“Don’t miss Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha Statue!” – This is a right advice when you plan to travel in Bago, Myanmar.
Located in the west of the city, outdoor Shwethalyaung Buddha is the second largest Reclining Buddha Statue in the world with 55 meters long (180ft) and 16 meters tall (52 ft). According to some historical documents and folk legends, it was constructed by King Migadippa I in 994. However, there was an invasion in 1957 by foreign invaders, which destroyed nearly all of ancient Bago city. After Bago’s resident run away, no one preserved the statue, so it was buried under thick vegetation of rainforest in a long time. Over 100 years later, a group of workers who built the Yangon-Bago railway rediscovered it at random. The image began to be restored as originally, added a pavilion as a shield from the effects of weather in 1906 and Buddha’s mosaic pillows on its left side in 1930.
It’s easy to see why Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha Statue is one of the most sacred and revered elephants in Myanmar. The huge size makes visitors overwhelmed and felt small before the greatness and grandeur of the Buddha. Each stage in the life of The Lord Buddha is described in different posture, and Buddha in the reclining position represents the holiest period when he began the final stage of nirvana and reached to the completed enlightenment.The gentle face with a serene smile of Buddha seems ready to enter nirvana and completely freed from all karma of humanity. On the statue's back, there are art images describing the life towards enlightenment of Buddha and the origin of statue. The symbols carved on Buddha’s foot are rather complex but very exquisite; hiding magical things in Buddhism. All details were decorated with bright colors accordance with Myanmar's ancient architecture, but yellow is still the mainstream. This image is also an incisive reminder to all Buddhists and travelers that after the death, a new better life is waiting for good people. When looking at the statue, visitors will feel that their soul is in peace and the burdens of life seem to disappear.
Nowadays, a temple was built around Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha Statue. There are plenty of souvenir shops along the stairway leading to the Buddha with affordable prices – where travelers can find souvenirs, antiques or small wood statues, and so on. The food here is mainly vegetarian food made by tofu, so if you don’t like it, you should prepare food and drink before. Moreover, tourists have to pay a minimal tax for camera, about 300 MMK or 30 eurocents.