SHWEDAGON PAGODA, an early morning shot by a serious amateur, 5:30AM Local Time… That’s one of my favorite shots so far…
Camera – Nikon D40
Exposure Time – 1/20s
ISO Speed – 800
Focal Length – 18mm
According to legend, the Shwedagon Pagoda is 2,500 years old. Archaeologists believe the stupa was actually built sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries by the Mon, but this is a very controversial issue because according to the records by Buddhist monks it was built before Lord Buddha died in 486 BC. The story of Shwedagon Pagoda begins with two merchant brothers, Taphussa and Bhallika, from the land of Ramanya, meeting the Lord Gautama Buddha and receiving eight of the Buddha’s hairs to be enshrined in Burma. The two brothers made their way to Burma and with the help of the local king, King Okkalapa, found Singuttara Hill, where relics of other Buddhas preceding Gautama Buddha had been enshrined.
There are four entrances (Mouk, in Burmese) to the Paya that lead up a flight of steps to the platform (Yin Byin, in Burmese) on Singuttara Hill. The eastern and southern approaches have vendors selling books, good luck charms, Buddha images, candles, gold leaf, incense sticks, prayer flags, streamers, miniature umbrellas and flowers. A pair of giant chinthe (leogryphs, mythical lions) guards the entrances and the image in the shrine at the top of the steps from the south is that of the second Buddha, Konagamana. The base or plinth of the stupa is made of bricks covered with gold plates. Above the base are terraces (Pyissayan, in Burmese) that only monks and men can access. Next is the bell-shaped part (Khaung Laung Bon, in Burmese) of the stupa. Above that is the turban (Baung Yit, in Burmese), then the inverted almsbowl (Tha Beik, in Burmese), inverted and upright lotus petals (Kyar Hmauk Kyar Hlan, in Burmese), the banana bud (Nga Pyaw Bu, in Burmese) and then the crown. The crown or umbrella (Hti, in Burmese) is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. The very top, the diamond bud (Sein Bu, in Burmese) is tipped with a 76 carat (15 g) diamond.
The Gold seen on the stupa is made of genuine gold plates, covering the brick structure attached by traditional rivets. Myanmar people all over the country, as well as monarchs in its history, have donated gold to the pagoda to maintain it. It was started in the 15th century by the Mon Queen Shin Sawbu who gave her weight in gold and continues to this day.