Buddhist pagodas and temples are ubiquitous in Burma, but first-time visitors could be forgiven for getting the two confused.A�There exist two main types of Buddhist monuments in Burma: pagodas and temples.A�
A pagoda (paya in Burmese) consists of a stupa and its surrounding enclosure. The stupa itself (also known as a zedi, the local pronunciation of the Pali cetiya) is a memorial structure containing a relic chamber beneath (or sometimes above) the bell-shaped central portion. They come in all sizes, from tiny ones in stucco to vast towers plastered in solid gold. Larger ones are generally built on several terraces, by means of which devotees walk around the shrine in a clockwise direction.
a�?Templea�� is something of a misnomer. According to Theravada Buddhism, there can be no such thing as a a�?place of worshipa�� because the Buddha is not a god. Rather, the temple is seen as a place for meditation. The Burmese origin of the term is ku, derived from the Pali guha, or a�?cavea�� a�� reflecting the cultural origins of the buildings, which were in the time of the Buddha more often rock-cut hollows used by monks as places of retreat, study and contemplation.