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Let these random nuggets of information make your visit to these Myanmar attractions more interesting.
1. The Shwedagon Pagoda houses 8 strands of Gautama Buddha’s hair
Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist structure, located in Yangon, houses what is believed to be the hair of Gautama Buddha, who is known to many of us as, Buddha. Legends have it that two brothers from the city of Balkh (modern-day Afghanistan) met the Lord Gautama Buddha and received eight strands of his hair. The brothers then travelled to Burma and, with the help of the local ruler found Singuttara Hill, where the relics were enshrined. The stupa atop the main dome also has a crown studded with more than 7, 000 diamonds and precious stones, and is topped with a 74-carat diamond.
2. The only Jewish synagogue in Myanmar serves a Jewish population of less than 19
In downtown Yangon, you will find the Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue. Built between 1893 and 1896, it is officially recognised as a heritage building by the Yangon City Development Council. Before the Second World War, the Jewish community in Myanmar numbered about 2, 500 people. The exodus began during the Japanese Occupation, with more following after the Burmese army seized power in 1962. Today, the Jewish population in Myanmar is less than 19.
3. Apparently, the architects of the Ananda Temple were killed to ensure the uniqueness of the temple
According to legends, the Ananda Temple, a highly revered temple in Bagan, was built based on eight monks’ description of the Nandamula Cave Temple in the Himalayas. The king requested the monks to build a temple in the middle of the Bagan plains recreating the cool conditions of the original temple. After the monks completed the construction, the king, in order to retain the uniqueness of the temple, got the monks killed to ensure that another similar structure would not be built by them anywhere else.
4. At its peak, Bagan had over 10, 000 temples, pagodas, and monasteries
Bagan was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, which was the first kingdom to unify the regions that constitute the Myanmar we know today. Over its 250-year reign, the Pagan kings and their subjects constructed over 10, 000 religious monuments over an area of just 104 square kilometres. Today, just slightly over 2, 200 temples and pagodas remain.
5. Shwezigon Pagoda’s location was decided by a white elephant
Another of Bagan’s more prominent temples. It is believed that the pagoda’s location was determined by a white elephant that was carrying a frontal bone relic of the Buddha. The beast was allowed to roam freely with the declaration that wherever it stopped, the spot would be the site for the temple.
6. Bagan’s largest temple was built by a king so cruel, workers filled it with rubbles once he died
The Dhammayangyi Temple is Bagan’s largest. It is said that King Narathu built it to atone for his sins. The king was believed to be extremely cruel – he murdered his father and brother to get his hands on the crown, executed one of his wives, an Indian princess, for sticking to her Hindu beliefs, and killed his builders if he could fit a pin between the bricks of the temple. After his death, construction of the temple stopped and the debris that filled it is believed to be the work of the builders. Today, the interior of the temple is bricked in – and no one knows why.
7. The Pindaya Caves is filled with some 9, 000 Buddha statues and images
The Pindaya Caves in Shan State is an attraction not to be missed. A cave filled with thousands of Buddha statues and images, with some dating back to the early 18th century, the collection gives visitors an insight into the ever evolving artistic sensibilities through the ages. There is a legend attached to the caves as well and it has to do with the spider sculpture at its entrance. The story goes that seven princesses were trapped in the caves by a spider monster. A prince passed by and heard their screams. The eldest princess promised him the hand of her youngest sister if he could kill the monster and free them. He succeeded and won himself a princess.
8. Mount Popa is abode of Myanmar’s most powerful nats (spirits)
Nats are spirits worshipped in Myanmar. They are divided into 2 groups – the 37 Great Nats and lower nats that are spirits of trees, flowers, rivers, etc. The 37 Great Nats were human beings who died a sudden, violent death. Mount Popa is considered the “Mount Olympus” of Myanmar and as a pilgrimage site is home to numerous nat temples and religious relics. Burmese superstition believes that one should not wear red, black, or green, and bring meat when visiting the mountain.
9. A strand of hair is believed to be keeping the Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock from crashing down
You will be awed by the sight at Kyaiktiyo (pictured above) – where a small pagoda is perched atop a gilded granite boulder that looks to be balancing precariously on the edge of a hill. A strand of Buddha’s hair is said to be enshrined here and it is this hair that is preventing the massive rock from tumbling down the hill. To reach it so that you can affix a gold leaf on the boulder, you must cross a bridge across an abyss. Women, however, are not allowed to touch the rock and are therefore not allowed to cross the bridge.
10. A tribe of people just 1.29m tall
The Tarons are a small ethnic group residing at the foot of the Himalayas in north Myanmar. The group is allegedly descended from the Derung, an ethnic group from China, who migrated to Myanmar from Tibet. The tribe is one of the planet’s most endangered human groups. Elders – seeing that more and more babies are born with severe defects – have decreed that they would rather face extinction than risk any more children. Only one pure-blood male Taron man lives today – although many other Tarons have intermarried with other tribes and given birth to children with none of the Taron birth defects.
With some many interesting sights to see and and people to meet, you’ll most certainly need a reliable service to help you book your domestic flights. With Flymya, you can now book domestic flights within Myanmar easily and quickly.