The Sagaing Hills are dotted with pagodas and there are over 500 monasteries, a retreat for some 6000 monks and nuns. Ywahtaung village (home of the silversmiths' guilds) is a place worth visiting. The best known of the Sagaing stupas, Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, situated 10 km beyond the town of Sagaing. The enormous dome, whose name means work of great merit, rises 46 m in the shape of a perfect hemisphere and was modeled after the Mahaceti (Great Stupa) in Sri Lanka. Around the base of the pagoda are 812 stone pillars, each one is 1.5 m high and with a small hollow for an oil lamp.
The Kaunghmudaw is known for its egg-shaped design, which stands out among more traditional-style, pyramid-shaped Burmese pagodas. The stupa's formal name Yaza Mani Sula signifies the enshrinement of Buddhist relics inside its relic chamber. But it is commonly known by its popular name, Kaunghmudaw (lit. "Royal Merit-Making"). It is an important pilgrimage and tourist destination in the Sagaing area.
Construction of Kaunghmudaw Pagoda:
Construction began in 1636 during the reign of King Thalun. The precise date of the construction is recorded as the 10th waxing of Tawthalin of 998 ME. It was finished in 1650, during the reign of his son and successor, Pindale
Architecture of Kaunghmudaw Pagoda:
The pagoda is 46 meters high and has a circumference of 274 meters. The hti (umbrella or crowning) of the pagoda is 7.92 meters high and weighs 3.5 kilograms (3440 viss). The pagoda differs from the traditional Burmese-style pyramidal structures by having an arched image chamber in the center of its base. The chamber houses a massive seated 7.3 meter-high Buddha statute, carved out of solid white marble. The head of the Buddha statute alone is about 2.4 meters in diameter. It is believed that the dome was built later around the massive statute. The lowest terrace of the pagoda is decorated with 120 nats and devas. It is ringed by 802 stone lanterns, carved with inscriptions of Buddha's life in three languages: Burmese, Mon and Shan Yuan, representing the three main regions of Restored Toungoo Kingdom. The pagoda dome has been continuously painted white to signify purity, in Ceylonese tradition. According to local lore, the relic chamber of the pagoda contains the lower left tooth relic of the Buddha, 11 hair relics, an alms bowl, statues, pagodas and other relics.