Excursions around Lake Inle visiting Shwe Indein Pagoda

12 October 2014 

Inle Lake in Myanmar is the ideal base for various day trips to the many attractions in the surrounding area and to the lake itself. The today tour includes a visit to the village of Indein and its Shwe Indein Pagoda, before a short cruise in the lake watching for fishermen at work. On the way to the Heho airport, from where I will continue my trip in Myanmar to the next destination, I visit the monastery of Shwe Yan Pyay, characterized by an original architecture and a sanctuary that is home to hundreds of small Buddha statues.

A little more than half an hour by boat from the heart of the Inle lake, along a river that flows into the lake itself, I approach the remote village of Indein, interesting to learn more about simple local life and for the nearby temple of Shwe Indein.
Indein Indein - Burma
Indein - Myanmar River
Pictures of Indein in Myanmar. The village of Indein is located along the banks of a river that feeds Inle lake.
Having bath in the river Washing clothes in the river

The villagers of Indein are busy in their daily activities, like clothes washing, having a bath and fishing with large blue nets.
Pagoda of Shwe Indein
Just out of the town, the pagoda of Shwe Indein, consists in a complex of hundreds of ancient stupas (a stupa is a sacred stutture containing relics related to Buddhism) whose construction started from the 8th century AD (however, currently, the oldest contructions seems not going back to before the 14th century).
Stupas Shwe Indein
Shwe Indein pagoda

It is assumed that the temple of Shwe Indein has over 1600 stupas, though an exact estimation can not be made ​​because many of them are totally destroyed, while others were swallowed by vegetation. The place is full of charm and mystery, and the whole is surrounded by a picturesque landscape.
Shwe Indein temple
Temple of Shwe Indein

Photos of stupas in Shwe Indein paya: some have been renovated, while others are so damaged, that only part of the main "body" remains.
Stone carvings

Shwe Indein pictures. The facades of the stupas are beautifully decorated with reliefs and stone carvings.
Restored stupas
Some stupas have already been restored, while others are in the process of recovery. Although it is important to preserve the historical heritage, I found the restoration work too invasive, with stupas that have been completely modified and painted in gold (perhaps they should do the restoration using the original materials, without interfering in style and appearance).
Myanmar Stupa
Ruins of a temple Entrance to temple
Original fresco

This ruined temple, partially covered by vegetation, has a beautiful statue of Buddha accessible through a narrow tunnel where there are fragments of original frescoes.
Ancient temple wrapped by vegetation
Ruins of the temples

As a kind of Angkor in Cambodia, many buildings have been covered by vegetation , which is slowly wrapping everything.

Trees growing on the top of the stupa, with roots that wrap around the structures. On the wall are even some large plants of Agave.
Elephant statue
Statue of an elephant in front of the entrance of a stupa.
Ruined Buddha statue
Each stupa, as such, contains within it some relic that represents the Buddhist religion, in most cases Buddha statues. Other stupas have beautifully frescoed walls.
Buddha statue
Fishermen Fisherman
Once back on the lake, I spent some time watching fishermen of Inle at work . Fishing is one of the most important activities of the people of Inle Lake. The technique of fishing by network requires a huge effort from an entire team, where each fisherman helps to lay and collect the network from their canoe.
Inle lake fisherman Lake Inle fishermen
Fishermen do acrobats from the tip of their canoe, to fix and collect the nets.
Inle lake fishing Inle lake
If the teamwork required to manage the networks appears to be too complex, this sort of cone-shaped net may be handled by a single fisherman.
Motorized canoe
How to move around Inle lake? The motorized canoe is certainly the most used "vehicle".
Shwe Yan Pyay monastery Buddist monastery
Leaving behind Inle lake, bound for Heho airport, I visit Shwe Yan Pyay monastery, attraction usually not included into package tours, but very nice and interesting. On the left photo, the main structure made ​​entirely of teak wood, having oval windows which are rather unusual in Myanmar. In the right picture, the other buildings of the monastery complex.
Shwe Yan Pyay
Shwe Yan Pyay monastery

The Nyaung Shwe monastery dates back to the early 19th century and has finely carved wooden structures laminated in gold (using gold leaf) in addition to beautiful statues and elaborate ornaments.

Cats in Buddhist monasteries of Myanmar are always welcome.
Next to the monastery, there is a shrine known for housing hundreds of Buddha statues into many niches along the walls of the corridors.
Buddha statues Niche with Buddha statue
Small Buddha statue

The Buddha statues were donated by pilgrims from all corners of Burma, as well as from other countries the world. Some niche displays a label indicating the name of the donor.

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