Shwezigon – The first and most sacred temple in Myanmar
Deep in the forest, among sacred ancient temples, one of them can be said is Shwezigon, a famous temple of Myanmar’s ancient and solemn religious architecture. Let’s explore the temple in this post today!
Shwezigon is considered the first golden temple in Myanmar. It was built by King Anawrahta in 1059 but was completed by King Kyansittha in 1102. Shwezigon is also the holiest temple in Myanmar.
Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon makes visitors admire, amazed and praise for the ability to build the temple with the magnificence of thousands of diamonds as well as the entire pagoda is gold. However, not everyone knows that the Shwedagon Pagoda was not the first pagoda in Myanmar. Its shape is based on the Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan. Shwezigon is the first gold-plated temple and is considered the holiest in Myanmar.
Shwezigon was built under the reign of King Anawrahta, who founded the kingdom of Bagan, in 1059 but until his son, Kyansittha continued his work and succeeded in 1102. Over a thousand years, Shwezigon Temple has been beared many damages, especially in the earthquake in 1975. But then the people of Myanmar have worked together, contributed to the restoration and inlaid the whole temple with gold (according to some documents previously only the top is gold plated). King Anawrahta built the Shwezigon Temple to store the relics of the Buddha as known as Sarira.
Unlike many other temples in Bagan, which were built on the plains, Shwezigon Temple is built on a sand dune. The meaning of Shwezigon is Sand Pagoda due to this reason.
Legend has it that King Anawrahta used a white elephant, in front of wearing the Buddha’s Sarira, and declared that where the elephant would rest, he would build the temple. And finally the elephant stopped at the sand dunes and Shwezigon built the Main building from that place.
Shwezigon Temple is considered the prototype for all future temples in Myanmar. The pagoda is located on a small sand hill, near the Ayeyawady River, with 4 gates turning in four different directions, with long corridors. At the gates, there is two huge white mammals statue projecting the temple. The Shwezigon temple is said to contain the relics of the ancient bones of the Buddha as well as huge Buddha statues. There are dozens of small temples surrounding the main tower.
The four main towers of the Shwezigon pagoda are gilded, with four golden lions at the top of the tower, it can be found in most temples of Myanmar. In the temple there are many statues of Buddha from the 12th century, pillars with inscriptions in Mon said the process of forming the temple.
Like other famous temples in Myanmar, Shwezigon also suffered from the devastation of nature. The earthquake in 1975 caused much damage to the pagoda, especially the tower and top of the roof. But with the contribution of the government as well as the indigenous people, tourists, the temple was restored and repaired as it is today
According to the guide’s guide, every year, the people of Myanmar proceeded to plaster the golden exterior of the temple. And thanks to this layer of gold, visitors will feel very virtual when the sun shines in or at night when dozens of lights or candles are lit up.
Shwezigon is considered a must-visit temple for any visitor who visits Bagan, along with Ananda, Dhammayangyi, the king’s palace, etc. It will be a big mistake for the tourist for exploring Myanmar temples, pagodas without visiting Shwezigon. Hopefully, through the article, the visitors will more understanding of the sacred temple as well as the beautiful Myanmar country.
Today, the long corridors leading to the temple entrance are filled with local people selling souvenirs. One of them is the unique sand painting, the sandman dye and use them to paint the photos of Bagan which are very unique. Of course, like many other temples in Myanmar, you are only allowed to go barefoot into the temple without socks. To visit and better understand the temple, it is best to travel or tour tourists to learn more about the Shwezigon Temple.