The Mystical Allure of the Stupa
On a luxury vacation to Myanmar or other countries in Southeast Asia with A&K, you’re bound to see some graceful stupas dotting the plains and fields surrounding you. They are, perhaps, the region’s most readily recognizable man-made feature.
Usually bell- or dome-shaped in design and often gilded and bejeweled, stupas are monuments of great significance for devout Buddhists. Most stupas are constructed of solid brick over an earthen base, with small chambers built into them that enshrine objects of spiritual importance, such as relics of the Buddha, sacred images and holy scriptures. Pilgrims worship at a stupa by walking around its outside base, usually clockwise — an experience that can prove meditative for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. Many believe that circumambulating a stupa purifies negative karma and fosters realizations of the path to enlightenment. Visitors are usually welcome to partake of this experience, taking care to observe the customs of any devotees present.
Renowned stupas you may visit with A&K include Mahamuni Paya in Mandalay, home to a golden statue of the Guatama Buddha that is believed to have been cast in his presence; Ananda Temple in Bagan, named for the disciple and faithful servant of the Buddha; and 2,600-year-old Shwedagon Paya in Yangon, a 325-feet-tall wonder adorned with jewels and an estimated 30 tons of gold.