Thiha Lu Lin
Pindaya, the Lovely Danu’s City
If a trip is taken to the south of Shan State (South), firstly Kalaw, Inlay and Taunggyi are thought of visiting and much time is usually given to go there, but Pindaya is near in position en route to these worth-visiting places, however the travellers to the south of Shan State must not miss it. The travellers make a half day trip to Ywangan and Pindaya while visiting Kalaw, but of course Pindaya has many sights to keep the visitors occupied. It is a worth-visiting town spending at least one night stopover.
I previously did not have an idea to have one day stopover in Pindaya because he did not think it has many sights to view. Once I have seen hidden beauties in Pindaya, it dawns upon him that it is a worth-visiting site.
Pindaya, land of Danu
In Shan dialect, Pintaya is pronounced as Pindaya which means wide-ranging plain, some says far-reaching plain full of Bauhinia acuminate (a kind of Swedaw flower) and some differently says Pindaya came from Pintkuya since the spider was defeated in the legend. Pindaya is adjacent to Yaksawk in the north, to Ywangan in the west and Pwayhla in the south. There is a difficult access to water in Kalaw, but Pindaya has an easy access to water. Pindaya is known as the central region of the south of Shan State and it was one of 16 central regions in the time of ancient kings. I had ever read that Pindaya is the vacant land between Shan and Myanmar. In 1741 Pindaya was originally situated and it is a town with 3,000 feet above sea level.
Pindaya’s history is unclear, but the stories of seven female nats, the spider and Konmabaya prince are very famous and talked about a lot by local people in this region. The spider is used as a tourism promotion logo especially making a trip to this region. In Konbaung era, Ngwe Khun Hmu ruled Pindaya and relatives succeeded in.
Danu Self-Administered Zone is home to most Danu people and PaO, Taungyoe, Manaw, Shan, Myanmar, Intha and Palaung are residing there as well.
Pindaya is a little hotter than Kalaw and Aungban.
How to get to Pindaya
Pindaya doesn’t have a direct highway bus line, but it can be reached Yaksawk highway bus. In the past there was 2+1 but now 2+2. Lonvine highway bus can reach directly to Yaksawk. If a flight is taken, there is a drive from Heho airport.
Worth-visiting places around Pindaya
There are not many places of visit inside the town, but small villages outside the town are nice to visit where local people are very friendly and delicate. It is not busy and noisy and its traffic is not heavy. Local people are helpful to each other.
Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda
While in Pindaya, not to be missed is Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda. It is situated on a high hill where the visitors can overlook an impressive view of the whole town. If I say about the cave first before about the pagoda, this Shwe Oo Min cave naturally exists in lime stone. It is estimated to be 200 million years old.
The research showed that images of Buddha were found on 10 January in 1773 which guessed these were from the time of King Singu. The cave entrance was narrow in the past, but area of the cave entrance was enlarged in 1924. The pagoda was built there and from that time onward, number of Buddha images has been increasing and now there is no space left inside the cave because of the construction and it is a sign of sorrow. As soon as the visitors go up the cave, they can pay homage to the 75-feet high pagoda. If they go in according to road sign to the cave, they will have to pay obeisance to different shapes of Buddha images. At last the cave entrance becomes quite narrow. The entrance of the cave to the other end of the north is 490 feet long. This pilgrimage visit is especially good for the nature-lovers. The good sites the pilgrims to Shwe Oo Min Pagoda taking photos are the statutes of seven female nats, the spider and Konmabaya prince at the bottom of the hill.
Many shops and the car park located at the bottom of the hill of Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda look very lovely. The dealings of the shopkeepers are very attractive to the customers and local products and traditional costumes are available there and these are return home gifts.
Pindaya Tabaung Festival (Pindaya Pagoda Festival) is held on the 6th Waxing of Tabaung every year. On such occasion, culture, dance and lifestyles of Danu ethnic can be observed. Those coming to the pagoda festival by bullock-carts spent many nights in the open fields near Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda previously. These scenes are very much liked by the photographers.
Age-old banyan trees
While in Pindaya, don’t miss to take photograph near age-old banyan tree in front of Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda. This kind of banyan tree can be seen in most parts of Pindaya, but this location look very impressive. Parts of a tree that grows out from the main stem look as beautiful as a painting. The author visited Pindaya by bicycle. Some visitors had the photo taken riding horses there. The visitors can hire the horses. Local products such as fruit, vegetables and snacks are available. I strangely noticed that some elderly persons thought to be Chinese travellers were found among the stems of the banyan tree standing and concentrating.
Pon Taloke Lake (Poke Taloke Lake)
Pon Taloke Lake located in the downtown adds the attractiveness to the beauty of the town and beside it there is a banyan tree which is also a good place to take photographs and provide shade as well.
Once I arrived in Pindaya market, I had to spot the day of the market with a teeming crowd. To be honest, I liked the market day of Kalaw more than that of Pindaya. In the market, local people were selling their land cultivated products which are vegetables, flowers and also regional breakfast and snacks. And the market itself was crowded with their locals in their traditional way.
Pindaya Hawnan (Manor of Shan chief)
There is Hawnan in Pindaya. It is learnt that Shan chief of former times are still residing at Hawnan until now. It is located next to the Market. Unfortunately I missed visiting to Hawnan during my visit.
Pinseinpin and Hsekya-in villages
Pinseinpin and Hsekya-in in Pindaya were recognized as the villages of the community-based tourism in early September in 2018. Local people from these villages welcome the visitors and provide them with the services of accommodation and food. They arrange for trekking to the forest, visits to places of interest and observation of traditions of Danu ethnic. The visitors can enjoy Danu’s group dance, the dance of self-defence art with stick and drum in the evening.
Green Tea Industry Local Business
I felt well satisfied with the chance of observing Hsekya-in Natural Green Tea Industry Hsekya-in village in Pindaya. With the guidance of an organization from Germany, modern natural green tea managed to be cultivated and produced. The green tea is hygienically produced and it can reduce 5 percent of carbon dioxide gas.
We don’t know this smell, but the foreigners know it. The presence and absence of this smell show the quality of the coffee. I remembered that I encountered heavy rain while studying the green tea industry and the family of the host served me wet tea leaves without artificial sweetening agent while having a chat. Looking at the rainfall among the mountain ranges from Danu traditional house while sipping plain green tea is very delicious.
Danu traditional Paper and Umbrella Industry
I continued observing Danu traditional paper and umbrella enterprises. I studied different processes of making samples. The traditional paper and umbrella industry of U Kyaw Shwe is located in a locality not far from Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda. I made a video recording on production processes of traditional paper and this video was already uploaded and you can watch it from Video Tap from the menu above. Local products include hand-made umbrella, fan, book, envelope, paper lantern, lantern, bamboo hat and toys. The foreigners buy them as gifts and local visitors as home use.
Konlon Sayadawgyi Corpse Cave Shrine Edifice (Lwan Zedi)
The famous Buddhist monk in Pindaya is Konlon Sayadaw Shintajay Niyasa. When the Sayadaw passed away, the body of the Sayadaw did not go rotten, hair and nails lengthened. The Sayadaw was believed as if he was alive. The corpse of the Sayadawgyi was put into the glass coffin. The pagoda where the corpse of the Sayadawgyi was put into the glass coffin is called Lwan Zedi. The formation of the Lwan Zedi looks strangely beautiful and sublime. There is no smelling inner Zedi. Record images of offering alms, fruits and flowers to the Sayadaw can be paid obeisance. The Sayadawgyi was born in Tamel village, Htelthon village tract in Pindaya on 4 April in 1900. At the age of 13 the Sayadawgyi became a novice and at the age of 20 the Sayadawgyi became a monk. His age was 96 years and he had 76 years of monkhood. He was famous for vegetarian. A 20 minutes’ drive from Pindaya can reach Konlon Sayadawgyi Corpse Cave Shrine Edifice. It is higher than Pindaya because it is 4,352 feet above sea level.
Pwayhla is a village, which is located close to Pindaya, but it is believed as if it was a big city because it is hustle and bustle. I had my lunch in Pwayhla market in the time of lesser buyers and then I took some time for looking around the market. I saw edible root from the herb Allium tuberosum and tubers and bulbs as well as species of orchid.
Pwayhla Hawnan (Manor of Shan chief)
I couldn't make it to pay visit Pindaya manor of Shan Chief in this trip schedule, but I could make visiting Pwayhla Hawnan which is more than 100 years old and it has existed since the Japanese era. There only the daughter of the Shan chief is currently living. I felt well satisfied with the chance of studying Hawnan. Pwayhla Hawnan can be seen as European structure designed with Myanmar handiworks. It is about 80 feet long and 50 feet side. The room the Shan chief lived, couch and electric cords used those days still remain. Bolts of the doors look strange. The holy place is more than 100 years old since the construction of Hawnan and the photos on the walls of living room upstairs are very historic. The first-ever Shan chief to the latest one can be seen at the same place. I prefers exterior design of the structure.
Setkyar Taung (Settaw Taung) Pagoda
The corpse of the presiding Sayadaw who resided at Setkyar Taung (Settaw Taung) Pagoda en route to Ywangan from Pindaya was put into the glass coffin. Settaw Taung Pagoda became the cave shrine edifice. Only bones were left in the corpse. The current presiding Sayadaw did not dispose of the corpse of his senior Sayadaw who passed away on which he always concentrated and practiced Dhamma every day. On the other mountain of Setkyar Taung Pagoda, a new Zedi has appeared and it looks like a strange shape of tunnel. It is supposed that it would be alive with a teeming crowd of pilgrims if completed. The visitors can observe the mountain ranges and plantations and enjoy the beauty of villages near that mountain.
Trekking and hiking in Pindaya’s environs
The visitor can go trekking and go hiking activities in Pindaya’s environs hiring local guide. The visitors can spend half day, one or two or three night stopovers in the villages while exploring environmental knowledge such as lifestyles of ethnic villages and enjoying the beauties of forests and mountains. Local guides give services for Pindaya-Yasakyi, Pindaya-Inlay, Pindaya-Kalaw, Pindaya-Kanhlakone/Shwe Pahtoe and Pindaya-Ywangan. At present, the foreign travellers are going there, but local ones don’t know much about the visiting situation in Pindaya.
The places to put up in Pindaya
The hotels available to be chosen in Pindaya are not many. The prices are very reasonable in general. This time the place the author put up was at Conqueror Resort. The bungalows are all lovely and their items are in good state. The hospitality of the staffs reflects honesty of the local people. The hotel is very near Shweoomin Cave Pagoda and the age-old banyan tree. The visitors can go there either on foot or by bicycle. It is near the market and Pindaya Hawnan as well. Other choices the visitors can make are Inle Inn Hotel, Golden Cave Hotel, and Global Grace Hotel.
Pindaya, I said earlier is not as same as Pindaya I thought of. When I actually arrived in Pindaya, I obviously saw the place of the hidden beauties. I believes that this blog would help those wishing to visit Pindaya, the land of Danu in the south of Shan State during the visit if they read it.
Thank you to Ko Wunna Thein, Ko Zaw and Ma Phyu Sin for warmest hospitality within my Pin Da Ya trip. And thank you to Ko Soe Min Htike for your care during the stay at the hotel.
Thiha Lu Lin (Thiha, the Traveller)
Photo :: Thiha Lu Lin, Aung Min Maw
Camera :: SONY Alpha 7II with 16 - 35mm Lens
Photos are modified in Lightroom by Thiha Lu Lin.
Translated by Htut Htut (Twantay)