Yangon’s Botahtaung Paya and the Buddha’s Hair Relic

Previous Post: Sule Paya – the Stupa At The Heart of Yangon

An OOPS moment – this post is not quite done! I was working on it just before we set off on our 15-day canoe trip down Quebec’s Coulonge River and the Ottawa River … I set it to automatically publish on August 31. Well, I forgot all about the post and am recuperating from what was another excellent paddling adventure.  The pix are done but the writing is not.  Do check back in a few days for the finished text. Thanks.

after my visit to the Sule Paya I walked through Maha Bandula Garden to the Strand Hotel to enjoy a cup of coffee in air-conditioned comfort! Then further east down Strand Road to my second Buddhist temple of the day, the Botahtaung Paya.

humble Buddhist tree shrine on Strand Road in Yangon

humble Buddhist tree shrine on Strand Road in Yangon

elaborate legends which connect the site to the Buddha in the distant past, probably long before there actually were any Buddhists in the area.

the name comes from Bo (leader) and tahtaung (one thousand).  The leaders were military ones who acted as an honour guard when the strands of the Buddha’s hair arrived

entrance fee – 3000 kyats – open from 6 a.m. to 8 or 9  p.m. busier than the Sule Pagoda even at 1 p.m.

Google satellite image of downtown Yangon

Google satellite image of downtown Yangon

The story of the temple connects it to eight strands of the Buddha’s hair brought by monks from India. When is not clear -some accounts say during his own lifetime; others say 1500 years ago during the rule of the Mon King Sihadipa, ruler of the Kingdom of Thaton.  There to greet the monks were 1000 noted military leaders. It is not clear which ethnic group they belonged to  –  Bamar? Mon? some other?

was originally a Mon stupa called Kyaik-de-att  built to house the strands of hair

It is called a pagoda, a paya, a zedi …

stupa 40 meter (131′)  high    zedi?  paya?  pagoda?  stupa?  bell-shaped

view of the Botahtuang Paya

square base ?  96′ x 96′

once held eight strands of the Buddha’s hair – since distributed elsewhere

name of temple comes from the 1000 military leaders who accompanied the hair back to this spot from India at the time of the Buddha

destroyed in 1943 during WWII thanks to a direct hit during an air raid by RAF bombers intent on destroying the wharves along the Rangoon River

Botahtaung Pagoda terrace - dogs in the shade

Botahtaung Pagoda terrace – dogs in the shade

a recreation of the Bodhi Tree with a seated Buddha statue at Botahtuang Paya

a recreation of the Bodhi Tree with a seated Buddha statue at Botahtaung Paya

monastic residence on the Botahtuang Paya terrace

monastic residence on the Botahtaung Paya terrace

the rebuilt stupa is hollow – inside is a dazzling maze of gold-plated walls – during the rebuilding of the pedi after the war a relic chamber 20′ x 20′ x 6′ some say – others say a just a golden casket int he form of a stupa was apparently found that contained relics o fat eBuddha – a strand of hair and a couple of other bones. also relics including a strand of hair said to belong to the Buddha. Somewhere in the temple is also a tooth of the Buddha donated by the Chinese government in 1960

prayers at the largest of Botatuang Paya's shrine rooms

prayers at the largest of Botatuang Paya’s shrine rooms

Botahtaung Paya shrine room with resident cat

Botahtaung Paya shrine room with resident cat

nat pavilion in sw corner

Botatuang Paya - locked pavilion

Botatuang Paya – locked pavilion

  • Botahtaung Pagoda ,Yangon Myanmar – January 6 ,2013 : Bo Bo Gyi traditionally refers to the name of a guardian spirit (called nat) unique to each Burmese Buddhist temple or pagoda.

Botatuang Pagoda - window bars

Botatuang Pagoda – window bars

another shrine room with seated Buddha figures

another shrine room with seated Buddha figures

SE corner – turtle pool

an overview of Rangoon's Botatuang stupa

an overview of Rangoon’s Botataung stupa

one of the planetary posts around the Botatuang Pagods base

one of the planetary posts around the Botataung Pagoda base

Botatuang Pagoda planetary post close up

Botataung Pagoda planetary post close up

a visual retelling of the Buddha's story

a visual retelling of the Buddha’s story

passageway into the hollow stupa

passageway into the hollow stupa

a dead end in the maze of passages inside the Botataung Pagoda in Yangon

a dead end in the maze of passages inside the Botataung Pagoda in Yangon

The Eight-Spoked Buddhist Wheel with Swiastika centre at the Botataung Pagoda

The Eight-Spoked Buddhist Wheel with swastika centre at the Botataung Pagoda

1/10 of a second – iso of 400 …not a great setting

entrance to the chamber containing the strand of the Buddha's hair

entrance to the chamber containing the strand of the Buddha’s hair

The Buddha's Sacred hair Relic at the Botahtaung

The Buddha’s Sacred hair Relic at the Botahtaung

large terrace around the stupa with a pond and bridges. In the water are terrapin turtles. Feeding them is yet another way of gaining merit to ensure a better future life.

sculpture of Siddhartha Gautama being shielded by Mucalinda the naga or snake king from the rain

sculpture of Siddhartha Gautama being shielded by Mucalinda the naga or snake king from the rain

bridge over the pond with freshwater turtles

bridge over the pond with freshwater turtles

covered bridge by the terrapin turtle pond

covered bridge by the terrapin turtle pond

nuns entering the Botahtuang Pagoda

nuns entering the Botahtaung Pagoda

2 thoughts on “Yangon’s Botahtaung Paya and the Buddha’s Hair Relic

    • An oops moment! Before I went off on a canoe trip I set today is the publication date but never got around to finishing the text!

      Myanmar – and Sri Lanka too – and Nepal – definitely worth the visit – if gazing upon Buddha figures gives you extra karma points, I’m all set!

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