The story of the Botataung Pagoda (also spelled Bo Ta Htaung or Botahtaung) began at least 1500 ago: King Sihadipa (of the Thaton Kingdom, a Mon state) and his queen held an assembly of one thousand armed generals at the bank of Yangon river, called Dagon Jetty at the time, now known as Bo Ta Htaung Jetty meaning 1000 generals Jetty. The assembly was to welcome the landing of Buddha Hair Relics and enshrine the sacred hair at the place for 6 months. This king constructed the Pagoda to hold the relics and other artifacts
The original pagoda was destroyed during World War II from bombing raids. When the new pagoda was constructed, a new mirrored maze-like walkway in was added in the interior with glass showcases for the ancient Buddha relic and other artifacts. The height and other architectural aspects retain the original structure’s designs. According to the terracotta plaques founded when the casket was opened, the script date from the ancient Mon kingdom.
This 40 meter high golden pagoda is located on the banks of Yangon River and is now one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks. Full moon days are the busiest with thousands of worshippers bringing flowers and candles. The pagoda hosts the Hta Ma Ne food festival – famous for sticky rice with coconut and sesame seeds.
At the side of the pagoda, there is Nat (spirit) pavilion, and a monument to Bo Bo Gyi, believed to be the guard of the pagoda. These pavilions are busy with worshippers every day, offering a coconuts and bananas. There is also a bridge over a pond with fish and turtles – which get fed too!
The pagoda opens daily from 6 o’clock in the morning until around 9 o’clock at night. Some occasions, the pagoda open until 11 pm.
Entrance fee for foreign visitors is USD 3 per person while all local visitors are free of charge. Before entering the compound, shoes must be taken off, and there is shoe keeper service nearby.
Hiring a taxi to Bo Ta Htaung Pagoda is quite easy and costs between 2500 kyats to 4000 kyats within the city. For public transportation buses 35, 48 and 216 will bring you there. If you are already in the downtown area, you just need to walk till the Strand Road, then you see the Yangon River and proceed East.
Article and photos by: Grace
Editor’s note: not much information seems available online about Sihadipa, King of Thaton, but readers are directed to an interesting set of lists on Wikipedia: Early and Legendary Monarchs of Burma