Botataung Pagoda in downtown Yangon is one of the many pagodas in the city where you will find a piece of Buddha’s hair. It is this relic that the golden pagoda is known for. According to the history of the pagoda, eight strands of Buddha’s hair arrived here more than two thousand years ago. And on that day, there were 1000 members of the military who came to guard such most precious and sacred relics. Thus, the name Botataung which literally means 1000 soldiers.
The golden stupa is 40 meters high and it has shared history with the Shwedagon Pagoda.
Hollow Golden Chambers
The huge golden pagoda is the main attraction here. Once you get inside (after paying, of course), the stairs that led to the bottom of the pagoda are visible. It’s a narrow alley that you walk around, passing through hollow chambers. These maze-like chambers are incredibly impressive! They’re gold plated (I think) and the craftsmanship is that of the highest caliber. Buddhist devotees squat on the floor and offer their intercessions to the Buddha. It was a really great experience to be here.
The Hair of the Buddha
As you circle the interior of the pagoda, you’ll pass by a locked, glass-covered door. This door gives visitors a glimpse of a small altar where Buddha’s hair is kept. At first, I didn’t understand why there was such a queue in a hollow alley. Then I heard an English-speaking guide telling his two visitors of Buddha’s hair displayed inside. Honestly, I saw the tiny box/altar but not really the hair. It’s impossible! A strand of hair! It’s not like a ponytail! 🙂
Legend of Two Brothers
Brothers Tapusa and Bhalikka who went to India for business and trade. Many people believed that the brothers met Gautama Buddha on his 49th day on Enlightenment. They paid respect to Buddha and rested under the same tree where the Holy man attained Nirvana. In exchange, Buddha handed the brothers eight strands of his hair, knowing that Buddhism will flourish someday in Burma/Myanmar.
Britain Stole This Image Statue of Buddha
Yes, you read it right! Britain stole this image statue of Buddha (the Nan oo Royal Palace Bronze Image). And not just that. They also stole the King’s Throne. The Gilded Bronze Image of Buddha and the throne were on display at the Albert and Victoria Museum in London for many, many years. After 66 years in a strange land, the British government finally returned these precious pieces of history.
When you enter the Botahtaung Pagoda, you will find these stolen/returned historical pieces on your right. They’re well-enshrined in a separate building connected through a covered walkway.
Botataung Pagoda is also spelled as Botahtaung. When you’re in Yangon, don’t miss this. I highly recommend it.
Where to stay in Yangon
Yangon is still pretty cheap for a backpacker, so I treated myself by staying in a cheap hotel with basic necessities. I stayed at Yangon Urban Hotel which is smacked right at the center of the old downtown. The room was spacious and they clean it daily. Staff members are nice and they will try to help and answer your questions. There are many restaurants and grocery shops nearby. Breakfast was nice, too. From here, Sule Pagoda is just 7 minutes walk and 28 minutes to Botataung Pagoda/Paya. They also offer an airport pick-up with a reasonable fee. You can book it via Booking, , HostelWorld, and Expedia.