From atop its square base within a thicket of gardens, the Werawsana Jade Pagoda towers alongside an expressway. It’s hard to miss the kaleidoscope of gemstones that gleams from its every inch.
The entire pagoda is made from jade. According to Myanmar’s government, it’s the first pagoda in the world constructed solely from the precious stone. It’s a fitting choice of gemstone, as Myanmar produces almost 70 percent of the world’s supply of jadeite, a type of jade.
Work on the monumental structure began in 2012 and didn’t finish until 2015. Even before construction started, a jewelry trader named U Soe Naing spent about 25 years collecting and stockpiling all the jade. He had to gather over 11,000 tons of the stones to build the pagoda.
A series of chambers for praying and making merit ring the roughly 75-foot-tall structure. The exterior walls are inlaid with arrays of carved amulets, sculpted leaves, and inscriptions. There are also carved jade footprints of Buddha, where devotees and pilgrims can leave monetary donations.
In combination with the Jade Market in Mandalay, this is really the best place to see excellent examples of the stone used within the context of Buddhism. This site is a must-see on the itinerary of gem enthusiasts. Friends will turn jade-green with envy when they see your gleaming snaps.
Know Before You Go
Best visited by taxi from Mandalay, perhaps combining the trip with U Bein Bridge and the Snake Temple which are both relatively nearby.