Yangon was established as a city in 1752 by King Alaungphaya, the founder of the first Myanmar Empire. Until that time, our modernized and industrialized city used to be a fishing village. Under reign of British government from 1824 to 1885 and it used to be the administrative city of British colonies. As Yangon was operated by the British, you can see the remains of colonial buildings; some of them were demolished and substituted with other modern buildings. Hence, you can enjoy the mixture of the two kinds of infrastructure. The grand buildings of Yangon are City Hall, which is located in the heart of Yangon, the Supreme Court, High court; General Post Office, Strand Hotel, Port Authority Building, Custom House and Railway Administrative Building are fabulous memories of the British reign era. There are 6 million people living in this vast 350sq km city. Yangon is charming with the sights of the Shwedagon Pagoda, the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda with reclining Buddha statue, the Sule Pagoda as the heart of the city, Botahtaung Pagoda which is existed at the mouth of Yangon river, Bogyoke market formerly known as Scott market.
Currently, Yangon is tremendously changing as different countries have come and made investment in Myanmar. You can see numerous vehicles increasing on the road everyday. However, the city has a great attraction, which will certainly be preserved in spite of the changing skyline.
Glamour of Shwe Dagon Pagoda
The history of the ancient town of Dagon is closely associated with the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. More than 2,500 years ago it was known as Asitanjana and Okkala of the Mon country. Two merchant brothers Tapussa and Bhallika went on a trading journey to India. They saw Lord Buddha seated in blissful Enlightenment under a Linlun tree (Buchanania latifolia). It was the 49th day after His Enlightenment, The two brothers filled with adoration and offered honey cakes, which the Buddha partook. Then they beseeched for a relic for them to worship. The Buddha passed His hand over the head and there were eight strands of hair that He bestowed to them. On their arrival back, King Okkalapa was pleased to hold a grand celebration in honour of the Sacred Relics. Then the Singuttara hillock was chosen to build the Shwe Dagon Pagoda for enshrining the relics. On excavation they found the water dipper of Kakusandha, the bathing robe of Konagamana and the staff of Kassapa the three preceding Buddhas. Hence the Shwe Dagon Pagoda was enshrined the relics of the Four Buddhas. The importance of Okkala grew with the popularity of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda as a pilgrimage centre and gradually the town was referred to as Dagon. Centuries later, as pilgrims decreased the pagoda precincts overgrew with shrubs and trees. After the propagation of Buddhism gained grounds and firmly established, King Sirimasoka of Suvanna Bhumi (Thaton) had it cleared and built a befitting pagoda raising it higher. When king Banya U (1353-1385) came to the throne of Hanthawady (Bago) he had it enlarged and raised it higher. His descendents the successive kings also reconstructed and enlarged it and raising it still higher. Queen Shin Saw Pu (1453-1472), the grand daughter of King Banya U, brought a great host of skilled workers and had the pagoda enlarged and raised. She donated gold to her weight and was the first to have gilded the pagoda with gold. Her successor and son-in-law King Dhammazedi, continued the good works and among other things donated gold the weight of himself and his queen for the gilding works. He had a huge bell cast 8 cubits wide at the mouth and 12 cubits high. It was installed in a hall at the eastern entrance. This huge bell was carried away by Filipe de Britto e Nicote to melt down and cast into cannons. His attempt did not succeed, as the bell was lost in the Yangon River where it lies submerged still. Various Myanmar kings also made major improvements upon it and around it, installing new Htis (Glorious Crown) and gilding the pagoda and building rest houses and prayer halls. King Hsin Byu Shin (1763-1776) donated a new Hti and so did King Min Done (1753-1778), the second-last king of the Kone Baung Dynasty. The present government regaled the pagoda from top to bottom and installed a new Hti in April 1999. From the covered stairways to the numerous structures and the pagoda itself, everything about the Shwe Dagon is permeated with beauty and art born of loving veneration. It is the holiest place of worship to Buddhists all over the world and practically the whole complex is a work of art. Most of the buildings around the pagoda are decorated with the best specimens of Myanmar painting and sculpture so that a few hour’s study of the pagoda and its environs can give you a fairly good idea of Myanmar arts and crafts. Today, the pagoda has a height of 326 feet and a circumference of 1420 feet at the base.
Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott): your shopping paradise in Yangon
Myanmar arts and crafts, mostly hand-made, are the best souvenirs, silver ware, brassware, silk and cotton fabric, traditional garments, and shoulder bags are some of the favorite items. World renowned Myanmar rubies, sapphires, jade and pearls are also available at Myanmar Gems centre and other licensed Jewellery Shops. Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott Market) is the largest market in Yangon and it is one of the best places for souvenir shopping. It is a fantastic prewar structure in Yangon known as Scott Market before. One can see the colonial architecture and the floors inside are set with cobble stones. The market has wide varieties of many things for all kinds of shoppers. Bogyoke Market is the best place for colorful paintings, handicrafts, traditional costumes and you can’t stop shopping and buying traditional souvenirs. The market opens everyday from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm (except Monday and public holidays). Have a wonderful shopping time and shop till you drop.
A Pagoda standing right at the heart of the Yangon is the famous Sule pagoda. The place of the pagoda is used as a milestone from which locations are measure towards North. Close to the Pagoda are the City Hall and the Independence Monument.
Karaweik Hall is one of the landmarks of Yangon, standing in the Kandawgyi Lake (Royal Lake). This modern architecture is built in the shape of the mythical creature Karaweik bird. It has 3 floors including a ceremonial hall. This wholly gilded building is about 20 years old. The barge of Karaweik hall is always lively with its banquet displaying the
Located on Pyay Road, the National Museum has five floors of exhibits. It displays the Lion Throne, the Elephant Throne, the Royal Regalia, manuscripts, paintings, etc. Located on Pyay Road, about a few minutes away from downtown, the newly built five-storied museum will let you know the glory of Myanmar. It exhibits the Lion Throne of the last Myanmar king, royal regalia of 19th century Myanmar kingdom, artifacts of ancient eras, articles of cultural heritage and archaeological value, art and craft articles, weaponry, musical instruments and paintings.
It is a shrine with hollow passages inside to walk through. The name Botahtaung means “a thousand military leaders”. This pagoda was named after the 1,000 military leaders who escorted the sacred hair relics of Buddha, brought from India over two thousand ago. Inside the pagoda, there are glass showcases containing many ancient relics and donated artifacts sealed but visible inside the shrine. The original shrine was destroyed during the World War II bombing. Present day structure is built over the old original one. Above this interesting interior, the golden pagoda spire rises to 132 feet (40 meters).
Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda
The Chauk-Htat-Kyi Pagoda is famous for its huge image of Reclining Buddha, built in 1966 replacing the old image built in 1907 by Sir Hpo Thar. It measures 65 meters and is housed in an iron structure with corrugated iron sheets roof of six layers. Hence, it is generally referred to as the six-tiered pagodas. The heavy cost of this construction was entirely donated by the people. The image is larger than the image of the Reclining Buddha at Shwe Thar Hlyaung Pagoda in Bago. The monasteries in the vicinity of this pagoda accommodate over hundreds of monks who study Buddhist Scriptures from the senior and qualified monks. The entire cost of maintenance is met from the people’s donations. Visitors to this pagoda can see the 108 distinguishing symbols engraved on the soles of Buddha’s image.
Kaba Aye Pagoda and Maha Pasana Guha
The building of Kaba Aye meaning World Peace started in 1950 and was completed in 1952. The 34 metre high pagoda also measure 34 metre around its base. Close to Kaba Aye Pagoda is the Maha Pasana Guha (The Great Cave), and extraordinary artificial cave specifically constructed to hold the Sixth Buddhist Synod( 1954-56). The cave was modeled on the Satta Panni Cave in India where the First Buddhist Synod took place three months after the demise of Gautama Buddha. The cave is still used to hold grand religious ceremonies such as World Buddhist conference.
Myanmar Gems Museum
Located on Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Mayangon, and Yangon. This Gems Mart display the whole range of Myanmar ruby, sapphire, Period and a variety of assorted colored stones, jade, pearls in lots or embedded in exquisite jewelry, gold ware, silverware and jade figurines. These are sold in Myanmar Kyat, US$ or foreign exchange certificates.
British War Cemerty
Located at Htaukkyant, about 32 km from Yangon on the road to Bago, there is a memorial cemetery of Allied soldiers who died in the Burma Campaign during World War II. The cemetery’s beautifully kept compound has 27,000 tombstones of fallen Common Wealth and Allied soldiers.
The World’s Largest Marble Buddha Image
The Loka Chantha Abhaya Labha Muni Buddha Image is enshrined on the Minn Dhamma Hillock. In 2003, the huge marble alms bowl the largest of its kind, was carved out of a monolithic Sagyin marble. Within the walking distance from Minn Dhamma Hill, there is Elephant House where the total of three white elephants are kept.
A small town on the Twante Canal and centre for pottery manufacturing and cotton weaving and it is two hours away by boat from Yangon located at 24km. The boat trip itself is a joy and a chance to see rural life along the canal, which was dug during the time of British rule in Myanmar a ride on the canal offers contrasting images; from the buzzing chaos in Yangon to the provincial calmness of the countryside only a few minutes outside the capital. It is noted for its pottery production and cotton weaving industries and it also affords visitors and opportunity to see life along the canal. Another interesting site to visit is an old Mon Pagoda.
Thanlyin is located on the bank of the Bago River on the other side of Yangon. It is used to be an important trading centre in the 17th century under the Portuguese colonial administration. The old buildings still stand as evidence of the Portuguese occupation. The 1822 meters long bridge spanning the Bago River made possible the 45 minutes drive from Yangon. Places of interest are Kyaik-Khauk pagoda and Kayauktan Pagoda (Mid-Stream-Pagoda) in the creek is worth visiting. Hand-feed fish that come right up to you from the water.
It lies on Ottaringa Hill, Thanlyin, on southern bank of Bago River, at the confluence of Yangon and Bago Rivers. In Sakarit 241 it was built by ashin Khawla and Thaton King Sula Thirima Thawka enshrining six sacred hair relics of Buddha and relics obtained from the King of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). It was known as Khawlaka Pagoda. Later it came to be called Kyaikkhauk Pagoda. It is over 2000 years old, one of the most noted in Myanmar, revered by kings and the people of successive periods.
Kyaik-hmaw-wun Midstream Pagoda
It lies in Kyaunktan Township, Yangon Division. In Sakarit 215 King Bawgathena founded the Pada nation. In 238, the king enshrined the sacred hair relic and other relics given him by mentor hermit and built a pagoda seven cubits high on a rock platform chosen by the hermit. It was called Kyaik-hmyaw Gadaw Pagoda. The name of the pagoda has since been Kyaik-hmaw-wun Midstream Pagoda. There are many sampans: a small-powered boat at river banks to the island shrine. You can have fun riding those sampans and making a short tour in Kyauktan.