photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Jean-Marc MICHEL | profile | all galleries >> Burma >> Aungban >> Burma >> Yangon tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Yangon

Yangon is the capital and with 4 million inhabitants also the largest city Myanmars. Here you can feel nothing of the trouble and hectic of other Asian metropolis. In the meantime there are already more cars and even some multi stored buildings. But the city retains their morbid colonial charm.The most famous attraction and the landmark of the country here is naturally the Shwedagong-Pagoda, which their nearly 100 m high golden Stupa. It is situated over the old part of the town. A dream in gold and jewels, the top of the Stupa is decorated with over 5000 rubies and diamonds!
I was very impressed from the tendencyful atmosphere around the holiest pagoda Myanmars. Everywhere I saw praying people kneel down with large devotion in front of the Buddha statues. I could not take my eyes from these impressing scenes.
In the centre of the city Yangons, around the Sule pagoda there are still some old, decay and moss-grown colonial buildings, that remember of the old, colonial time of Yangon.
You can see the omnipresent markets because there are no shops and shopping malls like in other Asian metropolis, everything takes place and is offered on the sidewalks. Here everything is sold and/or repaired which is necessary for the daily life.

The Shwedagon Paya: officially titled Shwedagon Zedi Daw is a 98 meter gilded stupa located in Yangon, Myanmar. The Paya lies to the west of the Royal Lake on Singuttara Hill thus dominating the skyline of the city. It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese with relics of the past four Buddhas enshrined within, namely the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Konagamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight hairs of Gautama, the historical Buddha.

History: Legend has it that the Shwedagon Paya is 2500 years old. Archeologists believe the stupa was actually built sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries by the Mon, but this is a very controversial issue because according to the records by Buddhist monks it was built before Lord Buddha died in BC 486. The story of Shwedagon Paya begins with two merchant brothers meeting the Lord Gautama Buddha and receiving eight of the Buddha's hairs to be enshirned in Burma. The two brothers made their way to Burma and with the help of the local king found Singuttara Hill where other Buddha relics had been enshrined. When the hairs were taken from their golden casket to be enshrined some incredible things happened: There was a tumult among men and spirits ... rays emitted by the Hairs penetrated up to the heavans above and down to hell ... the blind beheld objects ... the deaf heard sounds ... the dumb spoke distinctly ... the earth quaked ... the winds of the ocean blew ... Mount Meru shook ... lightning flashed ... gems rained down until they were knee deep ... all trees of the Himalayas, though not in season, bore blossoms and fruit.
The stupa fell into disrepair until the 14th century when King Binnya U of Bago had the stupa rebuilt to a height of 18 meters. It was rebuilt several times and reached its current height of 98 meters in the 15th century. A series of earthquakes during the next centuries caused damage. The worst damage came from a 1768 earthquake that brought down the top of the stupa and it was raised to its current state by King Hsinbyushin (lit. Lord of the White Elephant) of Konbaung Dynasty. A new hti or crown was donated by King Mindon in 1871 after the annexation of Lower Burma by the British.

Design: There are four entrances (mouk) to the Paya that lead up a flight of steps to the platform (yin byin) on Singuttara Hill. The eastern and southern approaches have vendors selling books, good luck charms, Buddha images, candles, gold leaf, incense sticks, prayer flags, streamers, miniature umbrellas and flowers. Two giant chinthe (leogryphs, mythical lions) guard the southern entrance and the image in the shrine at the top of the steps is that of the second Buddha, Konagamana. The base or plinth of the stupa is made of bricks covered with gold plates. Above the base are terraces (pyissayan) that only monks and men can access. Next is the bell-shaped part (khaung laung bon) of the stupa. Above that is the turban (baung yit), then the inverted almsbowl (thabeik), inverted and upright lotus petals (kya hmauk kya hlan), the banana bud (nga pyaw bu) and then the crown. The crown or umbrella (hti) is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. The very top, the diamond bud (sein bu) is tipped with a 76 carat (15 g) diamond.
The Gold seen on the stupa is made of genuine gold plates, covering the brick structure attached by traditional rivets. Myanmar people all over the country, as well as monarchs in its history,have donated gold to the pagoda to maintain it. It was started in th fifteenth century by the Mon Queen Shin Saw Bu who gave her weight in gold and continues to this day.

Rituals: Visitors must remove their shoes before the first step at any of the entrances. The southern and eastern approaches have traditional shops with wide gradual staircases. In addition the southern approach has an elevator and the infrequently used western one is equipped with escalators. Burmese walk around the stupa clockwise (let ya yit). The day of the week a person is born will determine their planetary post, eight in all as Wednesday is split in two, a.m. and p.m. They are marked by animals that represent the day, galon (garuda) for Sunday (ta nin ganway), tiger for Monday (ta nin la), lion for Tuesday (in ga), tusked elephant for Wednesday a.m.(bouddahu), tuskless elephant for Wednesday p.m. (yahu), mouse for Thursday (kyatha baday), guinea pig for Friday (thaukkya) and naga (mythical dragon/serpent) for Saturday (sanay). Each planetary post has a Buddha image and devotees offer flowers and prayer flags and pour water on the image with a prayer and a wish. The base of the stupa is octagonal and also surrounded by small shrines, eight in number for each day of the week.

The Shwe Dagon was, during the second university strike in history of 1936, where the students camped out. In January 1946, General Aung San addressed a mass meeting at the stupa, demanding "independence now" from the British with a thinly veiled threat of a general strike and uprising. Forty two years later, on 26 August 1988, his daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed another mass meeting of 500,000 people at the stupa, demanding democracy from the military regime and calling the 8888 Uprising the second struggle for independence. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She has been repeatedly placed under house arrest, although in recent years the regime has been willing to enter into negotiations with her and her party, the National League for Democracy. She was placed under house arrest on May 31, 2003, following an attack on her convoy in northern Myanmar. Her house arrest was extended for yet another year in late November of 2005. Despite a direct appeal by Kofi Annan to Than Shwe and pressure by ASEAN, the Burmese military junta extended Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest another year on 27 May 2006.


Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda: This is one of the largest reclining Buddhas Iíve ever seen and is evidently the largest in Myanmar. It canít be very much smaller than the one in Bangkok, reputed to be the largest reclining Buddha in the world.
Itís located near downtown and also near the Shwedagon Complex. The Buddha image is 72m long. The head is about 30 feet high. Originally built in 1907, it had suffered damage due to climate and earthquakes over time so in 1957 it was basically demolished and then rebuilt in this structure next to the Ashay Tawya monastery. It was completed in 1966. Given the site it's hard to believe that this incarnation is 40 years old. The monks must take good care of it.
One of the unique aspects of this image is the mosaic on the sole of its feet representing the 108 special characteristics of the Buddha. The area around the feet is divided into astrological signs tied to the 8 days of the week (Wednesday is divided into two days, morning and afternoon). Buddha was born Wednesday morning so his sign is the tusk-less elephant which can be found in the Northwest corner of the enclosure.
Inside the building, as is usual in Myanmar, people are praying and making offerings as part of their daily lives. Outside, there is a bustling market selling offerings and incense as well as the usual souvenirs. There are also the usual collection of fortune-tellers and diviners to help people determine whatís in store for them in the future. The nearby monastery is open to visitors for a small fee. Nomo neglected to tell us that so we missed an opportunity to get a sense of how the monks live.

Copyright Jean-Marc Michel. Use of any image is strictly forbidden without my explicit written permission.

The images on the site are available for sale as fine art prints and also as stock images.
For more information please contact me at jeanmarcmichelmy@yahoo.fr
previous pagepages 1 2 3 4 5 ALL next page
DSC_0063
DSC_0063
DSC_0402
DSC_0402
DSC_0453
DSC_0453
DSC_0047
DSC_0047
DSC_0419
DSC_0419
DSC_0020
DSC_0020
DSC_0101
DSC_0101
DSC_0070
DSC_0070
DSC_0454
DSC_0454
DSC_0412
DSC_0412
DSC_0084
DSC_0084
DSC_0052
DSC_0052
previous pagepages 1 2 3 4 5 ALL next page