National Geographic : 1963 Feb
from his head and gave to two Burmese mer chants who had traveled to India. One ruler after another enlarged and em bellished this shrine. An 18th-century king, Sinbyushin of Ava, raised the gold-leaf covered spire to its present height of 326 feet. In 1871 King Mindon added a new hti ("tee"), or umbrella crown, and studded it with $150,000 worth of gold, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. Devout worshipers by the thousands daily climb barefooted up the long flights of steps 166 to the hilltop terrace, 168 feet above the sur rounding city, from which the solid masonry pagoda spires upward into the sky. Others take a new and easier way up-one of two elevators in towers beside the shrine. These towers are connected to the hilltop terrace by high covered walkways. I was determined to walk. I took off my shoes-for signs in English at the entrances say "Footwearing Strictly Prohibited"-and climbed the steps past rows of stalls selling flowers, toys, gilded Buddhas, and incense.