Though there are many libraries in Yangon, the Pitaka Taik – three basket – library ranks as one of the most ornate.
Prime Minister U Nu, a devout Buddhist, convened the Sixth Great Buddhist Synod between 1954 and 1956 (the 5th was held in Mandalay a century earlier and resulted in the ‘world’s largest book’ at Kuthodaw Pagoda).
The synod brought together over 2500 teachers from across the world to recite from the Buddhist scriptures. The library was commissioned by U Nu to hold the texts of these recitations, though, thanks to rising costs and political insecurity the library wasn’t completed till around 1961. Less than a year before U Nu was overthrown by the General Ne Win.
Designed by the renowned American architect Benjamin Polk, the library itself is well-regarded for its post-war modernist design which incorporates Western functionality with Burmese religious aesthetics (its sweeping, circular design, mimicking the base of stupas and the prolific use of lotus emblem) as well as a museum and auditorium.
Most travellers don’t make it this far north in the city, and those that do tend to visit the Peace Pagoda which the Pitaka Taik is technically attached to.
Address: Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, Mayangone Township, Yangon, Myanmar