The caves of Pindaya and its market | Myanmar

The villages scattered among the mountains of Shan, a region of Myanmar, are small rural towns that live mainly on agriculture and handicrafts. The residents often reside in traditional houses, where most families have come together under the same roof. Among these characteristic centers, one of the most special to visit on a tour of Myanmar is definitely Pindaya.

View of Pindaya and Lake Pone Taloke

View of Pindaya and Lake Pone Taloke

The village is situated at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level, overlooking a beautiful lake full of fish and has an attraction that has become famous all over the world. It is a series of limestone caves formed over 2 million years ago, which by themselves would be a true natural wonder. Their peculiarity, however, is that since ancient times has become an important place of worship for the people of Myanmar, who come here on a pilgrimage for over 2000 years.

Pindaya cave

Pindaya cave

Tradition has it that pilgrims are resting in the caves of the statues of the Buddha, as a spiritual offering. In so many centuries, the statues collected are over 8,000, of any material and size. They fill the crevices on the underground rooms that are dug into the rock, the narrow passages and steep staircases that connect the entire complex rocky. These offerings come from every era and still continue, with new statues that are added continuously to those that preceded them, overflowing the caves with a unique sacral aura.

Pindaya cave

Pindaya cave

Pindaya is also famous for the workshop of mulberry paper. This particular type of paper is produced, starting from the bark of the mulberry tree – a tree typical of the area – which is boiled and allowed to marinate until it turns into a dense mass. This mash is then thinned and allowed to dry in the sun. The paper thus obtained is used especially to make sun umbrellas.

Making umbrellas in Pindaya

Making umbrellas in Pindaya

The process is entirely manual and still runs with the techniques and the craftsmanship of ancient times. The bamboo handles are inlaid with a foot lathe and also the locking mechanism is entirely hand crafted wood. The umbrellas made are so unique pieces of traditional manufacturing, and are sold directly to tourists at ridiculously low prices during the market, a folkloristic event and recurrent held strictly every five days.

Pindaya photos by: Terry Feuerborn, JCH Travel, Christina Koukkos

By +Nikos Kontorigas

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