Yangon’s history is rich, ancient and complex; the present site of the city was destroyed in a fire during the second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852, when the British seized Rangoon.
In 1853 the city was rebuilt to its current plan. After the British had captured Upper Burma in the third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885, Rangoon was finally declared as the colonial capital of British-ruled Burma (Myanmar). Colonial Rangoon,
with its spacious parks, lakes, mix of contemporary and traditional architecture soon became known as ‘the garden city of the east’. Most importantly and tying in very closely to its early history, is the magnificent 2,000-year-old Buddhist pagoda, Shwedagon, where eight of Buddha’s hairs are said to be enshrined. At the heart of the city, a golden pinnacle around which everything else revolves, Shwedagon dominates the city’s skyline and the revered pagoda draws people to it from around the world. In his 1930’s novel ‘The Gentleman in the Parlour’, Somerset Maugham was so inspired by the beauty of the pagoda to write: “The Shwedagon rose superb, glistening with its gold, like a sudden hope in the dark night of the soul”. This majestic stupa is outstanding no matter when it is seen, but the best time of day is at sunset, when the sun’s rays emblaze the golden pagoda, lighting up the night sky; it truly is a spectacular and special sight.