Hidden secrets behind sacred temples you may not know in Myanmar


Myanmar has long been famous for thousands of ancient temples with unique and impressive architecture. However, there are many hidden secrets behind these sacred temples you may not know.

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Shwedagon Pagoda was built to enshrine eight strands of Buddha’s hair

Shwedagon is the most sacred golden temple in Myanmar, located in Yangon, covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top is encrusted with thousands of diamonds and rubies. According to legend, there are two merchant brothers from Balkh city (now Afghanistan) met the Buddha and were given eight hairs. After that, they moved to Burma, with the help of the King Okkalapa, found Singuttara Hill – where they built this temple. The stupa on the top of temple as a crown tipped with more than 7,000 diamonds and gems, the biggest diamond is up to 74 carat.

Shwedagon Pagoda was built to enshrine eight strands of Buddha’s hair (via Wings Travel)

The architects of Ananda Temple was killed

The Ananda is a sacred temple in Bagan, inspired by 8 Indian monks from Nandamula Temple in Himalayas. At that time, the king asked these monks to build the temple in the middle of Bagan plains in order to create cool conditions inside the temple. However, after the temple was completed, tê king killed the monks because he wanted to retain the uniqueness of the temple and didn’t want them to build a similar temple anywhere else.

Ancient Bagan had more than 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries

Bagan was once the ancient capital of Pagan Kingdom – the first kingdom to unify the regions of modern-day Myanmar. In 250 years of rule, the Pagan’s kings and local people built more than 10,000 religious sites on an area of 104 square kilometers. Today, there are only about 2,200 temples from this time still survive.

Ancient Bagan had more than 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries (via OrangeSmile Tours)

Shwezigon’s location was decided by a white elephant

Shwezigon is also a famous ancient temple in Bagan. It is believed that the location of the temple was determined by a white elephant carrying a frontal bone relic of the Buddha. This elephant was allowed to move freely in the area and he stops at anywhere, this will be the place to build the temple. Shwezigon Temple was constructed in the heart of a large area, surrounded by many other temples. The temple has magnificent architectural structure like the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

Dhammayangyi Temple was built by a ruthless king

Dhammayangyi Temple in Bagan is famous for its unique pyramid shape that is totally different from the other traditional temples in Myanmar. Today, Burmese people still have no explanation why King Narathu built this temple in the pyramid shape. According to legend, the King killed his father and brother to occupy the throne. After that, maybe because of fear of creating karma, he decided to build the temple to worship the Buddha. The temple’s door has two Buddha statues, built by the King as the embodiment of his father and brother.

Dhammayangyi Temple was built by a ruthless king (via Myanmar River Cruises)

Pindaya Cave has about 9,000 Buddha statues

Pindaya Caves is located in Shan state, Myanmar. The cave is well-known for many statues of Buddha with unique shapes that have existed for centuries. The Pindaya Caves, where the relics from 18th century have been preserved, is an important pilgrimage site of Myanmar Buddhists as well as an attractive tourist destination for many international visitors. There are 3 caves but only the southern cave can be visited. This cave is 150m long with a total of over 8,000 Budhha statues and relics.

Popa Mountain is known as Olympia of Myanmar people

This is a great pilgrimage site worshipping many Myanmar’s supreme gods. The mountain is considered to be the legendary house of the “Taung Kalat soul”, where worships of 37 Naturals who protect the poor people in Myanmar. To reach the mountain’s top, visitors must climb 777 steps (about 45 minutes).

Popa Mountain (via Wikipedia)

Buddha’s hair was buried at Kyaiktiyo Temple

Kyaikhtiyo Temple was built more than 2,500 years ago, about 210km from Yangon. It was built on a rock at an altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level. According to legend, once the Buddha came here to preach, he gave Taik Tha a hair. This hair after that was stored in a stone in a small temple in  Kyaikhtiyo Hill. However, women are not allowed to touch the rock.

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