Aung Sakkya Pagoda
Dominating Monywa’s skyline, the 400-foot-tall Aung Sakkya pagoda is surrounded by more than a thousand smaller pagodas that contain scores of Buddha images. Monywa is also known for its Maha Bodhi Tahtaung site, where giant reclining and standing Buddha statues loom over the hillside.
A nation long shrouded in mystery, Myanmar has only recently emerged from decades of isolation under a violent military regime and opened its borders to tourism. Gilded stupas, stepped temples, and candlelit monasteries pepper the landscape, revealing a long spiritual tradition that dates back to the first century C.E. Though it has no official religion, an estimated 90 percent of the country's population practices Theravada Buddhism.
More than 100 ethnic groups reside in Myanmar, and in recent years the government has come under scrutiny for a troubling upsurge of religious violence targeting Muslim and Christian minorities, including the destruction of non-Buddhist holy sites.
- Nat Geo Expeditions