Thousands of pilgrims stream daily around the precincts of Myanmar's most splendid religious monument – Shwedagon Pagoda – a structure of otherworldly beauty. The temple here is often seen as a symbol of Burmese Buddhism and national pride. The gigantic golden stupa rises out from the cityscape of Yangon making for a sublime spectacle.
Mahamuni Paya, Mandalay
In Mandalay the huge Buddha at Mahamuni Paya is a famous Buddhist monument. Believed by many to be over 2,000 years old, the site is of major religious significance with followers visiting each day. The massive statue was seized from Mrauk-U in 1784 and housed in Mandalay ever since. A frieze of paintings in the pagoda highlights this story. Each evening Buddha is put to sleep in a ceremony when a cloth covers his face.
Ananda Pahto, Bagan
There are over 4,000 Buddhist temples in Bagan and one of the most famous is Ananda Pahto. The distinctive temple architecture is renowned in itself but this paya is famed for its four wooden statues of Buddha. These depict Buddha’s life in the various forms such as the hand position depicting teaching. The temple is also renowned for its gold glimmering hti and is thought to be a style typical of the early Bagan period.
Shwemawdaw Pagoda, Bago
Bago's outstanding attraction is the Shwemawdaw Pagoda. Its stupa can be seen from around 10 km (6 miles) outside the city. Richly gilded from base to tip, the pagoda has many similarities to the Shwedagon, and is in fact even taller than its more famous cousin, standing at 114 meters high. In 1930, the Shwemawdaw was hit by three earthquakes that almost completely destroyed it. However, after World War II, it was rebuilt by unpaid volunteers to stand higher than ever.
Golden Rock Pagoda, Kyaikhtiyo (Mon State)
Forming one of the most ethereal spectacles in Southeast Asia, the Kyaikhtiyo 'Golden Rock' Pagoda crowns a ridge of forested hills in the far north of Mon State, 210km (130km) east of Yangon. During the pilgrimage season from November to March, tens of thousands of devotees climb daily up to the shrine, regarded as one of the country's most sacred, for a glimpse of a modest, 7.3-metre stupa mounted on top of a lavishly gilded boulder.
Win Sein Taw Ya, near Mawlamyine (Mon State)
The country’s largest reclining Buddha, measuring an enormous 180 meters long, rests on a ridgetop 20km (12 miles) south of the former colonial capital of Mawlamyine (Moulmein). The statue is also the largest of its kind in the world and houses diorama galleries, which recount moral tales and stories from the Master’s life.
Visiting Myanmar? Don’t Miss These Top 6 Buddhist Monuments
Myanmar (Burma) is one of the best places in Asia to see Buddhist architecture and monuments. This is primarily due to the eclectic nature of Burmese Theravada Buddhism, which incorporates elements from a range of sources. All over the country are countless iconic sights and pagodas. Here are 6 of the top Buddhist monuments to see on a visit to the country.