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Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

One of the outings we were able to do while in Yangon was a day trip to Shwedagon Pagoda. During the Thingyan, pilgrims flock to the pagoda to pray and worship. The architectural design of the pagoda and surrounding stupas is unique to Myanmar and is seen throughout the country. This pagoda itself is amazing and can be seen throughout the city because of it's central placement. Apart from it's massive size there are a few other aspects of the pagoda that left our jaws agape. Shwedagon is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas. These relics include the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama. The bricks making up the pagoda are covered in gold plates and attached by traditional rivets. Gold has been donated by all peoples of Myanmar over the years to maintain its upkeep. After your eye makes its way up from the base you encounter the bell-shaped part of the stupa. Above that is the turban, then the inverted almsbowl (inverted and upright lotus petals), the banana bud and then the umbrella crown. The crown is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. Immediately before the diamond bud is a flag-shaped vane. The very top—the diamond bud—is tipped with a 76 carat diamond. (Sarah's eyes widened to the size of a black hole when she heard me read the 76 carat bit aloud). It was one of the most impressive pagodas we've had the pleasure of visiting on our journey thus far.

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