The Sule Paya is a small pagoda located in the center of Yangon. The pagoda, known in Burmese as the Kyaik Athok Zedi, is surrounded by busy streets, a market and colonial era buildings like the Supreme court building and Yangon city halll.
According to legend the pagoda was built during the lifetime of the Gautama Buddha, about 2,500 years ago. The pagoda was much smaller at the time. It has been renovated and enlarged several times by later Kings. The paya reached its present height when it was renovated halfway the 15th century.
The Sule pagoda is named after Sularata, the Sule Nat (spirit) who lived at the spot where the pagoda now stands. According to legend Sularata, a Nat millions of years old found the spot where relics of the three reincarnations of the Buddha were buried, and the location where the Shwedagon pagoda was to be build some 2,500 years ago. Nat spirits have been worshipped for centuries in Burma, even before the arrival of Buddhism.
The Sule’s golden Mon style pagoda measures 44 meters high. Unusual in its design is its octagonal shape, that continues all the way up to the spire. The pagoda is topped with a hti (umbrella), a multi tiered ornamental element shaped as an umbrella. The Sule Paya is highly revered because it enshrines a hair relic of the Buddha. A steady flow of Burmese devotees make merit and bring offerings. Around the pagoda is a circular structure housing small shops where services as astrology and palmistry are offered.