Botataung Pagoda – One of Yangon’s Most Distinctive Landmarks

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

Botataung Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar
Botataung Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar

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.

Originally enclosed in the center of the stupa, the important relics at Botataung are now visible to worshippers entering the interior
Originally enclosed in the center of the stupa, the important relics at Botataung are now visible to worshippers entering the interior

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.

Since the pagoda watched over the charming water front of Yangon River, most families come to visit the Pagoda in the evening then to get the fresh air with a few walk nearby Jetty beside the pagoda. This is also the hub for the people who will across the river with the small ferries in the dark. It is definitely pleasurable moment to see the sunset over the River and golden pagoda, worth to visit while in Yangon.
The pagoda overlooks the charming waterfront of the Yangon River: many families come to visit the Pagoda in the evening and walk along the nearby jetty. You can also cross the river in a small ferry including at night: a good choice particularly at sunset, watching the light on the golden pagodas of Yangon.

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