Pindaya Caves is one of the most wonderful places in Myanmar located near the town of Pindaya in Shan State. It is famous for its extensive limestone caves that has more than 8,000 Buddha images, made of wood, marble, lacquer, brick, stone and bronze and Shwe U Min Paya and pleasant Boutaloke Lake which is set amongst huge old trees. The handicraft production of Shan Bamboo hat and umbrella and Shan Paper made out of Mulberry tree are also the attraction of Pindaya. Visitors can absorb the Pa – O and Danu villages of the countryside. Pindaya is situated at about 1,200 metres above sea level and is surrounded by hill tribe villages. Devoted Buddhist pilgrims have placed the images over the centuries and the collection is unique and well worth seeing. A major handicraft industry in Pindaya is umbrella manufacturing. Handmade from paper, the umbrellas can be seen in several workshops in town.
The ancient caves are about one mile southwest of the town and can be reached by taking a horse-cart or motoring there by jeep or just walking along on foot. Except for the young and energetic, the best way is to go leisurely be horse-cart to the foot of the hills reserving your energy for the 200 steps up the covered stairway leading to the cave entrance and for exploring the huge meandering maze made up of numerous caves. The caves are supposed to be 20,000 million years old and since ancient times they have been places of worship and veneration with 8,094 Buddha images made from various materials like teak wood, marble, alabaster, brick, cement and lacquer and all enshrined in the nooks and corners of the winding caverns. At the entrance to the main cave there is a pagoda 50 feet in height. This pagoda is called Shwe U-min Hpaya or the Golden Cave pagoda.
The tazaung or prayer hall was built by the famous hermit U Khanti who also built many of the religious edifices on Mandalay Hill. The entire length of the cave is 490 feet. Some of the smaller caves used meditation charmers are accessible only if you crawl in on your knees and elbows. Visitors should plan to stay for one or two nights in Pindaya to explore the natural beauties all around; the tranquil lake, the limestone caves, the ancient pagodas and images and the lovely old trees.
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