The Botataung Pagoda is situated near the Yangon River in Myanmar. It is believed to have been built around the same time as Shwedagon Pagoda, 2500 years ago. The pagoda is a hollow structure that houses what is reckoned to be a sacred hair of Gautama Buddha. During World War II, the place was completely destroyed and later rebuilt.
The name ‘Botataung’ literally translates into "1000 military officers". When the relics of Buddha arrived in Burma at a hillock near this pagoda’s site, the king summoned 1000 military officers as a guard of honor to welcome the landing. Historic accounts state that Buddhist king Sihadipa gave a sacred hair of Buddha and two body relics to a minister. This minister consulted a religious leader and upon his advice chose the Botataung Mount to enshrine these holy remnants.
World War II and Rebuilding
On November 8, 1943, the pagoda was completely destroyed and left in blackened ruins in a bombing near Yangon by RAF. The restoration started on the day of independence of Burma, 4 January 1948. During the excavation process, a relic chamber was discovered inside the pagoda. There was a beautifully carved stone casket inside, which held numerous treasures of the past, precious stones, ornaments, jewelry, terracotta plaques and images of gold, silver, brass and stone.
Upon removing another layer of stone, one more similar casket was found with gold plating and carvings done on it. Besides jewels, there was a small golden pagoda found inside the casket. When the pagoda was lifted, there was a small gold cylinder in it, which contained the two body relics and a sacred hair of Buddha.
The rebuilt pagoda has the original design and measures 131 ft. 8 inch high and 96 ft. x 96 ft is the base area. The hollow stupa inside has a mirrored maze-like walkway. The glass showcases along this walk display the artifacts that were found during the excavation.
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