Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Giant Reclining Buddha and Kyauk Kalat Pagoda.

 Kyauk Kalat Pagoda.

Today was our roadtrip back to Yangon and all along the way, Spring took us to see sights. It was a full day and we were exhausted by the time we arrived back into Yangon!

A row of monk statues heralded our arrival into our first destination.  Sorry for the blurry video.



Located in the small town of Mudon in Mon State, Win Sein Taw Ya is home to the one of the largest reclining Buddha images in the world.  The Giant Buddha at Mudon stands 30 meters (98 feet) high and 180 meters (591 feet) in length.  We stepped out of the van for a better look at this monstrous Buddha.
 

There was quite a bit of scaffolding set up around the Buddha.  Either construction on the Buddha is on going or it's being repaired. 

Polishing a finger?

We didn't enter inside the reclining Buddha but apparently it  is filled with rooms that showcase dioramas of the teachings of Buddha and there's also a small shrine.


It wasn't until I looked at the face of the Buddha image through my zoom lens that I noticed it had eyelashes!  First time I've ever seen eyelashes on a Buddha.  The Burmese definitely prefer for their Buddha images to have a more effeminate look to them.  This image has eye and lip make up worthy of a Vogue model!


In 2012, construction started on a second reclining Buddha opposite the original.  I guess one large reclining Buddha was simply not enough?


Our next destination was in Kayin State - a very unusual rock pagoda called Kyauk Kalat.  We didn't see the pagoda when we parked the car and got out.  There were a few stalls selling food.


Then, we approached this pavilion and at first I thought this was the pagoda and my initial reaction was *meh*.  No big deal.  But Spring didn't walk towards the pavilion.  Instead, he headed for a path that led across water.


It was then that I spotted the reason we had come here.  Balanced on a bizarrely shaped limestone pinnacle with trees sprouting from cracks in the rock stands Kyauk Kalat Pagoda.  Now this was one cool sight!

The pagoda stands on an island located in the center of an artificial lake which you cross over via a wooden boardwalk.  Looking at the pagoda, you have to wonder how the monks actually built this thing!


Ayşe graciously posing for a photo.

Since there is no room on the small island to conduct religious ceremonies, the pavilion serves this purpose.  Makes sense.




Kyauk Kalat is home to a working monastery though we only saw one  monk the day we were there and he was busy feeding chickens. Since Buddhist monks are vegetarians, these chickens are pets; not meant for the dinner table.  There was also a small cage of hamsters (or maybe they're gerbils?) - no doubt pets for the monks.




Shoes off, we took the steps up to the pagoda's entrance.


I was expecting to see religious art - perhaps some stone wall murals but there was virtually nothing. Very unexpected but I appreciate the fact that devoid of artwork, this was a very tranquil place.  I can see why monks come here to meditate.  It's also off the beaten path just enough that there aren't all that many tourists invading the monks' space.


The only thing that the pagoda offered us was views of the surroundings.  We took the steps as high up as we could.


Our intrepid guide, Spring aka Nway Oo.


At the highest level we could go up, there were a few small stupas.  I don't think that people, other than the monks, can reach the stupa that sits at the top of the pinnacle.







It was short visits to a very unique landmarks but the gem was yet to come!