Pindaya is a beautiful destination in the patchwork farmland of Shan State, home to the Danu, Palaung and Pa-O people. Presiding over the scenery, halfway up a limestone cliff, is a magnificent cave grotto chock-a-block with Buddha statues.
Welcome to Pindaya, home to a spectacular cave temple filled to the metaphorical rafters with Buddhas. Small, large, seated, reclining, old, new, shiny and tarnished. You have to squeeze through chambers and tunnels, stairs and passages to see them all.
Legend has it, a giant spider captured seven princesses and held them in the Pindaya caves, until Prince Kummabhaya of Yawnghwe killed the beast with a bow and arrow. To keep future human-eating spiders at bay, Buddha statues were placed in the caves from the mid-1700s, with more and more added right up to the present day. This wide timeframe means the caves exhibit an extraordinary range of Buddhist iconography, unlike anywhere else in Myanmar.
You’ll find the caves halfway up a limestone cliff. The view from up there? An impressive patchwork of farmland with red soil, green crops, flowers, and farmers guiding water buffalo. The region is known for its majestic banyan trees which grow roots from their branches.
Danu, Palaung and Pa-O people live in this corner of Shan State which stretches 100 km (62 mi) from Pindaya to Inle Lake. Imagine covering this distance on a multi-day hike through tea plantations and tobacco fields, waving to farmers taking carts of watermelon to market, staying in monasteries en-route. When you need refreshments, stop in a village for a steaming bowl of rice noodles, chicken and chilli cooked up by women in turbans and longyi wrap skirts.