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Kuthodaw Pagoda in 360°
The gilded stupa of Kuthodaw Pagoda was modeled after Shwezigon Pagoda at Nyaung-U near Bagan. Construction of the building was begun in 1857 by King Mindon, who wanted to leave a great work by merit and thus decided to create the world's largest book around the central stupa.
1. What to see
There are altogether 730 small white stupas spotted around the central one, each of them containing an inscribed marble slab. The texts describe Tripitaka, teachings of Theravada Buddhism according to the Pali Canon which is a collection of scriptures in Pali language.
Carving work was carried out in a special hall within King Mindon’s Royal Palace and it took 8 years to complete inscribing texts by 1868. There are 3 books of Sutta Pitaka on 410, 5 books of Vinaya Pitaka on 111, 7 books of Abhidhamma Pitaka on 208 marble slabs. They are arranged in neat rows within three enclosures, 42 in the first, 168 in the middle and 519 in the third. Finally the last marble slab is about the construction of the book, standing at the southeast corner of the first enclosure.
Just a few statistics: if the slabs would be stacked vertically, they would rise up to 103 meters. It would take about 450 days to read the entire book if someone would spend 8 hours a day reading it. With the help of nonstop reading, it would only take 5-6 months to complete the book – this is exactly what King Mindon did when he collected the 5th Buddhist Synod in 1871 and used a team of 2400 monks to read the whole book.