Myanmar / Taunggyi

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Myanmar / Taunggyi / The City

Lake Inle

Photo: Lake Inle near Taunggyi

Taunggyi is the capital of the Shan state of the Burmese Union and is with 150,000 inhabitants the fourth largest town of Myanmar (after Yangon, Mandalay and Maw-La-Myne, formerly Moulmein). Taunggyi is situated 1,400 meters above sea level about 500 kilometers north of Yangon and about 10 kilometers southeast of Mandalay. The town on a steep mountain side in the southern reaches of the Himalaya is mainly inhabited by Shans, a people ethnically not related to the Burmese but rather to the Thais.

Taunggyi has no unique, architectural attractions, but is more of an attraction as a whole concerning its location on a steep mountain side and its atmosphere due to the Shan population. Furthermore, the surrounding mountain landscape with the Inle lake is exceedingly picturesque.

To reach Taunggyi you first have to fly to Heho, about 40 kilometers to the West, because the town itself does not boast an airfield.

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Myanmar / Taunggyi / Attractions Around Taunggyi

Floating market

Photo: Floating market on Lake Inle

Lake Inle

The unmistakably most important attraction in the area surrounding Taunggyi is Lake Inle. It begins about 30 kilometers south of the town and reaches about 100 kilometers from North to South, in some stretches becoming as wide as 2 kilometers. The extent of the lake in the third dimension is a lot less impressive. Although one usually expects mountain lakes to be rather deep, the floor of Lake Inle is on the average only about 4 meters below its surface. The lake is rich with fish, but what makes it unique is the way it is used for gardening. Inside the lake myriads of gardens have been created by building a surrounding wall and filling the inside area with loam from the floor of the lake. For the surrounding walls mostly water hyacinth were used. 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.

Pindaya

Pindaya is a small town about 100 kilometers from Taunggyi. It features only one, but all the more impressive attraction: the Pindaya Caves, or Shweumin pagoda, as they are called due to their religious relevance. This is a system of caves inside a limestone mountain, which according to the latest count from 1990 accommodate altogether 6226 Buddha statues. In the meantime there should be several more, because the faithful constantly bring in new statues, which they donate to the monastery administrating the caves. But it seems that the count stopped at 6226. In March of each year at the caves a temple celebration takes place attracting thousands of pilgrims.