The Pindaya Caves Illustrate the History of Burmese Art

 

Step into Yester-year at the Pindaya Caves

 

The Pindaya caves are located in the Shan state of Myanmar, just outside the town of Pindaya and near Inle Lake. The drive to the caves from the local Heho airport takes about an hour and a half.

Once you arrive at the entrance to the site, you’ll take a glass-walled elevator up to the level of the southern cave. The elevator provides you with a panoramic view over the town of Pindaya and nearby Inle Lake.

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Near the entrance to the cave you’ll come across the Shwe U Min Pagoda. Near the Pagoda is a large bronze bell which has a casting date of 1842 stamped into it.

Pindaya Caves Myanmar
The entrance to Pindaya Caves.

There are actually three caves in the limestone ridge above the town of Pindaya, however only the most southern cave is open to the public. The cave is considered a shrine, so you’ll have to remove your shoes to enter it. Although, in most of the cave the floors are tiled or lined.

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Over 8,000 Pieces of Artwork

Once you’ve entered the cave be prepared to be stunned by what you see. Probably the most remarkable aspect of the cave is not the cave itself, but the sheer volume and different styles of Buddhist artwork it contains.

Estimates of the total amount of this artwork vary between 8,000 and 9,000 pieces and it is still growing. Pieces are still being added to the collection to this day.

Pindaya Caves Myanmar
Artwork on display inside the southern cave.

The design and styles of the artwork have evolved over the centuries and the cave is a treasure trove for art historians interested in Burmese art. The oldest statue is said to date from the year 1773.

Pindaya Caves Myanmar
Estimates on the number of statues range from 8,000 to 9,000.

The Cave as an Art Gallery

The cave itself extends for about 150 meters into the limestone ridge and contains many galleries and rooms. Some of these rooms are little more than crawlspaces that you have to squeeze yourself into. These small rooms are often utilized by Buddhist worshippers as a place to meditate.

Pindaya Caves Myanmar
The floors of the cave have been lined and you must remove your shoes.

The caves can be seen in about an hour and are a short drive from the town of Pindaya. There is also a covered walkway that extends all the way from the town if you’re in the mood for a walk.

Pindaya Caves Myanmar
The view from Shwe U Min Pagoda.

The site is open only in the daylight hours and there is an entrance fee of US $3.

 
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