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The Shwezigon Pagoda is one of the oldest and most impressive monuments of Bagan. Most noticeable is the huge gold plated pagoda glimmering in the sun. The design of the Shwezigon Pagoda has been copied many times across Burma over the centuries. Several shrines and temple buildings have been added to the complex since construction of the stupa in the year 1090. As the pagoda enshrines a number of sacred Buddhist relics, it is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
Exploring the Amazing Shwezigon Pagoda
The Shwezigon Pagoda itself is oriented to the east and is built of solid sandstone blocks. Its graceful golden 'bell' reaches a height of 160 feet, supported on a square base 160 feet on a side, an octagonal intermediate base, and three square terraces. The golden bell is decorated with various designs, encircled by several thick moldings, and is topped with the traditional jeweled hti (umbrella spire) to symbolize sovereignty. It is lit up impressively at night. It becomes the prototype architectural feature for many stupas built in the then Burma (now Myanmar). It has features of staircases, gates, and a richly ornamented spire fitted with a large golden umbrella type finial embedded with gems
Shwezigon Paya is enclosed by an outer wall, about 750 feet on each side, which is pierced by four gates. There are many other shrines, stupas and structures within the wall, some of which have been recently added. Among the most notable of these outer monuments are two inscribed pillars placed by King Kyanzittha, which recount the pagoda's history in the Mon language — but interestingly do not mention the pagoda's founder, King Anawrahta. The pillars are on the eastern side of the complex. Several structures are topped with a Sikhara, a tower like structure originating from North India. Unlike the Sikhara of the Ananda temple that is one of Bagan's best known landmarks, these Sikharas are not gilded. The complex also contains a small whitewashed pagoda and several structures where Buddha images are enshrined.
Another things to do at Shwezigon Pagoda is visiting the shrines around its area. Each shrine (Kyg-gu Taik) contains an 11-foot, Gupta-style standing bronze Buddha dating from 1102. The largest original statues in Bagan, these represent the four Buddhas who attained enlightenment in this world (Gautama being the last of the four). All display the same symbolic hand gestures: the vitarka mudra (exposition) with the left and abhaya mudra (no fear) with the right. Southeast of the platform is the hall of the 37 Nats, with figures of the 37 traditional spirits revered by the Burmese since before Buddhism. The figures are not the originals, but the large stone figure of Thagyamin is. Thagyamin is the king of the nat and an appropriation of the Hindu god Indra.
How to Get Tickets?
Shwezigon Pagoda Tickets and Passes are taken at the entrance, and if you bring cameras and videocams you have to pay to carry them around and take pictures inside. Entry fees is 5$ per person.
How To Get Around?
The best way to travel around the pagodas and enjoy Shwezigon Pagoda Tour is with a horse cart driven by locals. Or you also can rent a bike from your hotel or the sites.
What Should I Wear?
To do Shwezigon Pagoda tour, you should wear proper and dress modestly to respect the local culture and custom. If you are female you will be requested to cover your shoulders and knees. You also have to take off your footwear when you enter the temple.
Best Time to Visit
Because of the pagoda's great religious significance for Burmese Buddhism, the Shwezigon Festival in November/December attracts pilgrims from throughout Myanmar. For those who are interested in Myanmar travel, the Shwezigon Festival in November/Decembe will be a great chance to explore the culture of Bagan because of its great religious significance for Burmese Buddhism. The festival lasts for over two weeks and the exact dates vary each year, depending upon the Myanmar Calendar.
Will I Need a Guide?
With so many temples to see in Bagan it can be an advantage to use a tour guide with local knowledge of the area. They know better on their region and sites than books or what we can advise. Especially if you like to hear the local history as well as a lot of dates and names of those who built these great pagodas and stupas, then it would be very worth it to hire a guide. However, it also does not matter if you want to have Shwezigon Pagoda tour independently without any guides to enjoy the beauty of old bagan temples.
How To Get There?
Shwezigon Paya is 4.9km (15 minutes driving) from Nyaung U Airport, Bagan. Private taxi with air conditioned is available at the airport. You can also hire an e-motorbike at many shops in Bagan to reach this place.
When you do Shwezigon Pagoda Tour, it's better to ignore everyone approaching you saying that you can buy the tickets from them. It's advised to go to the official place and buy tickets with officers.