Have you ever thought how the world’s largest book would look like? Perhaps it is a hardcover or a paperback? Containing thousands of pages? Well, the largest book looks nothing like a conventional one. In fact, its pages consist of 729 marble slabs, each about 1.5 meters by 1.1 meters and about 14 centimeters thick. You can see or read it at Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar.
One of the temple’s most recognizable features is the 30 meter high golden Maha Lawka Marazein Stupa. But of course, the main attraction here is that big book, placed in smaller pagodas (yes, all 729 pages are in each individual one) that surround the central shrine. They are arranged in neat rows within three enclosures, 42 in the first, 168 in the middle and 519 in the third. The slabs were carved from the white Sagyin Hill marble found just a few miles north of Mandalay.
So, what’s the book about? It is actually a sacred Buddhist scripture chronicling text from the religion’s holy book called the Tiptaka. Both ends of the slabs are covered, with text written in the ancient language of Pali. It took 2400 monks and about two years of sculpture work to create this record breaking scripture, which was finished in 1872. The text was originally written in gold, but that has phased out through time.
We already mentioned the dimensions of the slabs. But imagine this. If we were to place one on top of each other, it’d be 103 meters high. If we were to lay them out across the field horizontally, we’d get a book that is approximately one third of an acre!
The complex is perhaps one of the finest smelling ones out there. That’s because of the fragrance from the nearby star flower trees. One of these trees, located on the southwest inner terrace is believed to be at least 250 years old. These trees are also great spot for a picnic. It is common to see Burmese families enjoy a meal under the shade while children pick the flowers or play near the shrines.
New to Myanmar? No worries, so are a lot of people. What you can do though is to experience the essentials. Here, you’ll visit all the main sights, as well as the hidden gems and blend in with the locals, perhaps some of the friendliest people in the world. For more on Burma, see our tours page here.
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