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Taunggyi

  • Taunggyi
  • Inle Lake
  • Kalaw
  • Pindaya
  • Kakku Pagoda

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The famous Inle Lake is located in Shan State, about 30 km south of Taunggyi, a city surrounded by haze blue mountain is 900 meters above sea-level. Every year the Paungdaw Oo Pagoda festival is held around the lake areas and the visitors can also visit Kalaw, Pindaya cave.

Taunggyi

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Taunggyi, the capital city of Shan State in the eastern part of Myanmar, is known for its scenic beauty and pleasant climate. The weather is cool all the year round and the area is colourful with lovely flowers, pine trees and green orchard. Taunggyi is one of the popular resorts in the pine-clad hills in Myanmar.

Taunggyi, a former British Hill Station is now the business and cultural centre of the Shan State and is populated by around 150,000 inhabitants, which makes this centre the 4th largest city of Myanmar after Yangon, Mandalay and Mawlamyine. Taunggyi is situated about 500 kilometres north of Yangon and about 100 kilometres southeast of Mandalay. The town on a steep mountain side in the southern reaches of the Himalaya is mainly inhabited by Shans ethnic group. Being situated over 1400 metres above sea level, Taunggyi is ideal for holiday-makers during summer time.

Visitors from Yangon can catch a one hour flight to Heho Airport and travel 40 kilometres by road up to there. Myanmar Airways, Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways and Air Bagan fly daily to Heho. Express train to Yangon-Mandalay-Tharsi junction from where one can take a regular train.

aunggyi's attraction as a whole concerning its location on a steep mountain side and its atmosphere. The surrounding mountain landscape with the Inle Lake is exceedingly picturesque. The journey from Taunggyi down to Inle Lake area takes about an hour. Inle Lake, the second largest natural and unpolluted lake in Myanmar is located in the middle of the greatest depression in Nyaungshwe valley between the two parallel mountain ranges running north to south in the southern Shan State. The Lake is famous for its scenic beauty and the unique leg-rowing of Inthas, the native lake dwellers. There are many floating islands in the vast lake of Inle, 22 km long and 10 km wide.

The most significant festival in Taunggyi is the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival. Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Festival is held annually and is accompanied by communal offering of Kahtein yellow robe offering procession, Mathoe Thingan (non-stale robe) weaving ceremony, procession of lighted candles and hot-air balloon competition. The Taunggyi Hot Air Balloon festival is the most popular main attraction in Myanmar. The Hot Air Balloon festival held in November in commemoration of offering lights to the "Sula Mani Pagoda" built in Tavatimsa (realm of the celestial beings) is celebrated annually on a grand scale for 6 days. On the occasion, people also enjoy fun and merriment by holding firework and hot air balloon launching competitions, competing over their beauty, lasting hours in the air and attitude they can gain.

Day balloons are usually in the form of Pagodas and animals such as elephant, dragon or duck while the night balloons are usually in the shape of rugby ball, huge elongated paper balls with small-lighted multicolored paper lanterns hung around their sides. Every balloon is hand-made using bamboo frames and locally produced paper, made from the mulberry plant. Night balloons are larger and more elaborate, equipped with firecrackers and fireworks. The pyrotechnic display starts at a pre-determined height. All the fireworks are traditionally made, using gunpowder, charcoal and a little bit of magnesium. On this great occasion, over 350 balloons are released throughout the festival every year. It is a great opportunity to observe this marvelous festival held once a year in Myanmar.

In Taunggyi, there is ethnological museum where cultural objects, musical instruments, traditional dresses, household and farm implements, paintings, sculptures, arts and crafts of the different national races residing in Shan State are on display. Moreover, Taunggyi is a nice place to relax, enjoy strawberries and the sight of colourfully dressed hill tribes people.

Taunggyi is close to many places of interest that will tempt the travellers, such as Taunggyi Museum, Inle Lake,  floating market, the scenic hill station of Kalaw and the magnificent Pindaya Cave which is famous for thousands of ancient Buddha images.

Inle Lake

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One of the most picturesque spots in Southeast Asia and the main tourist attraction in the area surrounding Taunggyi is Inle Lake, which boasts the second largest natural and unpolluted lake in Myanmar. The lake is located in the middle of the greatest depression in Nyaungshwe valley between the two parallel mountain ranges running north to south in the southern Shan State.

Inle Lake is located about 30 kilometres to the south of Taunggyi. This vast, beautiful and picturesque Lake, sheltered among the hazy blue mountains of 1524 metres, stretches 22 km long and 10 km wide. The lake itself is about 900 metres above sea level and studded with floating islands. This lovely lake is home to the Inthas, the native lake dwellers, who constructed villages on stilts over the surface of the lake and floating island farm created from mud and reed dredged from the lakebed. The resulting ground is extremely fertile and is mainly used for the cultivation of tomatoes and beans. In some parts of the lake, these vegetable gardens are so extensive that the lake appears like a system of channels between plots of land. The lake has a population of some 150,000 and most of them live on floating islands of vegetation.

This natural and unpolluted Inle Lake is famous for its scenic beauty and the unique leg rowing of the Inthas who have developed an original, eccentric method of rowing their small boats with one leg standing at the stern of boat. A boat trip on the lake is very enjoyable with flying seagulls.

The Intha men are known for their farming and fishing skills while women are known for their superb silk weaving skills. Visitors can observe cottage industries of weaving, netting and cheroot making etc. Inle silk is quite popular in Myanmar and hand-looms silk weaving can be studied at Inpaw Khon village. Inle can easily be reached via Heho, the nearest airport 35 km from the Lake. There are regular flights from both Yangon and Mandalay to Heho. By road, it is 660 km from Yangon and 330 km from Mandalay.

The main attraction of the Inle Lake is the famous Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda situated in the lake. In every October, both local and foreign pilgrims and visitors would flock to the Pagoda for its annual pagoda festival held in full of pageantry and splendour. Phaung Daw Oo images are widely believed to have mystic miraculous power. Thus, the Buddha statues have been gilded throughout the length of time by many devotees from all over the country and they even lost the original shape and seem solid masses of pure gold.

On the festival days, four Buddha images with a substitute fifth one out of five from Phaung Daw Oo pagoda are carried on a decorated royal barge (called Karaweik) and conveyed around 14 villages on the lake. The fifth smallest one with the substitute four Buddhas remain at Namhu monastery for people to pay homage. The barge is drawn by boats of leg-rowers and hundreds of boats follow the procession. The large crowds of people gather on the lake-shores to celebrate the occasion.

The most interesting event of the festival, especially for foreigners is their boat race due to their unique leg rowing. Boat races are held during the festival and on the last day. Usually a race is taken place with three long boats, containing one hundred people each, standing upright and rowing with their legs in the traditional Inle style. It is the one and only place in the world where one can see such marvelous act.

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Kalaw

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Kalaw, a beautiful hill station set in the midst of rolling hills and pine forests, is perched on the western rim of the massive Shan Plateau. This charming little town is really one of the favourite places in Myanmar. Cool and spring like weather, pine forest, tea plantations and colourfully-clad hill tribes make Kalaw a natural magnet for tourists.

Kalaw is situated 71 kilometres west of Taunggyi and about 660 kilometres from Yangon. There are regular domestic flights from Yangon to Heho from where one can proceed to Kalaw by car. As it is situated at an altitude of 1320 metres, it is pleasantly cool and a good place for hiking while enjoying the scenery of rugged mountains, bamboo groves and fragrant pine trees. Visitors can make interesting excursions around Kalaw. The main attractions of Kalaw are the town itself and its ethnic mix of people. Kalaw still boasts for its colonial-era cottages and villa.

The town is setting within trekking distance of many ethnic minority villages. Trekking to Palaung tribe villages is wonderful. Most of the ancient Myanmar hill tribes such as Palaung, Pa-O and Shan ethnic with their interesting traditional styles living up here and there. At some distance from the town, there are ethnic Palaung villages where the ethnic people still living in long house for eight families. Observe tribal village life and how the Palaung people drying cheroot in a specially designed oven.

Visitors can see hill tribe people in their colourful costumes adding to the quiet attraction of Kalaw. They always come down to the Kalaw market held every five days and thus it is the chance to learn their daily life on that days. We are sure that Shan Mountains around Kalaw with unique flora and fauna as well as the culture of Padaung, Danu and Pa-O villages will surely make your visit unforgettable.

Pindaya

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Pindaya, situated at the foot of Mene-Taung Range about 45 kilometres north of Kalaw, is a picturesque place perched on the bank of the placid Botoloke Lake. This small town is famous for its beautiful lake and extensive lime stone caves called Pindaya Cave in which over 8000 of old Buddha Images are seated. The images are of various sizes, some carved in the face of rock and some deposited in niches in the walls for many centuries. Some of them are tiny while others are huge and are made of teak, lacquer, marble, bronze, alabaster and cement being coated with gold leaf. Some images are said to be more than 300 years old.

The caves are set deep in the hillsides and there stands a 15 metre high Shwe U Min Pagoda at the entrance. Some of the smaller caves within the complex serve as meditation chambers. The winding galleries and nooks and corners of the cave are ideal places of insight meditation since the olden days. The hike up Shwe U Min is relatively easy - there is also an elevator help visitors to climb this cave. Among the unusual features in the cave is a set of stalagmites that can be struck with large wooden mallets to produce gong tone. Shwe U Min Pagoda celebrates its festival on and around the full moon day of Tabaung (during February or March). During the festival time, thousands of devotees throng to the cave to pay homage. Pagoda's mall is set up at the foot of the hill and sells local products, food and seasonal fruits.

The way from Kalaw to Pindaya (about 38 kilometres) give magnificent scenic beauty because of the drive over the rolling hills of the Shan plateau through colourful mustard and wheat field. This scenic road between Kalaw and Pindaya passing through enchanting hill tribes villages where Shan, Pa-O, and Danu people live is one of the loveliest in the Shan State.

During the tour to southern Shan State, one should not miss to visit Pindaya. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic mountain views and witness the enchanting hill tribes of the region. On market days, visitors can find different national races residing in the region gathered at the market, buying and selling the products of the area.

Kakku Pagoda

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One of the Asia's largest and most spectacular ancient monuments lies deep in the heart of Shan State. Kakku lies 26 miles south of Taunggyi, sharing borer with Naung Mon Township in the east. In the west, there lies a blue and hazy mountain ranges stretching from north to south and reaching 1300 metres above the sea level.

Kakku Pagoda is one of the oldest and most fascinating archeological sites in Myanmar. The hidden treasures of the country for years is now unveiled to the publicity and awaiting curious new comers. Kakku Pagoda, thousands of pagodas with various shapes, sizes and descriptions dotted within Kakku Pagoda compound is main attraction. More than 2000 stupas are packed in ranks covering an area of approximately a square kilometre and said to have been built during 16th century. It exists not only as an outstanding example of traditional art and architecture but also as a testament to the religious devotion of one Myanmar's many ethnic, the Pa-O.

Kakku area is covered and scattered by Pa-O villages especially stretching along on both sides of the main road from north to south. There are beautiful landscapes in which pagodas are set and small winding road leading to pagoda complex allowing a close observation of the vegetation and cultivation. Visitors will also have a chance to study the daily life of Pa-O tribal people and their culture.

Kakku is easily reached by road from Taunggyi passing through the humble villages of Pa-O people and incredible upland scenery. Pa-O people earn their living by farming and live peacefully in their villages still maintaining their traditional culture and devoutness to Buddhism. The yearly religious festival normally takes about one week. The climax of this festival usually falls on full moon of the Tabaung (Mid-March) every year. It is not just a religious festival but also a social occasion for all to have fun.

The most interesting time to visit this place is to get there before dawn of the full moon day of Tabaung where the Pa-O people in all their finery come gaily bearing decorated trays of morning food offerings. Kakku Pagoda festival draws thousands of visitors from all parts of the Shan State.

Contact Address

408A, Yuzana Condo Tower, 69, Shwegondine Rd, Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar. 11201

Tel: (+95-1) 549265, 552647
Fax: (+95-1) 552712

Email: khin.kmj@gmail.com, kyawthugar@gmail.com, karaweik@myanmar.com.mm

Internet: www.karaweiktours.com, www.karaweiktours.asia

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