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Myanmars Most Beautiful Sacred Sites

Glittering stupas, stepped temples, and candlelit monasteries reveal a long spiritual tradition

 Myanmars Most Beautiful Sacred Sites

AUNG SAKKYA PAGODA

PHOTOGRAPH BY LEMAIRE STEPHANE/HEMIS.FR, GETTY IMAGES

Dominating Monywa’s skyline, the 400-foot-tall Aung Sakkya pagoda is surrounded by more than a thousand smaller pagodas that contain scores of Buddha images. Monywa is also known for its Maha Bodhi Tahtaung site, where giant reclining and standing Buddha statues loom over the hillside

BAGAN

PHOTOGRAPH BY NATAPONG SUPALERTSOPHON, GETTY IMAGES

On the left bank of the Irrawaddy River, hundreds of Buddhist shrines sprinkle the landscape. Bagan is the former capital of Myanmar and once served as one of the most important centers of Buddhist learning. Stupas—tall, bell-shaped domes—are characteristic of Buddhist architecture in the region. The apex of the stupa represents a sacred mountain, and is designed to hold the relics of saints.

HSINBYUME PAGODA

PHOTOGRAPH BY KEREN SU, GETTY IMAGES

The ivory-colored Hsinbyume Pagoda near the city of Mingun is said to be modeled off the mythological Mount Meru. According to Buddhist cosmology, the mountain is the center of the universe

PHOTOGRAPH BY FEBRUARY, GETTY IMAGES

Teetering precariously on the edge of a cliff, Kyaikhtiyo pagoda, also known as the Golden Rock, is a significant Buddhist pilgrimage site in Mon State, Myanmar. A small stupa sits atop a giant bolder where male pilgrims continuously add gold leaf to its surface. According to legend, the rock is held in place by a single hair of the Buddha

small water garden

PHOTOGRAPH BY IMAGEBROKER/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

In the middle of a small water garden surrounded by a cloak of mountains, Kyauk Kalap seems to defy gravity. A small pagoda is perched atop a steep rock formation, reflected in the surrounding water to create striking scene

ceremonial boats carry visitors over Inle Lake

PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTIAN KOBER, ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Every fall ceremonial boats carry visitors over Inle Lake, where the Phaung Daw Oo pagoda is perched on the shore. The shrine houses several gold Buddha statues, which are ferried across the lake on a replica of a royal barge during the Phaung Daw Oo festival. Hundreds of boats join the procession and large crowds watch from the shore

lush mountains

PHOTOGRAPH BY JEAN-PHILIPPE TOURNUT, GETTY IMAGES

In the midst of Hpa An’s lush mountains, a large natural cavern is carved into the landscape. The darkened cave contains dozens of Buddha statues, pagodas, and wall carvings

SHWEDAGON PAGODA

PHOTOGRAPH BY BETTINA FLITNER/LAIF, REDUX

Several tons of gold leaf and thousands of diamonds and precious stones blanket Yangon’s glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist sites. The massive golden stupa, believed to hold relics of former Buddhas, flares to life under the light of the rising and setting sun. Archaeologists believe the original stupa was built between the 6th and 10th centuries, however it was likely rebuilt several times because of earthquakes in the region. The sprawling complex now covers 114 acres

References : Nationalgeographic

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