Yele Pagoda – Sacred Pagoda Island on the Water

Myanmar, or Burma, is a country famous for its wonderous spiritual monuments. Some may argue that Yangon does not have that much monuments like in Bagan. That said, Yangon still has famous locations that all travelers have to visit, especially for the first time comers. In this time, we will discover a sacred site of Yangon: Yele Pagoda – Sacred Pagoda Island on the Water!

Origin

Yele Paya, or formerlly known as Kyaik Mhaw Won Paya, said to be built in the 3rd century BC under the reign of the seventh King Zeyasana of Pada Dynasty. Its name means ‘the pagoda in the middle of the water’, some also translated as ‘the Pagoda in mid-stream on a laterite reef’. This pagoda is one of the most ancient religious monuments in Burma (estimated about 2000 years old). Thus with its location, make this pagoda one of the most suggested destination for travelers.

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Behind every temple or pagoda, there is a story. And of course, Yele Pagoda is not an exception. Legend said that the pagoda preserved hair locks of Buddha and other relics. Some said that the tenth King Tutta Naga paid respect to the pagoda, and made three wishes: First – ‘May the water never flood this hallowed ground’. Second – ‘May this hallowed ground becomes an accomodation for visitors and pilgrims’. And third – ‘May this hallowed ground will bless those who protect this place’.

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Through many reigns, Yele Pagoda was repaired and renovated. And now what we see is a floating pagoda on the water. It still stands and seems to be able to withstand the devastation of time and water. Curiously, no matter low-tide or high-tide, the pagoda is not harmed by the water.

How to get there?

The pagoda is quite near to Yangon, about 20 kilometers to the South. From Yangon, you can get to Yele Paya area by taxi with 45 minutes, or bus with about an hour and a half. As a floating pagoda, the only way to visit Yele Paya is via boat. Interestingly, foreigners have to take foreigner’s large boats instead of the locals’ small boats. The authority explains that this is for safety reason. Well… it actually makes sense if we consider thievery (it’s still speculation though). The boat fee is about 5 $USD, and the entrance fee is 2 $USD so total it costs 7 $USD to get in the pagoda. Visitors, the locals and travelers alike, are not allowed to walk in with shoes. You will have to leave the shoes with attendants, or bring them along with a plastic bag.

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* Opening Time: 6 AM – 6 PM

What to do?

The trip around Yele Pagoda does not really have many activities, but it offers interesting experience in this hallowed ground, and gorgeous sights to see. This 2000-year-old pagoda followed the ancient architectural design, notable the golden multi-tiered rooftop called as Pyatthat. In the inner hall, from here visitors can see an impressive golden Buddha image. Here, you can also see the locals praying at their nats (or ancestral spirits).

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From the island, visitors can have perfect chances to photograph the surrounding area, religious activities,… In case you need of somewhere to rest, there are restaurants and souvenir shops around the island’s coastal area. In the nearby water, you will also see fishes. Of course, you can’t catch them, but you can feed them or watch children doing it.

The overall pagoda’s atmosphere is calm and peaceful, gives out a tranquil and relaxing feeling to visitors.

After visiting Yele Pagoda, you can travel to other well-praised locations like the 100-year-old buildings from colonial period, or Kyaik Khauk Pagoda.

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