Burmese history is a rocky affair. From political instability to the earthquakes that shake the country’s foundation, many of its temples have been rebuilt over the tremulous years.

Bago, a city a few hour drive or train ride south from the Burmese capital of Yangon (Rangoon), is choked full of golden temples including the 375-foot Shwemawdaw Paya, Burma’s tallest.

The Shwemawdaw Paya was originally built in the tenth century by two merchant brothers and over the years has been rebuilt many times.

Earthquakes destroyed the temple twice in the last 100 years but never put a dent in people’s faith.


Relic’s play a large role in Burmese Buddhism. The Shwemawdaw Paya Temple, at 377-foot tall, was originally built to enshrine two Buddha hairs. In 982, a sacred tooth was added and another in 1385. Over the years the temple has been rebuilt many times, most recently in 1930.
Inside the temple complex, smaller, gilded temples surround the main 375-foot stupa.
The main temple surrounded by smaller stupas.
Oracles and seers play a huge role in Burma.
From important businessmen to the country’s (former) military junta, soothsayer’s advice and predictions are taken seriously. For example, a their advice led the former junta to move the capital to Naypyidaw, a city 200 miles north of Yangon.


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