Inle lies in southern Shan State in
the upper part of Myanmar. Inle Lake is where the
leg-rowing Inthar people live in floating villages, in
the great Nyaung Shwe plain, it is the second largest
natural expanse of water in Myanmar. The depth of the
lake is shallow about 14 miles long and 7 miles wide.
Visiting Inle Lake can also provide you with experiences
to the places around its region.
Places around Inle region
Taunggyi is the capital city of Shan
State, Myanmar. It is the fourth largest city in Myanmar
with the population of approximately 200,000. Taunggyi
meaning the "Large Mountain" in Myanmar and it is
located at an elevation of about 4600 feet above the sea
level. Since the city is on a mountain top, the weather
is usually cold and gloomy. Although Taunggyi is located
in Shan State, the Shans do not form the major
population of the city. Inthas, Pa-Os and Chinese are
the majority of the main population of Taunggyi. Some
smaller ethnic groups can also be seen in this part of
the country because of the 5-days market. Being the
capital of the Shan State, Taunggyi hosts many
government offices. The city is home to the Taunggyi
Education College and Taunggyi University.
Long before, Taunggyi was a small village of a few huts.
It lay on a wide area of Sintaung Hills of the Shan
Plateau. Pa-Os were the main population of this area who
lived in groups and villages. Then the city started to
develope around 1894 and were under the Sawbwas' or the
Shan Chieftains' administration.
Taunggyi can be visited by Air. Heho Domestic Airport is
situation on the west of the city. It is about 24 miles
to travel from Taunggyi. The nearest Train Station is at
Shwe Nyaung. It is 12 miles to the west of Taunggyi. The
main access to Taunggyi is by road. There are Express
Buses daily scheduled to travel up and down Taunggyi.
There are also private car rentals to travel to Taunggyi.
Due to a mixture of population, the religions in believe
differ. Shan, Pa-O, Indian, Chinese are the main
dwellers of the city worshiping their own religions.
There are Monasteries scattered throughout the city
because of the Buddhism influence. The Chinese community
worships the Guan Yin at the Guan Yin Buddhist
Monastery. There are also churches for Christians, Hindu
temples for the Indians and some mosque for the Islams.
In Taunggyi, when a Chinese marries an Islam, the next
generations are named as Panthay people.
The Taunggyi area is a popular tourist destination. The
city itself has an interesting five-day market which is
filled with colorful ethnic groups. At the market,
farmers from around the area would come to the Taunggyi
on market day and sell fresh products from their farms
for food and home-made, hand-made products for
souvenirs. Although the tradition of the five-day market
has been fading, the locals around Taunggyi still come
once in five days. Nowadays, tourists roam around the
market to see the lifestyle of the various ethnics and
to take pictures with the colorful-dressed natives.
Another attraction in Taunggyi is the hot-springs. The
hot-springs comes out from the natural cliffs and cracks
from the rocks of the mountain ranges. There is a museum
in town which has displays on the Shan culture, as well
as items of historical interest, such as belongings of
the Sawbwas, the LegendaryShan Chieftains. Taunggyi is
also the main point from which one can travel to the
famous Kakku Pagodas, Inlay Lake, Pindaya Caves and
nearby interesting towns.
Nyaung Shwe is a town a few
kilometers north of Inle Lake in the Shan State of
Myanmar. Nyaung Shwe is the tourist hub for visiting
Inle Lake, and is also the location of the dock for
entry to Inle Lake. Nyaung Shwe can be reached by bus,
car, or by plane via the airport in Heho, located a few
hours drive away.
Popular tourist destinations in Nyaung Shwe are Shwe Yan
Pyay Monastery, Shwe Yaungwe Monastery and Yadanar Man
Aung Su Taung Pyay Pagoda. Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery is
located on the Shwe Nyaung - Nyaung Shwe main road and
it is a distinctive building. Shwe Yaungwe Monastery is
famous for its unique large windows and the teak
building. Yadanar Man Aung Su Taung Pyay Pagoda is
another prominent ancient structure in Nyaung Shwe.
Kakku Pagodas are one of the Asia's
largest and most spectacular ancient monuments in Shan
State. The group of small pagodas contains over 2,000
pagodas with origins dating back many centuries. It
exists not only as an outstanding example of tradition
art and architecture but also as a testament to the
religious devotion of one of Myanmar's many ethnic
minorities, the Pa-Oh. For many centuries, the Pa-Oh has
lived in peace, cultivating their land and devoting much
of their energy and limited wealth to creating
monasteries and pagodas.
Kakku is about 33 miles from Taunggyi. It will take
about 3 hours drive by car. Kakku is located in the Shan
State. Kakku is in the territory of Pa-Oh people.
The legend says that the first pagodas were created by
King Alaungsithu, the 12th century King of Bagan. The
decorative sculptures and figures are 17th or 18th
century but some of the structures are clearly much
There are over 2000 pagodas packed closely together in
ranks and covering an area perhaps a square kilometer.
The main pagoda is around 40 meters high, the mass of
the spire surrounding it uniformly. Each pagoda has its
own individual masterpiece. The particular remarkable
about the whole site is its good state of preservation.
Originally each one must have been topped by a gilded
metal hti, the multi tiered umbrella-like feature, which
is typical of Myanmar Pagodas. Many of these are tilted
on fallen. External rendering of mortar and stucco has
crumbled away on others, exposing the brick core while
trees have established themselves in a few, threatening
to split them apart. But so much of the originals still
exist that this site must be free of the destructive
force of earthquakes, which have periodically ravaged
many of the Myanmar's other monuments.
Even more fascinating are the many figures, carved in
stucco and apparently originally brightly painted, which
adorn corner or pay silent homage beside the niches in
the base, many of which still contain antique Buddha
images. Angels, musicians, dancers- all created with
consummate skill. The remoteness of the site and
reluctance of the local people allow visitors have
helped to preserve its sculptures and artistic treasures
to a degree, unknown in other ancient monuments in
Myanmar. Kakku is a priceless piece of mankind heritage,
a truly splendid example of the creative talent of
remarkable people. It will take about 3 hours drive by
Kakku Pagoda festival
Kakku is located in the Southern Shan State. Researchers
say Kakku was built about 400 years ago, but there is no
written records saying about that. Kakku pagoda festival
is usually held during March, the fullmoon day of
Tabaung. Kekku has been the center of the worship for
the Pa-O people. During the festival, the Pa-O people
come to pay homage to the pagoda in their best costumes.
Some from near villages come to the festival with
Heho is a small town located in Shan
State of Myanmar. It is the primary air gateway to
tourist areas such as Inle Lake. Heho is on the main
road between Taunggyi, the capital of the Shan States,
to Meiktila, the closest major town on the plains of
Myanmar. Heho was formerly a small village of Danu
people. The village grew into a town in the 1920s when
the single-line railway line was extended from Aungban
to Shwenyaung, and Heho was determined to be a
convenient intermediate stop and passing place. Later an
airport was built, 2.5 miles northwest of the town. The
airport served as an airbase both for the Allies and the
Japanese during World War II. The airbase was heavily
bombed by the Allies. There are evidences of aircraft
bunker revetments and bomb craters on the southern end
of the airfield.
Kalaw is a little town sitting high
on the western edge of the Shan Plateau. It was a
popular hill station in the British days and it still
has an atmosphere reminiscent of the colonial era. In
the surrounding hills around Kalaw there are several
villages of the Palaung tribe. The Palaung women wear
traditional costumes which they wear mainly at special
occasions like the Tazaungdaing lighting festival during
October-November. This festival is very popular in Shan
state where people let a paper balloon rise up into the
sky which is lit by a candle. There are also
competitions of the air-balloons. This festival is
well-known throughout the country.
At the festival the Palaung villagers get together in
their community centre where they welcome foreign
visitors. Dressed for the occasion the women wear a
traditional costume consisting of a dark colored jacket
and a red striped Longyi. Married women wrap their heads
with colorful scarves and wear a cane belt around their
waist. Many ethnic tribes from the surrounding villages
walk to the station with local products in the baskets
on their back like cheroots or cigars, flowers and
presents for the children.
Pindaya is a small quiet town located
on the bank of the placid Botoloke Lake, Shan State. The
Pindaya Caves are located next to the town of Pindaya.
The Pindaya caves are Buddhist pilgrimage site and
tourist attraction located on a limestone ridge. There
are three caves on the ridge which runs north-south, but
only the southern cave can be entered and explored. It
is not known whether the other two penetrate for any
extended distance into the hillside. The caves contain
over 8,000 Buddha images dating back to the late 1700s.
Some Buddha Images do not have inscriptions about the
There are many legends surrounding the Pindaya cave. One
is that a blocked-off path at the end of the cave leads
to the ancient city of Bagan. There is also the legend
of the seven princesses bathing in a lake and how they
were captured by a giant spider and trapped in the cave
to be rescued by Prince Kumarbhaya of Nyaung Shwe. An
Image of the prince aiming to the spider with his bow
and arrow can be seen at the entrance of the covered
stairway to the caves.