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Center of the Universe

By Linda Tancs

The center of the universe in Buddhist cosmology is the mythical Mount Meru (not to be confused with the active stratovolcano of the same name in Tanzania). It’s depicted at the base of a snow-white pagoda in Myanmar known as Hsinbyume in the form of circular terraces representing the mountain peaks. The imposing structure was commissioned centuries ago by Prince Bagyidaw to honor the memory of Princess Hsinbyume (literally, White Elephant), who died during childbirth. Climb the stairway to the top and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the banks of the Irrawaddy River and its accompanying vistas north of Mandalay.

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