The Kaunghmudaw Paya lies in North Western Sagaing, beyond Sagaing Hill. It is very unusual in Myanmar for having an egg or onion shaped stupa, which is a near perfect hemisphere. You will find some guides trying to tell the story that the dome design is based on the breast of King Thalun's favourite wife, however, although that makes for an entertaining story, it is almost certainly untrue and indeed many Burmese are, understandably, very offended by that story. The much more likely story is that the dome is modelled on the Mahaceti, aka Rajamanisula Pagoda, of Sri Lanka (which can still be seen) and that was in turn modelled on a Sri Lankan 'rice-stack' – similar to a haystack,
The stupa was built by King Thalun in 1636-1648 to commemorate the re-establishment of Inwa (Ava) as the Shan capital. The temple is particularly important as there are a number of Buddhist relics including reputedly part of Buddha's tooth and an emerald bowl. The ritual hti 'holy umbrella' on top of the stupa is also famous. There are 802 stone pillars around the Pagoda (some 'authorities' say 812 pillars but I didn't bother to check!) plus 120 'nat' and 'deva' spirit images placed around the circumference of the stupa. The stupa is 46m high and has a 271 metre circumference, and 10,126,552 bricks are meant to have been used in the construction of the vast stupa. There is also a large white marble seated Buddha in a hollowed out base to the Pagoda. Even the rest of the complex is great to see as the temple is full of small glistening tiles, great fun even if it isn't meant to be seen that way!
There has been significant local controversy recently as the stupa was originally all white, to represent purity, but a couple of years ago the Government decided to gild the dome, despite local opposition. Personally I think it looks great either in white (they have photos at the Pagoda showing the original colours) or gold, both are impressive. Also, although we didn't see it, one of the most important festivals of the year for Sagaing is held every year at this temple during the November full moon festival,
If you are in Sagaing then definitely this is one of the major sites to visit.
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