Temples & pagodas of Yangon

Burma’s oldest and most famous temples and pagodas

Shwedagon pagoda at dusk in city of Yangon
Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon around dusk

Yangon, Burma’s largest city and former capital houses some of the country’s oldest, most famous and most highly revered temples and pagodas. Its oldest pagodas, the Shwedagon, Botataung and Sule are believed to date back to the lifetime of the Gautama Buddha some 2500 years ago. Originally small, the structures have been renovated, rebuild and enlarged many times over the course of the centuries.

Famous temples, pagodas & Buddha images in Yangon

Yangon’s oldest pagodas

Believed to be oldest pagoda in Burma, the Shwedagon is Yangon’s most famous landmark and pilgrimage site. Its 99 meter tall gold plated stupa enshrining hair strands of the Gautama Buddha is topped with a diamond studded spire. Its location on top of a small hill makes the pagoda visible from much of the town. After dark the pagoda is beautifully illuminated with spotlights.

According to legend the Botataung pagoda was constructed some 2,500 years ago by the Mon people. It enshrines a hair relic of the Gautama Buddha. Unlike most stupas, the main stupa of the Botataung is open to the public that can view the hair relic exhibited in an ivory shrine.

The Sule, a small Mon style pagoda in downtown Yangon is one of the oldest in Burma. It is believed to have been founded during the lifetime of the Gautama Buddha 25 centuries ago. According to legend the pagoda was named after the Sule Nat, a spirit that lived at the spot where the pagoda now stands. The Sule enshrines strands of hair from the Buddha.

Other pagodas and temples in Yangon

Yangon is home to numerous pagodas and temples of varying ages.

The Maha Wizaya pagoda, a very elegant structure on top of a hill near the Shwedagon, enshrines Buddha relics. The recently built pagoda is a mix of modern and traditional architecture. Its central dome which reminds of the ancient pagodas on the plains of Bagan is adorned with colorful murals. The main stupa is open to visitors allowing them to worship the relics.

The Kaba Aye pagoda and adjoining Maha Pasana Guha cave were built to host the 6th Buddhist council, 2,500 years after the Gautama Buddha passing into Nirvana. The pagoda’s interior walls are adorned with colorful murals. The building enshrines images of the four Buddhas that have reached Nirvana.

The Kyauk Taw Gyi pagoda near Yangon airport is known for its enormous marble Buddha image. The image measuring 37 feet tall weighing over 600 tonnes was carved from a single piece of marble.

One of the largest reclining Buddha images in Burma can be found at the Chauk Htat Gyi pagoda. The 65 meter long image is a little over a century old. Across the street is the Nga Htat Gyi pagoda enshrining a seated image of the Buddha wearing a golden robe. The 14 meter tall image known as the “five storey Buddha” was built in 1900.

The Shwe Taw Myat Paya near Yangon airport was built to enshrine a tooth relic, believed to be a tooth of the Gautama Buddha. Although a recent structure, the Shwe Taw Myat was built to resemble the 11th century Ananda pagoda in Bagan.

Temples & pagodas in Yangon