An oft-cited maxim about the myriad of Bagan temples goes: “the fame that is Shwezigon, the beauty that is Ananda, the height that is Thatbyinnyu, and the mass that is Dhammayangyi”. Shwezigon (situated in Nyaung Oo, close to Bagan) is, hence, the most renowned of all in Bagan.
Assembled by King Anawrahta, the originator of the first Myanmar Empire, who left it in an unfinished state and it was finished by Kyanzittha (1084 – 1113ad), Shwezigon pagoda is a robust round and hollow structure resting on three square terraces. It has a bold waist-band round the bell formed arch. The Shwezigon was held in unique veneration by successive kings because of the way that it contained sacred relics – the holy tooth, neckline bone and frontlet relics- of the Buddha. In addition, it as well turned into the model for later Myanmar stupas. Shwezigon is known as the site where the 37 prebuddhist nats were first formally endorsed by the Bamar monarchy.
Enameled plaques in boards around the base of the stupa outline scenes from the past lives of the Buddha. At the cardinal focuses, confronting the terrace stairways, are four shrines, each of which houses a 4m-high bronze standing Buddha cast in 1102, these figures are Bagan biggest surviving bronze Buddhas.