Taunggyi is a pleasant hill mountain station which means "huge mountain" in the Burmese language, a reference to a ridge on the east side of the city. Taunggyi is the capital of Shan State and has a population of approximately 200,000, making it the fourth-largest city in Myanmar. Taunggyi sits at an elevation of 1,400 metres above sea level. Although it is located in Shan State, Shans do not make up the majority of the city’s population, with the Intha and Pa-O dominating. Prior to British colonization, Taunggyi was a small village of a few huts. Lying on a wide shoulder of the Sintaung Hills of the Shan Plateau, it was populated by the Pa-O at that time. The signs of the original village of Taunggyi are long gone, but nearby villages can still be discerned quite easily. During British occupation, the town became the chief city and capital of the Southern Shan States. Taunggyi's modern development began in 1894, when the British moved their administrative offices from Maing Thuak (Fort Stedman) on the eastern shores of Inle Lake to the higher elevation of Taunggyi, for health and geographical reasons. Although geographically within the state of Yawnghwe, the town was denoted as a "notified area" by the British, exempt from the administration of the Sawbwa, the hereditary Shan ruler. By 1906 the town had 1000 houses. Because of civil unrest throughout the Shan States during the early 20th centuary, Taunggyi served as the chief garrison for the military police. Taunggyi has an interesting five-day market, where farmers from around the area would come to the Taunggyi on market day and sell fresh vegetables and meat in the open market. One of the tourist attraction Inlay Lake near Taunggyi is the home of the unique Intha culture and famous for its traditional crafts industry and floating markets. Nearby Taunggyi is Kekku, has hundreds of stupas dating to the 16th century. The special events of Taunggyi is Air Balloon Festival on full moon day of Tazaungmon.
Tour Highlights in Taunggyi
- Air-Balloon Festival
- Cultural Museum
- Kakku Pagodas
- The biggest Hten San Cave
The people in Taunggyi celebrate the Tazaungdine festival with Kahtein (offering of monk robes) as well as the releasing up beautiful fire-balloons into the sky at night. Balloons in the shape of elephant, ox, horse, bird, pig, fish, owl, parrot and also picture of some famous people are released. Taunggyi Tazaungdine festival is the biggest festival with many local tourists with not only by Taunggyi Citizens but also by people from southern Shan State.
Cultural Museum is also interesting and worth place to visit in Taunggyi where traditional objects, musical instruments, costumes, household and farm implements, paintings, sculptures, arts and crafts of the 35 different national races residing in Shan State can be seen. There are also display of paintings, lacquered and others of 'Hawnans" (Royal Shan) where the Shan Sawbwas (Shan Chieftains) used to live can also be observed.
In recent years the previously hidden Kekku Pagoda has become one of the most visited places in southern Shan State. It is situated near Mway Taw village in Taunggyi township, about 25 kilometres from Taunggyi. Along the way you have a chance of a close observation of the vegetation, cultivation and to study the daily life of Pa-oh tribal and their culture also. During the festival, the Pa-O people come to pay homage to the pagoda in their best costumes and some from near villages come to the festival with decorated bullocks. Kakku is located in the Southern Shan State near Inle Lake. Researchers say Kakku was built about 400 years ago but there is no written records saying about it. Kakku pagoda festival is held on the full moon day of Tabaung (March). Kekku has been the center of the worship for the Pa-O people.
It is a natural limestone cave at 1800 meter above sea level. Hten San Cave is located 26 miles (42km) from Taunggyi and 10 miles (16km) from Hopone city. At the heart of Hten San Cave lies one of its great wonders, Hten San Cave Located in the central uplands of Shan State, this breathtakingly beautiful, limestone cavern is a testament to natural’s mastery. Flowing streams, deep pools of crystal clear water and towering columns characterize this living cave. Gaze in wonder at the while flow stones and in awe at the beauty of the nature which adorn the cave.
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