Shwedagon Pagoda is known in English as the Great Dagon Pagoda and the Golden Pagoda, is a 99 metres (325 ft) gilded pagoda and stupa located in Yangon, Burma.The pagoda lies to the west of Kandawgyi Lake, on Singuttara Hill, thus dominating the skyline of the city.
It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese with relics of the past four Buddhas enshrined within: the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight strands of hair from Gautama, the historical Buddha. Uppatasanti Pagoda is an exact replica of Shwedagon Pagoda in Naypyidaw, the new capital of Burma.
According to legend, the Shwedagon Pagoda has existed for more than 2,600 years, making it the oldest historical pagoda in Burma and the world. According to tradition, two merchant brothers, Taphussa and Bhallika, from the land of Ramanya, met the Lord Gautama Buddha during his lifetime and received eight of the Buddha’s hairs in BC 588. The brothers traveled back to their homeland in Burma and, with the help of the local ruler, King Okkalapa of Burma, found Singuttara Hill, where relics of other Buddhas preceding Gautama Buddha had been enshrined.
According to some historians and archaeologists, however, the pagoda was built by the Mon people between the 6th and 10th centuries CE. The stupa fell into disrepair until the 14th century, when the Mon king Binnya U of Bago had the stupa rebuilt to a height of 18 m (59 ft).
A century later, Queen Shinsawbu (1453–72), Dhammazedi’s mother-in-law, raised its height to 40 m (131 ft). She terraced the hill on which it stands, paved the top terrace with flagstones, and assigned land and hereditary slaves for its maintenance. She yielded up the throne to Dhammazedi in 1472, retiring to Dagon; during her last illness she had her bed placed so that she could rest her dying eyes upon the gilded dome of the sacred fane.
The Mon face of the Shwe Dagon inscription catalogues a list of repairs beginning in 1436 and finishing during Dhammazedi’s reign. It mentions Queen Shinsawbu under a Pali name of sixty-six letters. By the beginning of the 16th century the pagoda had become the most famous place of pilgrimage in Burma.