Kalaw stands high on the western edge of the Shan Plateau. It is 70 km west of Taung Gyi, about halfway along the Thazi-Taung Gyi road. It takes hours drive from Yangon across the countrysides. Visitors from Yangon can catch a one hour flight into Heho Airport and travel km by road into there. The flights have daily flight to Heho from Yangon. This was a popular hill station in the British days and it is still a peaceful and quiet place. As it has an altitude of 1320m, Kalaw’s weather is very satisfactory being cool for the entire year. It would be a perfect place for trekking in mountains of Kalaw. Kalaw is the hometown of the Palaung tribe. It is also a lovely trip going down the track of narrow where the Palaung people cultivate cheroot leaves, tea, damsons and mangoes on the hillsides. The village possesses very interesting long houses for eight families. It also provides a chance to observe tribal village life and the way the Palaung people dry cheroot in a specially designed oven.
The population is a mix of Shan, Indian Muslims, Bamars and Nepal is (Gurkhas retired from British military service), many of whom are missionary educated. Places of interest are Thein Taung Pagoda, Aung Chan Tha Pagoda, Su Taung Pyae Pagoda and the King Church.
City of Pindaya
Pindaya is a small marvelous town, which is located about 45km north of Kalaw. The trip to PINDAYA will be unforgettable and beautiful in many ways with panoramic mountain views and you will feel the breeze passing through the grass fields. Pindaya is recognized for its natural limestone Caves. This is another picturesque town in the same region famous for its ancient caves, a tranquil lake with an avenue of some of the biggest banyan trees, whose massive spreading branches provide cool, shady places for picnics. Pindaya is only about 28 miles (45 km) by car from Kalaw which can be reached by the railway which goes on to Shwe Nyaung, the terminus for Naung Shwe and the Inle Lake. Alternatively, Pindaya can be reached by car from Heho airport, the journey taking only about two hours. About 45 minutes drive from Kalaw, the road from Kalaw to Pindaya is a breathtaking beauty of the region. Pindaya is 3,880 feet above the sea level, and is situated at the foot of a western ridge of mountains over 5,000 feet high. The road from Kalaw or Taunggyi to Pindaya goes t hrough the little town of Aung Ban, famous for its sweet tangerine groves. This scenic rode between Aung Ban and Pindaya is one of the loveliest in the Shan State passing through enchanting villages like Pwe Hla where over two thousand Shan, Pa-o and Danu hill tribes’ people live. You can see fields of red-coloured earth where patatoes and cabbages are grown and sent by trucks to all over Myanmar. There are also fields of dry cultivated mountain rice, tangerine orange groves, avocado orchards and other vegetables and fruits all along this fertile area. Pindaya Township covers about 85 square miles, with a population of over 20,000 hill tribe people. The majority of the population is Taung-yoe, but there are also Danu, Taung-thu, Shan, Palaung, Bama and Intha people. The people are very likeable and friendly and are sure to give visitors a warm welcome. Visitors approaching Pindaya by road will se a welcome concrete sign-post with a huge black spider in the centre of its web towering above. This buge spider is connected with the legendary history of Pindaya.
Legend says that the name Pindaya comes from “Pinku” (Spider) and “Ya” (get). Both the picturesque lake “Pone Ta Loke” and the limestone cave “Shwe U Min” play a part in the legend. Thousands of years ago, seven princesses were so absorbed with playing at Pindaya lake. They soon realized that it was too dark to go back. They looked around and decided to stay overnight, in the harmless looking Pindaya cave. But at mid-night, a huge spider sealed the cave’s entrance with its web. The next morning, the princesses discovered that were locked in. A passing prince heard their cries for help and he comes to rescue them. When he finally killed the huge spider, he exclaimed “Pinku Ya-Pyi” means “I’ve got the spider”. From that time on, the place come to be known as “Pinku Ya”. Later on, it corrupted to Pintara, and then to “Pindaya”. It is all about how the name of “Pindaya” gets into being. The name Pindaya according to the legend comes from Pingu (meaning spider in Myanmar) and ya (meaning get). Scholars say that actually Pin in Shan means “a wide plain”. Pindaya is located on a plain, actually a plateau; with abound ant water from the Zawgyi River and also from smaller streams and lakes. This has enabled the local people to cultivate the land extensively.
PINDAYA CAVE (Legendry of Cave)
Inside the caves there are over 8,000 Buddha Images of various sizes which are made from teak, lacquer, marble, alabaster and cement, and a breathtaking “Bouke ta loke” lake which is right in the middle of shady giant Banyan trees. The Pindaya caves can be reached by taking a horse-cart, or motoring there by jeep or just walking along on foot. Except for the young and energetic, the best way is to go leisurely be horse-cart to the foot of the hills, reserving your energy for the 200 steps up the covered stairway leading to the cave entrance and for exploring the huge meandering maze made up of numerous caves. The caves are supposed to be 200,00 million years old and since ancient times they have been places of worship and veneration with 8,094 Buddha images made from various materials like teak wood, marble, alabaster, brick, cement and lacquer, and all enshrined in the nooks and corners of the winding caverns. At the entrance to the main cave thee is a pagoda 50 feet in height. This pagoda is called Shwe U-min Hpaya or the Golden Cave pagoda. The tazaung or prayer hall was built by the famous hermit U Khanti who also built many of the religious edifices on Mandalay Hill. The entire length of the cave is 490 feet. The numerous stalactites and stalagmites in these limestone caves, from fanciful shapes and have given rise to such names as the “Fairy Princess Loom”, “Posts for tying horses and elephants” and so on. Some of the smaller caves used meditation chambers are accessible only if you crawl in on your knees and elbows. Visitors should plan to stay for one or two nights in Pindaya to explore the natural beauties all around; the tranquil lake, the limestone caves, the ancient pagodas and images and the lovely old trees.
On market days, you can find different races living in the region selling their local products at the market. It is also possible to visit to near villages such as Danu, Palaung, Pa-O and Taungyo villages.