Senses of Shwedagon
Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda rises up from the city’s skyline as a holy skyscraper.
Daylight yields sunrays reflected from a gold-covered surface. In nighttime it is otherworldly, an illuminated beacon to draw in gawkers and worshippers alike. Shwedagon is a special place at any time of day, but the transition from night into dawn is not to be missed.
The temple engages your senses. Leave enough time to put your camera and notebook away and simply wander around the outskirts, allowing the experience to infiltrate each one of your senses.
Shwedagon is striking. It sits in a low-rise neighborhood to the north of central Yangon, and is by far the most prominent aspect of the city’s skyline. Adjectives to describe it are clichés, but when you’re standing in front of it, imposing, majestic and powerful come to mind.
Shwedagon is a temple, and while tourists come to ogle, the Burmese come to pray. Incense permeates the air around the temple, infusing the outdoor setting with the feel of an intimate place of worship.
Before you enter the complex you must remove your shoes and socks. Remember that it’s a holy place to the Burmese, so be respectful. And watch where you’re walking, as you’ll be sharing the space with some of nature’s creatures.
There’s a constant chorus of birds around the pagoda. Their songs are not always musical, but they’re a reminder that nature is an important part of the Shwedagon experience.
In the early morning hours, worshippers bring breakfast and sit down in front of the pagoda to eat and pray, nourishing both body and soul. Respect the site by cleaning up anything you bring with you.
If you’re only transiting Yangon and have limited time, this is how you should spend it. Besides, how many of your friends have checked in to the Shwedagon Pagoda on Foursquare?