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Resources: Botataung Pagoda Wiki

Phillip Harbor

Author, blogger, photographer, all-around world traveler

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Israeli Abroad

IsraeliAbroad (formerly SidepieceDiplomat) was started as a passion project by amateur photographer Phillip Harbor as he travels from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Yangon, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and throughout the world. Named for the adventure, the photoblog seeks to give followers a unique insight into life from a nation that was until recently closed off from the rest of the world for more than half a century. This blog is half photo-half information-half experience-driven. Yes that’s more than a whole… and yes that makes about as much sense as anything else you can find on this half of the globe! Feel free to follow us on social media and right here on the blog as we explore the incredible wonders of Myanmar. Updates will come as regularly as possible and don’t forget to share with your friends!

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IsraeliAbroad was started as a passion project by photographer Phillip Harbor as he travels from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Yangon, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and throughout the world. Named for the adventure, the photoblog seeks to give followers a unique insight into life from a nation that was until recently closed off from the rest of the world for more than half a century. This blog is half photo-half information-half experience-driven. Yes that’s more than a whole… and yes that makes about as much sense as anything else you can find on this half of the globe! Feel free to follow us on social media and right here on the blog as we explore the incredible wonders of Myanmar. Updates will come as regularly as possible and don’t forget to share with your friends!