Chaukhtatgyi Paya: The Home of the Giant Reclining Buddha
Have you ever heard of a colossal Buddha in Yangon, Myanmar? How about a reclining Buddha that attracts millions of tourists from various parts of the world? This is the world-renowned statue located at the Chaukhtatgyi Paya, which was built in 1907 and consequently rebuilt after suffering major damages through the years. You will find the pagoda at the Shwe Gon Daing Road, just a few kilometers away at the northeast of the Shwedagon Paya.
Considered as one of Myanmar’s most beautiful Buddha statues, the Chaukhtatgyi Buddha that stands 30 meters tall and 60 meters long displays a vivid, good-natured countenance. He also wears a magnificent crown decorated with diamonds and other precious gems. Visitors will observe that the Buddha rests on his right side with his feet close together, in a position that’s apparently the “parinibbana,” or the dying position wherein he obtained enlightenment. He is also facing southwards, a direction that indicates rest.
The enormous figure is kept in an equally enormous metal-roofed shack. Visitors will find a small shrine near the statue’s feet and this is dedicated to Ma Thay, a sacred man who can stop the rain and grant a safe journey to sailors. On the Buddha’s feet, you will find gold inscriptions, which describe his numerous lives. A number of fortunetellers also swarm around the platform, offering palm and astrological reading services to people.
The Chaukhtatgyi Paya is a working shrine that is regularly filled with people who drop by to offer their prayers. Despite its unbelievable size, the giant reclining Buddha is surprisingly not that popular and it’s rarely publicized.
The pagoda opens daily at 06:00 until 17:00 and admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to give some donations for the maintenance of the place. This is a tourist spot worthy of your attention so make sure to include it in your travel plan.
The Shweminwon Sasana Yeiktha Meditation Center is attached to the pagoda complex and herds of locals flock to this area to meditate. Aside from the center, you can also opt to stroll around the temple’s stupa where visitors walk in a clockwise direction. Monks will welcome you with smiles plastered on their placid faces but remember to keep your voices down to avoid disturbing those who are eating or praying.
Also, women aren’t permitted to touch the monks and are required to bow slightly when older monks pass by. When inside the temple, remember to sit with your feet tucked behind and take off your hats and shoes. In addition, avoid pointing the soles of your feet or your fingers towards the monks and the Buddha figures. You must take a mental note of all these to keep yourself from offending the locals and more especially, the monks.
The Ashay Tawya Monastery can be found near the Paya and you can take the opportunity to have your picture taken with the monks as well as the locals. In Myanmar, people seem to have imbibed this enigmatic willingness to pose in front of a camera. Grab this chance and unleash the clicker-happy person in you! Make your Myanmar journey a life event you will always remember.