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Shwethalyaung Buddha, Bago

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Shwethalyaung Buddha in Bago is the most revered reclining Buddha in Myanmar. The Shwethalyaung depicts the Buddha on the eve of entering nibbana (nirvana). At 55 m ( 181 ft), the Shwethalyaung Buddha is not as big as the colossal Kyaukhtatgyi Buddha statue of Yangon. However, the Shwethalyaung is older and, arguably, regarded as more artistically rendered. It is also 9m longer than the reclining Buddha in Wat Po, Bangkok.

Shwethalyaung Buddha, Bago.

The Shwethalyaung Buddha was built by King Migadippa I in 994, before the Mons were conquered by the Burmans. King Dhammazedi restored it during his reign. Then, when Bago was destroyed in 1757, the Shwethalyaung was lost under layers of vegetation, and was only rediscovered in 1881 when workmen building a railway line for the British stumbled over it.

In 1906, after the undergrowth had been cleared, a tazaung (pavilion) was built over it. Although the tazaung prevented the Buddha statue from being view in whole, it does provide some protection to the statue against the elements. Today, a temple complex has sprung up around this statue, with souvenir vendors hawking their wares along the route to the statue.

Vendor selling a type of baked banana cake by the roadside outside the temple of the Shwethalyaung Buddha.

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