Kuthodaw Pagoda, Home of the World’s Largest Book

It’s known as the world’s largest book. But it doesn’t look much like any book you’ve seen before.

Kyauksa Gu for World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Last Updated:

It’s known as the world’s largest book. But it doesn’t look much like any book you’ve seen before.

Each of the 729 “pages” is a large marble tablet inscribed with text from the Tipitaka (some of the Buddhist scriptures). The text was originally in gold, but it has long since weathered away. Each page is housed in its own individual white stupa. They radiate out in concentric squares from a central golden stupa. From the air, it looks like a remarkably uniform above-ground cemetery.

The earliest dated example of the written Burmese language (dated to 1112 or 1113) is on a stone slab at Myazedi Stupa near Old Bagan.

The main stupa is modeled after the 11th-century Shwezigon Pagoda in Nyaung-U, near Bagan. But this one is much newer, dating back to the 1860s during the reign of King Mindon.

Photos of Kuthodaw Pagoda

Gold Stupa of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
The large central gold stupa. It’s modeled on the much older Shwezigon Pagoda in Nyaung-U. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Tablets of the World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
A close-up of part of one of the pages etched in marble. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kyauksa Gu for World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
A covered walkway from the main entrance to the interior of the complex. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Main Entrance of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
The main entrance to the compound. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Main Entrance of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Stupa of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kyauksa Gu for World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Tablets of the World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Another of the marble tablets. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Stupa of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kyauksa Gu for World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Stupa of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Stupa of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kyauksa Gu for World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Stupa of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kyauksa Gu for World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
As is traditional, each stupa is topped with a hti, or umbrella (or crown). Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Stupa of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
The hti on top of the central stupa. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kyauksa Gu for World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kyauksa Gu for World's Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Rows of small white stupas, each containing a page of the book, run in concentric squares radiating from the large golden central stupa. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Gold Stupa of Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

What To Know Before You Go

Kuthodaw Pagoda is located at the foot of Mandalay Hill and not far from Shwenandaw Golden Palace Monastery.

It’s the site of a major festival in the October full moon as people gather and light candles within the grounds.

Yep, you guessed it: you’ll have to take your shoes off as with any Buddhist holy site.

Map

Where to Next?

David Coleman / Photographer
by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »