Inle Lake is about 20 km long and 8 km wide and is surrounded by a high plateau with numerous villages inhabited mainly by fishermen and farmers. The lake itself is shallow - only 2 to 3 metres deep - and covered by seaweed, a perfect environment for the wide variety of floating flower and vegetable gardens to grow in. The lake is also home to silk and lotus weaving craft shops on stilts and wide range of bird species.
PHAUNG DAW OO PAGODA - The Phaung Daw U Pagoda Festival is held annually for a total of 18 days. It is one of the most famous festivals in Myanmar. Both locals and foreign visitors come to visit this traditional festival in Inlay Lake, Shan State. Annually, during the Myanmar Month of Thadingyut, usually between September and October, the 18-days festival is held. The festival is held with the dates according to the Lunar Calendar of Myanmar. It begins on the first Waxing Moon day of Thadingyut and ends a couple of days after the Full Moon.
A large boat with a Golden Hintha (Hamsa) Bird creation is built. The Buddha Images tour around the Inlay Lake from village to village taking the whole 18 days on the way. During the festival, only four of the Buddha Images are moved onto the royal barge. One image always remains at the temple. The decorated royal barge is towed by several boats moving by leg-rowers of Inlay. The barge is towed from village to village along the shores of the lake in clockwise fashion, and the four images reside at the main monastery in each village for the night. The high point of the festival is on the day when the images arrive at the main town of Nyaung Shwe, where most pilgrims from the surrounding region come to pay their respects and veneration by boats. There are hundreds of floating boats from near and far.
INDEIN VILLAGE - The Indein Village that connects to the main Inle Lake by narrow canals is a major highlight in the region. A trip to the village can be a fantastic, authentic experience as you will see the weather beaten stupas and watch people go about their daily life. Getting to the Indein Village across the Inle Lake is a part of entertainment of the trip itself. You will see the unique leg-rowing fishermen stand up on their boats with their hands casting net for fishing, and watch the farmers in their canoes tending to their floating gardens.
The Indein Village offers nice views and experiences from two different worlds. The old part of Indein Village is home to a mass of stupas, many of which have been neglected and in some way, have thankfully escaped restoration. Walking there feels like back in time. In the new Indein, there is a nice outdoor market which is set up every 5 days. You can buy spices, tea, peanuts, vegetables, clothing, etc and encounter friendly, smiling local people. Do bring some cashes.
NGA PHE CHAUNG MONASTERY - Nga Phe Chaung Monastery is a beautiful wooden monastery built on stilts around 200 years ago over the Inle Lake. It is considered the oldest and largest monastery in Inle Lake region. It is set among floating gardens and well worth a visit, especially if you're on the way to or back from the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. This attractive wooden monastery houses an impressive collection of Buddha images respectively in Shan, Tibetan, Bagan and Inwa style. The tall, mosaic-decorated pedestals and cases built for the images showcasing Shan and Northern Thai Buddhist art have a history of more than 100 years.
Locally known as Jumping Cat Monastery, Nga Phe Chaung Monastery is best known for the cats that were trained to jump through hoops. After the death of the head monk, the trained cats have all since died or retired, and the new head monk doesn't think it proper for monks to train cats to perform tricks for tourists. However, it is still possible to see some jumping cats.
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