Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Jun 3, 2012


Then we proceeded to see the pride and joy of Myanmar, Shwedagon Paya. Located on a hill, and visible from almost anywhere in Yangon, this 220-ft high pagoda, is the country’s most revered Buddhist sites.

The entire stupa is gilded, and some parts of its top are covered with 13,153 plates of gold, each measuring one square foot. Its top-most vane is studded with 1100 diamonds and 1383 other stones. Studded with 4351 diamonds an orb rests on the top of the vane. Finally, a 76-carat diamond sits on the very top of the orb. Taken together, the total weight of all diamonds is more than 4700 carats.

The stupa is surrounded by more than 60 shrines.
Also there are shrines for planets ruling people born on various days of the week. It is noteworthy that according the Myanmar cosmology there are eight days in a week, as Wednesday morning, and Wednesday afternoon are considered two different days.

People conduct ritual bathing of idols for planets for their respective days of birth. As guided by our guide, Dorathy, even Kundan performed ritual bathing of at the shrine for Moon, the planets for those who were on Monday. Dorathy helped light candles there.

There are prayer halls also, where people offer prayers individually or in groups.

The gilded stupa turns crimson gold and orange at sunset.

We then returned to our hotel. After brief rest we decided to explore the around our hotel, on our own. First we encountered the 2000-year-old gilded Sule Paya, which sits at a traffic circle. Well-lighted at night, it serves as the mile-stone from which all addresses to the north are numbered.

Near the Sule Paya, we came across a mosque. Apparently the evening prayers had just ended, and some people had gathered outside the mosque. I heard them talking in Urdu, one of the languages of India and Pakistan.

I approached them, and expressed my surprise at hearing them talk in Urdu. One of them told me that there was no need for me to be surprised, and that they had been talking in Urdu, because they were Muslims. He smiled, when I said to him that I could talk in Urdu also, even though I was not a Muslim. And some interesting conversation among us followed.

I was told that their grandfathers had come from India, and that they had been born in Myanmar, most of them had never visited India.

They directed us to the Indian Quarters, where we found shops and many vendors selling Indian sweets, betel-leafs, fresh sugarcane juice, and other products.

After dosa dinner at a South Asian restaurant, we headed back to our hotel. On the way we came across placed decked out with Christmas and New Year displays.

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