North of Burma’s central plains is the exotic and fascinating Shan State, a beautiful landscape in South East Asia located on the eastern side of Myanmar. Once 40 Shan monarchs ruled there but they lived in hostile times as Burmese kings and Chinese warlords fought against them to gain control of their fertile land.
We begin our journey at Inle Lake. The magical beauty of this body of water has attracted and fascinated people since time immemorial and this unique lake is home to the Intha people.
The next leg of the journey leads to a far more tranquil section of the lake that features floating gardens that are around a hundred metres long and two metres wide and consist of a densely interwoven carpet of water hyancinths.
Mandalay, ‘The City of Art’, is located in the centre of Shan State. It was founded in 1857 and up until the British conquered it in 1885, it was the capital of the kingdom of Burma. The Mahamuni Pagoda is the centre of worship and is also where the Mahamuni Buddha is kept, the country’s most highly worshipped Buddha statue.
Around 12 kilometres beyond Hsipaw is the legendary Bagyo Pagoda. Surrounded by a magnificent wall, it is thought that the sanctuary is more than 700 years old. An important festival takes place each year around Tabaung, the time of the full moon in February and March, and is the highlight of the town’s cultural calendar.
The Shan people in the north of Myanmar have most certainly retained their cultural heritage and Shan State is an exotic combination of both nature and culture and a land of beauty and joie de vivre!