Mahamuni Buddha Temple
Dazzling gold archways greet visitors to the Mahamuni Temple. Small stalls selling souvenirs line either side of the corridor until one comes to the end of the hall. The corridor continues to the Mahamuni statue, which sits in an elevated perch at the end.
Rows of pilgrims kneel in front of the Buddha and pray. Off to the side, a line, which only permits men, leads worshipers to a staircase rising up to the elevated Mahamuni statue. Many will apply gold leaf onto the Buddha. After years of gold leaf applications, bulbous shapes have formed in the most commonly applied areas. The gold not only signifies the color of enlightenment but is also a way for parishioners to gain favor.
This is such a revered sculpture of Buddha because it is said to be an exact image of the Enlightened One. Legend tells it has been around since the time of Buddha when he visited Rakhine state. Buddha then breathed on it and the image became his exact likeness.
The Mahamuni originally rested in the Arakan state until 1784, until the Burmese King Bodawpaya conquered the Kingdom. He then transported the massive Buddha statue to Mandalay, where it has remained to this day.