Bawgyo Paya


Five miles west of Hsipaw, beside the Hsipaw–Kyaukme road, this pagoda is of great significance to Shan people and gets overloaded with pilgrims who arrive en masse during the annual Bawgyo Paya Pwe, culminating on the full-moon day of Tabaung (February/March). The pagoda’s current incarnation is an eye-catching 1995 structure of stepped gilded polygons, within which the dome supposedly incorporates genuine rubies.

The name translates loosely as ‘Dad, come and get me’, referencing the original pagoda, which was built centuries earlier by a heartbroken Shan king who had married off his daughter, warrior princess Saw Mun La, to the Burmese king as part of a Shan-Burmese peace deal. The Burmese king adored her, but, as she was the seventh wife in his harem, her presence and growing favour caused trouble. Jealous concubines set about denouncing her as a spy. The king didn’t fall for the lies but realised that he’d better get her out of his court before the other wives murdered her. The plan should have worked, but on the long, arduous route back to her father’s court she fell ill. The Shan king was sent for but arrived to find her already dead of a mystery illness. The point where she died became the site of a pagoda to underline Shan-Burmese friendship.

You'll get a brief glimpse of the temple from the right-hand side of any Kyaukme- or Mandalay-bound bus.

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