A Little Siteseeing…Burma’s Three Holiest Buddhist Sites: Mahamuni Buddha

I wanted to understand more about the three holiest site in Burma, so I went and visited Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon (the former capital), the Golden Rock on Mount Kyaiktiyo, and Mahamuni in Mandalay. If you’re a Buddhist in Burma, then visiting these three sites is very important and a pilgrimage, and it’s good luck to see all three in one year!  We did the three in our three weeks, and this is the third site, my visit to Mahamuni.

Praying at the Mahamuni Buddha Temple

The last of the three holy Buddhist sites I went to was Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay, Burma. We got there by riding in a trishaw which I think is a fantastic invention and a great way to get around Myanmar. A trishaw, is a regular bike that has something else attached to it with wheels meant to carry two people, or a bunch of cargo stacked on itself.

Riding in a bicycle trishaw in Mandalay.

My trishaw and I going around Mandalay for the day.

Going to Mahamuni with a trishaw was the best way to get there because I sat in the back, and I could see life passing by in front of me. It’s sometimes scary riding in one, because in Myanmar, I feel like people don’t know how to drive. So, when I was sitting in the back, cars would almost hit my legs because the drivers would pull up so close to the trishaw I was sitting in, like, 6 inches away!

But, a tip is, if you’re going to ride on a trishaw for a long time like we did, I highly suggest you do it after 3:00 in the afternoon because it is sooooooo hot.

But, back to Mahamuni.

Mahamuni Pagoda

The outside of the Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay, with the Buddha inside.

When I first got there, I couldn’t see the Mahamuni Buddha, which is what we were there to see.  After we walked around the temple, we found the Mahamuni statue by searching for the area where there are people praying to the Buddha and surely enough, that’s how I found it. We found it in what  looked like a hole inside a cave. In pictures, Mahamuni Buddha looks so big, but it’s actually not as I thought before we saw it ourselves.

Mahamuni in Mandalay

The cave-like gold surrounding the Mahamuni Buddha inside the temple.

The Buddha was surrounded by only men, once again, rubbing gold on Mahamuni. This was the same thing at Kyaitiyo’s Golden Rock. It was incredible how shinny Buddha’s face is on the statue. The reason it’s so shinny is because everyday at 4:00am, they brush it’s teeth and I think they might even clean it’s face!

Right beside the Mahamuni monument, there is a picture timeline of what the statue looked like in certain years, first in the early 1900s, then year’s later and then modern-day Mahamuni. I was so surprised to see how different it looked. Seriously!! There has been so much gold rubbed on the statue that I couldn’t even make out it’s hands anymore.

What the Mahamuni Buddha looks like over the years with more and more gold!

Mahamuni over the past 100 years, getting thicker with gold.

Over the period of about 100 years, there has been six inches of solid gold rubbed on it.

Mahamuni wasn’t what I expected, we couldn’t get very close, but it was still pretty cool how much it had changed and how many people are praying to the Buddha each day.

Of the three major sites in Burma, I don’t know which one I like most. They each have something different with one another but still has something so great about it. Shwedagon Pagoda is really humungous, I love what the people believe is keeping Kyaitiyo’s Golden Rock from falling, and Mahamuni is quite impressive because of how much gold is rubbed on on it and how many people there are praying to the Buddha. Everyone should try to see these sites if they come to Burma because it taught me a lot about the Burmese people and their religion!

About Ana

I've got heart and soul, and stories waiting to be told. In 2011, I first left the US and was homeschooled from Southeast Asia by my aunt for 6+ months. Now, I travel with her in the summers and share my stories here. I've visited 7+ countries and counting! "Wherever you go, go with all your heart" — Confuscious

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