Shwe San Daw Pagoda is a cylindrical stupa with five terraces, showing Mon style architecture of the early 11th Century A.D.
Steep stairways on all four sides of the receding terraces lead to the base of the pagoda from where visitors can see numerous temples in Bagan. The pagoda is also a popular sunset-viewing spot, as it is the highest point where you can perfectly see the sun go down. As Shwe San Daw pagoda is one of the tallest pagodas in Bagan with a height of 328 feet, and is even visible from far away on Bagan land.
The pagoda was renovated by the board of trustees, led by the monk Sayadaw U Wayama in 1957. Today, it looks like a modern structure although the whole structure of the pagoda is in its original condition. 50 bronze statues of Buddha were discovered near Shwe San Daw forest monk’s monastery while renovating the pagoda. These statues are exhibited at Archeological Museum.
Shwe San Daw is literally translated as “Golden Hair Relics” in Myanmar language. There are four Shwe San Daw Pagodas in Myanmar. Shwe San Daw Pagoda in Bagan is one of the four Buddhist monuments having the same name. The other ones are located in Taungoo, Pyay and Twante. It is believed that Buddha’s sacred hairs were enshrined in all the pagodas with this name.
According to tradition, King Anawrahta had the pagoda built to enshrine hair relics of the Buddha, which he had brought back from Thaton after his conquest of Mon Kingdom.