Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
Of the many wonders that one finds when visiting Myanmar (Burma), the Shwedagon Pagoda is truly of of the more fascinating sites to visit. Not simply for the beauty and grandiose edifice itself, layered with mounds of gold leaf and encrusted with thousands of semi-precious stones, but for the fact that thousands of Burmese and visiting pilgrims make it their daily habit to visit the temple to pay homage to the Buddha and the hundreds of incarnations found at various locations on its revered grounds.
Offerings of flowers, a water cleansing of the statuary and prayers abound as visitors well into the evening hours make their rounds between their favored incarnations. It is by far the most sacred Buddhist site within Myanmar, if not the world. Standing 326 feet into the sky, it is said to contain the relics of the four previous Buddhas.
According to historians and archaeologists, it dates back to between the 6th and 10th centuries, although legend has it that the pagoda was constructed more than 2,600 years ago. Over the years, it fell into disrepair, damaged by lack of care and major earthquakes. Overtime, it was repaired and most recently the government has allowed for festivals to take place on, which had been prohibited for decades.
Other highlights within the country take one to upper-Burma, visiting Inle Lake, Pagan, Kalaw and Mandalay, each with its own unique characteristics and charm.
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