The Botahtaung pagoda stands on the bank of the Yangon River, East Yangon. The locality is a busy waterfront with wharves and their daily traffic of steamers and boats.
The pagoda was completely destroyed during the war and a new edifice stands in its place. The original structure dated back to 2000 years and the relics were enshrined there, as happened in the story of the Sule Pagoda. With all its humdrum surroundings of feverish activity of the waterfront, Botahtaung pagoda has its own magic. The name itself conjures up a panorama of scenes played by the cast of the thousands, thousands of men in colorful liveries, banners flying, music playing, as the construction of the pagoda goes underway, under the supervision of the king and his ministers. Botahtaung means a thousand liveried men.
One of the shrines is a remarkable ancient Buddha statue. It is called (Returner to the Blessed land). It is seven feet in high and it had been brought back from the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was one of the artifacts taken away during the first years of the British annexation of Myanmar.
In many pagodas in Myanmar, there can be seen Buddha statues, bells, and other objects which bear the appellation. Those who grew up during the British colonial regime still have memories of visiting pagodas, where a Buddha statue or a bell, was pointed to them with the commentary: Look, it is the Returner to the Blessed Land; it was taken away by the white men, who took away our king and who now rule our country. It was put in the Buckingham Palace. But Queen Victoria had a severe headache, which could not be cured by the best doctors. At last, she had to order that statue be returned to where it came from.
In spite of the questionable authenticity of these stories, they had been handed down from generation to generation. It was perhaps a way of impressing the young minds with the unyielding resistance of the spirit against foreign domination.
There are about forty pagodas around Yangon. Some of them are right in the middle of the monasteries. Monks and lay devotees see to the repair and maintenance of such pagodas. The usual activities, like seasonal festivals, family celebrations, and novitiation continuously take place in these pagodas.