Mahamuni Pagoda

Must See Mahamuni Pagoda

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Mandalay, Myanmar

South of the city centre is Mahamuni Pagoda (entrance fee), 3km (2 miles) Mandalay's most distinct Buddhist shrine. Mahamuni means Great Sage, and the golden Buddha was taken during the sack of Mrauk-U in 1784.

Today, the Buddha sits enthroned in a small chamber. His legs are crossed, and his right hand touches the ground, his head is crowned with diamonds, rubies and sapphires. Men regularly apply gold leaf to the Buddha which has caused the face to lose a bit of its detailed contour.

Much of the temple complex is unremarkable, it was remodelled after a fire destroyed the structure in the 19th century. A teaching monastery home to around 400 monks is next door to the pagoda. There is also the Mahamuni Museum whose displays look at Buddhism throughout Asia.

Along with the Buddha, six bronze statues of Hindu deities are believed to have healing powers, and visitors come from all over the world to rub the statues. In February, an annual festival, Mahamuni Paya Pwe, celebrates the pagoda's history.

During the celebrations, dance, theatrical and musical performance accompany the daily rituals and a recitation from Patthana, or “Book of Conditional Relations.”

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