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Inle Lake

 

This vast and picturesque lake is situated in the hilly Shan State in the eastern part of Myanmar. With an elevation of 900 meters above sea-level, it is one of the main tourist attractions in Myanmar. The lake, 22 km long and 10 km wide, has a population of some 150,000, many of whom live in the water and floating islands of vegetation where the Intha (native to the Lake Inle) people grow a variety of vegetables and flowers, both for their own consumption and to export around the country. This method of agriculture is another unique aspect of life on the lake, as the villagers harness nature to develop these gardens over many generations. Inlay Lake, natural and unpolluted, is famous for its scenic beauty and the unique leg-rowing of the Inthas, the native lake-dwellers. Moreover, floating villages, colorful markets, traditional workshops and Inlay style monasteries are places worthy of visit. The festival of Phaung-daw-Oo Pagoda in Inlay Lake held during October is full of pageantry and colorful splendor.

HOW TO GET THERE

The most convenient way is to fly from Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay to Heho, which is the nearest airport to the lake. Then, take a 35 km drive from Heho to Nyaung Shwe, which is the gateway quiet town to Inle Lake. There are daily flights to Heho which take about an hour. Plenty of night coach are also running with nice and comfortable bus from Yangon, and Mandalay, traveling by car along the uphill and winding road over the Shan Plateau is interesting and well-worth taking although it takes long hours. There is also a regular train service via Thazi Junction to Heho and Shwenyaung, the nearest station to the lake.

ATTRACTIONS
Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary

Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is a wetland sanctuary and covers an area of 642.32 square miles. This sanctuary is to conserve and protect natural vegetation, wetland birds and fresh water fish in Inle Lake. Inle Lake is not only a cultural-historical-religious site but also one of a ASEAN Heritage Park in Myanmar. Nature explorers should not miss out on a chance to experience the world famous wetland ecosystem of Inle lake Wildlife Sanctuary by cycling and trekking on the Shan Plateau. The sanctuary covers Inle Lake and drafting by boats or canoeing into the floating agriculture of the local Inthar people and their villages will complete an incomparably relaxing experience.

Phaung-daw-Oo Pagoda

One of the famous principal shrines in Myanmar, this pagoda houses five small Buddha images, which are much revered by the lake-dwellers. Once a year, in late September – early October, there is a pagoda festival during which, four of the five Buddha images tour around the lake in a colorful.

Nga Hpe Kyaung monastery, Inthar Heritage House and cats!

Nga Hpe Kyaung monastery, located on the lake, is constructed from wood and features a beautiful meditation hall. It was famous for its jumping cats; the local monks trained them to jump through hoops. This practice has now stopped, however – due to the cats becoming arthritic and/or because they thought it was an unfair practice. The monks were always honest enough to say it was only done for the tourists. But cat lovers are well catered for on Inle Lake; the Inthar Heritage House, a beautiful structure located in the middle of the lake and built from reclaimed wood, is a restaurant, art gallery and cat sanctuary. The Burmese Cat preservation project has carried out a breeding program to reintroduce these elegant felines to Myanmar.

Indein Ruin Pagoda Forest

Indein is one of the small villages of Inlay Lake located on the western bank of the lake. The village and pagodas can be reached by boat on an atmospheric narrow canal to the west of Ywama, although this is usually not accessible during the dry season, as the water is too shallow. A Buddha Image has been enshrined at a whitewashed stupa, which is on the summit of a hill. Below the stupa around the hill are cluster of hundreds of ancient stupas. The pagodas were commissioned during the reign of King Narapatisithu.[2] However, tradition holds that they were built by King Ashoka (known in Burmese as Dhammasok) , and renewed by King Anawrahta.

Floating Gardens

The native people grow vegetables on floating islands which are a collection of floating weed and water hyacinth. These floating islands can be cut, dragged by boats and even be sold like a piece land. Floating gardens can be found mostly in Kay Lar, Inchan and Zayatgyi Villages.

Villages on the lake

There are several villages on the Inlay Lake; its streets are a web of canals. Plenty of beautiful teak houses built on large wooden piles driven into the lake bed. Each village is famous for its own products, such as boat making village, weaving village, silver smith village, fishermen village, agriculture village etc.

Ywa Ma Village (or) Gold & Silver Smith Workshop

Producing gold and silver ware is a long tradition of Myanmar. Ywama Village is well known for its gold and silver smith workshops.

Nam Pan Village

Nam Pan Village is located just before the Silk Weaving village. Here at Nam pan many of the local villagers work in the traditional workshops making the cheroots (Burmese Cigar), the other workshops in the village are for the boat carpenters. The village is very interesting in itself, as all the houses are build on stilts resting just above the water of the lake. Many people call it the Venice of the East.

Black Smith Workshop

In Se Khong Village is famous for black smith workshop and produces knives and farming tools in traditional ways that are sold at 5 days rotating markets around the Inle Lake.

Lotus Weaving Workshop

Fantastic quality lotus and silk cloth with fabulous hand-weaved patterns & designs are created in the Inn Paw Khon Village. Traditional techniques, such as tied and dyed, are detailed and time consuming procedures that have been handed down from generation to generation.

Sakar Village

A hidden village dramatized by the greenly scenery mountains amid the Shan Plateau near the Lake Inle is Sagar. This village is a ruined royal capital with ancient monasteries and pagodas at the southern end of Inlay Lake. It was built in 1479 and the population is about 1300.

A boat trip to the village of Sakar is beyond your imagination. Gazing at the blue hazy mountains, feeding groups of water birds that are chattering here and there on the Lake, scattering floating vegetations and happy-and-content Inthas (native to the Lake Inle) in their leg-rowing small boats are some unique spices appetizing those who are hungry for nature and cleanly environs.


Red Mountain Estate vineyard

For an entirely different type of experience, head up to the Red Mountain Estate vineyard in the hills to the east of Inle Lake for some wine tasting. One of only two vineyards in Myanmar, this definitely breaks the mould of your day-to-day Myanmar experience, making it suddenly feel as if you have been transplanted to the south of France. You can try the tasting menu (featuring wines from four different types of grape) whilst taking in the stunning sunset views over the lake. The vineyard can be reached by taxi or bicycle from Nyaung Shwe.

Nyaung Shwe Sawbwa Museum

The “Haw” mansion in which Nyaung Shwe Sawbwa (the governor of Nyaung Shwe Township, including Inle Lake Region) had lived. Now it has been opened as a museum. It was built by Sawbwagyi Sir Sao-Maung in 1913. The chambers are decorated with marvelous ancient architecture and sculptures can be observed there.

ENVIRONS OF INLE LAKE
Kalaw

Kalaw, another hill station as well as peaceful summer resort nestled in pine-clad mountains, is 1,400 meters above sea-level. It is located 70 km west of Taunggyi. Many of the Tudor-style houses and English gardens of colonial days remain. In the neighborhood lie villages of Palaung and other hill tribes who come to Kalaw market held every five days in their colorful costumes, adding to the quiet attraction of Kalaw. It is also pleasantly cool and a good place for hiking amid gnarled pines, bamboo groves and rugged mountain scenes.

Trekking In Pindaya / Kalaw and Surrounding Hills

On the mountain ranges around Kalaw and Pindaya are villages where trekking can be a one to five day experience. Study the traditional customs of the Shan, Danu, Pa-O, Pa-laung people villages, a tourist attraction which has kept its ancient look. The sight of tea plantations, other seasonal crops and quiet parkways are there. Trekking along the path from Kalaw to Inle Lake is even more interesting and popular. Enjoy the unspoiled natural scenery of Inle Lake which leads to the Indein Pagoda Forest.




Pindaya

Situated at the foot of Mene-taung Range and about 45 km north of Kalaw is a picturesque place called Pindaya. This small town famous for its extensive 200 million years old limestone caves in which thousands of centuries-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. The caves are set deep in the hillsides and there stands at the entrance, a 15-meter high Shwe U Min pagoda. There are some 6,000 Buddha images and interesting stalagmites. The road from Kalaw to Pindaya (38 km) passes through countryside of magnificent scenic beauty.

Kakku

Kakku a hidden treasure an unusual, magnificent collection of Buddhist Stupas unheard of by historians and unlisted in guide books lay in the deepest Pa-oh territory, 26 miles south of Taunggyi the capital of Shan State. There are more than 2000 stupas in a site closely packed together in ranks covering an area of approximately a square kilometer apparently unknown to outside world. Kakku area is covered and scattered by Pa-oh villages especially stretching along on both sides of the main road from north to south and live on agriculture, and they especially grow cheroot leaf, garlic, wheat and peas.

Htamsan Cave

Htamsan Cave is located about 26 miles in the east of Taunggyi along a snaky road through colorful surroundings. This natural cave was found by a young monk and it is over 500 meters long and 10 meter high with full of stalactites and stalagmites and Buddha images. A great place for photographers!

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