The Maha Wizaya Pagoda in Yangon is a very elegant structure on top of a small hill opposite the famous Shwedagon pagoda. The pagoda that is also called the Maha Vijaya Pagoda was completed in 1980 and is a mix of traditional and modern style elements.
It was built for the occasion of the first assembly of the unified orders of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and paid for with donations from Buddhists from across Burma.
The hti, an ornamental spire shaped in the form of an umbrella on top of the pagoda was donated by Ne Win, the country’s head of state and military leader. The pagoda is thus also referred to as “The General’s Pagoda”.
The central dome of the Maha Wizaya
A rather unique feature of the Maha Wizaya Pagoda is its main stupa in the center of the building. Unlike the stupa of most Burmese temples, this stupa is hollow and open to visitors.
Buddha relics shrine
Inside the main stupa is a rotunda, a round room with a dome on top. In the center of the room is a shrine for the Buddhist relics, that were a gift from the King of Nepal, the country where the Buddha was born more than 2500 years ago. Encircling the base of the shrine is a number of Buddha images.
Murals in the central dome
The domed ceiling over the relic shrine is painted in a light blue color and mainly contains depictions of various animals. Among the very colorful murals in the central dome are depictions of the Buddha meditating under a Bodhi tree, the Buddha and an elephant kneeling down in front of Him and the Buddha teaching to a great number of followers. Surrounding the relic chamber is an arcade lined with Buddha images. The walls contain murals of landscapes with stupas and temples.
Two large Chinthes, Burmese mythological lions guard the entrance to the temple complex. At the Southern gate is a small very elegant building with a multi tiered roof topped with a golden spire and very ornately decorated bargeboards.
How to get to the Maha Wizaya Pagoda
The Maha Wizaya is located on the intersection of U Htaung Bo road and Shwedagon pagoda road in Dagon township in downtown Yangon. The temple is found on a small hill just across the street from the Shwedagon pagoda.
The Pagoda opens daily from 6 am until 10 pm.