General View of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda from South showing the entrance and steps leading to the Pagoda, [Rangoon].
Photographer: Bourne and Shepherd
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the southern entrance to the Shwe Dagon Paya in Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar), taken by Bourne and Shepherd in the 1870s and part of the Gladstone Collection. The gilded spire of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda can be seen from all over Rangoon from its position atop Singuttara Hill. According to traditional history, the Shwe Dagon, the most revered of all the Buddhist monuments of Burma, was founded in the lifetime of the Buddha as a reliquary to enshrine eight hairs from his head brought back from India by two merchant brothers, Tapissa and Balika. While the core of the stupa may be very ancient, the whole is relatively more recent. King Binnya U of Pegu (1353-85) had it rebuilt to 60 ft (18 ms) in height. During the 15th century it was rebuilt several times, eventually reaching 90 ms (it now stands at about 100 ms). During this period the tradition of gilding the stupa was begun under the aegis of Queen Shinsawbu (1453-72), who donated her own weight in gold (40 kgs). British troops occupied its precincts in 1824 and again in 1852 and it remained under military control until the 1920s. There are four covered walkways up Singuttara Hill to the platform on which the pagoda stands. The southern entrance is considered the main entrance.