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Published: December 14th 2014
The Reclining Buddha in all his splendor.
Just a short distance away from the city's main tourist attraction, the great Shwedagon pagoda, is the Chauk Htat Gyi
pagoda where you can see the third largest reclining Buddha in Myanmar (indeed, the world). This remarkable statue is housed in a large metal-roof shed and is highly revered by the local people, the majority of whom are Buddhists. Although it is not as well known as the fabled Shwedagon, it is fast becoming a tourist draw. I have been there several times, my last visit being two years ago.
The very impressive 65 meters/214 feet long image is wearing a golden robe; the right arm of the Buddha is supporting the back of the head. It is decorated with very expressive colors, white face, red lips, blue eye shadow, golden robe and red finger nails. A prominent part of the image are the soles of his feet containing 108 segments in red and gold colors that show symbols representing the 108 'lakshanas' or auspicious characteristics of the Buddha. Its height of 16 meters or 53 feet also makes it more striking.
The original image was built in 1907 by a distinguised Burmese gentleman by the name
The Buddha's feet. Note the inscriptions on the soles.
of Hpo Thar (later knighted by the British Crown), but after many decades of neglect and disrepair during the Independence movement and War years, it was demolished and rebuilt to this structure in 1966. The heavy cost of the restoration was entirely borne by the devout population. Even today, the entire cost of maintenance is met from people's donations. The names of the contributors, both local and foreign, are inscribed on the beams of the building.
The roof of the big shed is made from corrugated iron sheets of six layers. Hence, the pagoda is generally referred to as the six-tiered (in Burmese, 'Chauk Htat Gyi
'pagoda. The monasteries in the vicinity of this pagoda accommodate over six hundred monks who study Buddhist Scriptures from the senior and qualified monks.
There are several gift shops in the compound where you can pick up souvenirs such as postcards, Buddha statuettes, amulets, mini-gongs w/mallets (I have a set at home), etc. Oh, as in most small stores in Myanmar, you are allowed to bargain too! Admission to this pagoda has always been free, but you might be asked to give a donation for the upkeep of the place.
A lone man praying at the base of the Buddha.
My last time there was three years ago, and it was still free. However with the rapid flow of travelers into the country presently, I wouldn't be surprised if they charge entrance fees now.
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