Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Hidden Gem. Kawgun Cave.


Of all the places I've been to in Myanmar, on this trip, Kawgun Cave was my hands down favorite. This is truly a gem of a temple. It's not on the usual tourist path so we were the only non-locals here which made for a very enjoyable experience - we could easily walk around and take photos without a million people messing up the view and.....it was quiet which lets you get lost in your own head space.  Above all, the place is visually stunning. 

On the way in, we did stop to check out some of the food offerings from vendors set up just outside the entrance to the cave.  Bro had to have his last taste of sugar cane water.




The very modern looking archway does not do justice to the beauty you find within the cave temple.  In some ways, I think they should tear this structure down as the two foo lions are all that are needed to protect the temple and to greet visitors.



A few macaques were out and about.  Ayşe was still a bit leery about passing them by but we assured her they would leave her alone, especially since she did not have any food to offer them. It's amusing how one, wee, little, baby macaque, snarling at her out of fear, has scarred her for life :-)


Monkeys behind us, I truly gasped in awe as we entered the cave temple.  Amazing view!! 



There are countless Buddha images positioned throughout the cave temple and a multitude carved on the cave walls.

What's most striking though are the cave walls - covered in rippling mosaics of terracotta votive tablets and stucco reliefs.


A terrcotta votive tablet.

Sadly any of the oldest Buddha images and votive tablets have been destroyed by tremors resulting from work at the nearby cement factory, leaving only a few sandstone tablets of late Bagan-style carving.  This is when you really want a place like this to fall under UNESCO World Heritage Site designation so it can be preserved for future generations to admire.


The whole look of the cave temple is very beautiful and I'm really glad we got to see this hidden gem!  Here are some of the photos I took while I was here.


















Kawgun Cave dates back to the 7th century AD, commissioned by a Mon queen.  Apparently, the complex been buried for some time and then rediscovered.  In a small pit, near the entrance, were what looked to be remnants of images that were excavated but not restored.




Unfortunately, we weren't able to spend as much time here as I would have liked though I probably could've have easily been here for quite some time just taking photos.  There was so much beauty I wanted to capture.  As far as I was concerned, this was the highlight of my two week trip.  I would love to come back here one day and spend more time.

As consolation to our visit being so short, I pulled the other three over to check out the palm fruit that one of the vendors was selling.  Bro and I had tasted the juice when we were visiting Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. I have to admit, I did not like the juice but I do enjoy the fruit though the only palm fruit I have ever eaten has come out of a can.


Spring found bags of the fresh fruit and showed us how to determine which fruit is best to eat.  Has to be completely white in color and firm to the touch.  We decided to buy a bag to share.  Fresh palm has the texture of the canned fruit but it's not been cooking in all that heavy sugar syrup so it's much more enjoyable to eat.



We're off to lunch at the same Feel restaurant we ate at yesterday and then our road trip back to Yangon continues!