Shwemyetman Paya

Myanmar (Burma)

South of Pyay, you'll find an oversized buddha wearing a gargantuan set of eyeglasses with gold-plated rims.

Spectacles were first added to the image during the Konbaung era, when a nobleman offered them to the temple in an attempt to stimulate local faith through curiosity. Word soon spread that the bespectacled buddha had the power to cure all ills, especially afflictions of the eyes. The first pair of spectacles was stolen at an early stage, and a second pair was made and enshrined inside the image to protect it from thieves.

An English officer stationed in Pyay during the colonial era had a third pair fitted over the buddha’s eyes after his wife suffered from eye trouble and the abbot suggested such a donation. Naturally, as the story goes, she was cured. This pair is now in a display case to the left of the image.

Coming south from Pyay, the turn-off for Shwemyetman is located on the right-hand side of the road; a green-and-white sign reads, ‘Shwe Myet Hman Buddha Image – 1 Furlong’. And, just in case you're wondering, a furlong is 201m.