Officially known as Shwedagon Zedi Daw but also fondly referred to as the Great Dagon Pagoda;Shwedagon Paya is a 99 metres gilded pagoda and stupa located in Yangon, Burma. To avoid confusion (which I was previously susceptible to also), Burma is presently known as Myanmar.
Back to our topic of the day...Shwedagon Paya is 2,500 years old. It was built to enshrine strands of Buddha's hair and other holy relics. It is located west of the Royal Lake on a 114 -acre piece of land. Amazingly, it is one of the most sacred places for the Burmese Buddhists.
The pagoda is decorated with golden plates, and the stupa is encrusted with a whopping 4531 diamonds with the largest being a 73-carat diamond. Together with Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Shwedagon Paya is a religious wonder and monument. It is a symbol of the Myanmar heritage in architecture, art and sculptures. The pagoda boasts hundreds of temples, stupas and statues. The common sight here is huge number of Buddhism devotees, worshippers and monks doing their daily prayers and meditation.
The Pagoda is open throughout the year from 4 A.M to 4 P.M except on Waxing Day of Tabaung (around March) and Waxing Day of Wakhaung (June) when it is open 24 hours. To get into the Pagoda, you will part with a paltry fee of $5. There are strict dress codes observed here (in reverence of the holy site). Tourists are advised to dress modestly - and if unsure - just dress conservatively. The destination is accessible through any public transport.
The Shwedagon Pagoda is much more than a religious site. It is a museum that exhibits the best of Myanmar art, history and architecture. It also seeks to inculcate the Buddhism way of life to all its visitors. The management at the Pagoda aims to inspire people to live more positively and achieve their life dreams through discipline, dedication and hard work.
If you have never been to an authentic Buddhist temple, then the temples in Shwedagon Paya will leave you thoroughly inspired. Buddhists are some of the most dedicated devotees and they go to a lot of effort to make their temples as elaborate as possible.