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Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > Bago Reclining Buddha and Kyaik Pun Pagoda

Pictures from Bago in Myanmar: pictures from the Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha and the Kyaik Pun Pagoda.

Bago Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha, Myanmar
Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha in Bago, Myanmar. Buddha in Nirvana (head turned towards the North).

Bago, formerly known as Pegu, is a city located 80 km (50 mi) northeast of Yangon. The city was founded in 573 by the Mon, once an important ethnic group of Burma, who made it their capital at the end of the 13th century. When the Buddhist monk Dhammazedi succeeded Queen Binnya Thau in the second half of the 15th century, Pegou became a great center of Theravada Buddhism. At that time, the city was an important port. In the 16th century, King Tabinshwehti of the Taungoo Dynasty conquered Pegu. He unified most of Burma, laying down his capital first in Pegu and then in Ava.

In 1757, after the Mon had regained the independence for about 20 years, Alaungpaya conquered and destroyed Pegu. He founded the Konbaung Dynasty who settled in Yangon. Pegu was rebuilt in the early 19th century. However since the course of the River had changed, Bago no longer had access to the sea. The town lost its importance.

This former capital remains marked by the presence of a large number of temples and Buddha statues. Among these, the most remarkable is without doubt the Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha. With a length of 55 m (180 ft) and a height of 15 m (49 ft), this statue dates back to the year 994.

At that time, a prince who, like his father, King Migadeippa, worshipped pagan gods fell in love with a young Buddhist girl. He married her, while ensuring that she may continue to practice Buddhism. But the King was furious at this religious practice. He sentenced her to death. However, while the young woman prayed to Buddha, the pagan idol broke. Frightened, the King converted to Buddhism which became widespread throughout the whole Kingdom.

Feet of Reclining Buddha in Bago in Myanmar
Feet of the Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha in Bago in Myanmar.

Depending on the orientation of the head, a Reclining Buddha may have different meanings. In Bago, the head of Buddha faces north, which means that Buddha attains nirvana. If the head is turned to the East, the statue represents Buddha's Enlightenment. If he is facing west, Buddha is teaching his disciples. If he, like the Chaukt Tat Gyi Reclining Buddha in Yangon, looks to the south, Buddha is resting.

Dharmachakra ('wheel of dharma") and distinctive signs of the Buddha depicting his life are engraved on the sole of the feet.

This statue has been restored on several occasions, including after the city was destroyed in 1757 and the statue abandoned during decades.

The Kyaikpun Pagoda near Bago in Myanmar
The Kyaikpun Pagoda near Bago in Myanmar.

The Kyaik Pun Pagoda is quite different from the other pagodas in the country. It brings together four giant seated Buddha: Gautama Buddha and his three predecessors (Kakusandha, Konagamana, and Kassapa). They sit around a square central pillar back to back to four directions. The statues are about 30 m (98 ft) high.

The long ears of Buddha symbolize his great wisdom. The current pagoda dates back to the fifteenth century. It was restored after the 1930 earthquake. The site is located 1.5 km from Bago.


See also

Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > Mandalay Mahamuni Buddha

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Pictures from Bago in Myanmar: pictures from the Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha and the Kyaik Pun Pagoda. Comprehensive travel guide to Myanmar with 200 great pictures.