One the most religious countries of the world, Myanmar has been a breeding ground for different cultures throughout history. From ancient Buddhism and forms of Hinduism and Islam, to Christianity, ushered in by the west, the list is endless. Myanmar tour packages may not always have visits to the relatively unknown, but exciting religious sites. Research your preferences and ask your travel agency to handcraft your tour accordingly. Some interesting religious places to visit in Myanmar are:
One of the Buddhist sites most sacred to the Burmese, the Shwedagon Pagoda was built on the Singuttara Hill. Located in Yangon, it is nearly 2500 years old, and is 326 feet high. Solid gold plates, 8688 at the base, and 13153 on the upper part, adorn the surface. Other valuable materials like diamonds, rubies and sapphires, too, feature on the pagoda. Most Myanmar tour packages will include a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
The ChaukHtatGyi Pagoda in Yangon is popular with the tourists. It is more than 100 years old, and features the famous 65-meter-long reclining statue of the Budhha. ChaukHtatGyi translates to six layers, which means that it is a six-layer pagoda. The building has a good car park. Before you enter the complex, take off your shoes, and soak in the calm spirit of this religious site.
While in Yangon, head over to the city’s centre right after your breakfast, for a visit to the Sule Pagoda. Legend has it that it was built over 2500 years ago, and was rebuilt in the 1880s under British rule. A sacred strand of the Buddha’s hair is said to be enshrined here. The Sule Pagoda also functioned as an important official building in the past. It opens at 4 in the morning and can be visited until 10 p.m. in the night.
Nat HlaungKyaung Temple
Situated in Bagan, this ancient religious site dates to the 11th century. It is a single-storied Hindu temple that served Brahmin astrologers in the past. Visit the Nat HlaungKyaung Temple to witness centuries-old Hindu sculptures and murals. The principal deity here is Vishnu, and a Shiva idol was recently moved to the Bagan Archaeological Museum.
Ananda Pahto Temple
Just under 1000 years old, the Ananda Pahto Temple is located in Bagan. Built under King Kyanzittha, it is one of the few temples that still survive in Bagan. The several terraces lead up to a small pagoda at the top. At the Ananda Pahto Temple, you can see four standing Buddha statues, facing the four cardinal directions. It is also known as the ‘museum of stones’ and as the ‘Westminster Abbey of Burma.’ You can find food stalls and hawkers if you enter from the northern side.
Masjid Sunni Bengali
Myanmar isn’t only about temples, monasteries, and pagodas. Make sure your travel agency includes the Masjid Sunni Bengali in your itinerary. It is a popular mosque in Yangon downtown, on Sule Pagoda road. The mosque is a walk from Scott Market and Traders Hotel. It has an air-conditioned prayer hall, and halal restaurants can be found in plenty outside. Avoid visiting on busy Fridays. Several other popular mosques, like Masjid Soorthy and Masjid Kam Bek, too, are a drive away.
To read our previous article, please click here.