Sunday, February 28, 2016

Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery. The Jumping Cat Monastery.


Nga Phe Kyaung is a wooden monastery built on stilts.  Built in the 1850's, it's both the oldest and  largest monastery in Inle Lake.  Locals nicknamed it the Jumping Cat Monastery because in the past, monks had trained a few cats to leap through small hoops primarily to entertain tourists.   The cat jumping through hoops practice ended some years back because either the new head monk did not approve of the practice or the monks stopped because of negative foreign press.  Whatever the real reason is, I only saw one cat today and that was on the way out of the monastery.

We came to the Jumping Cat Monastery after spending a few minutes looking at the floating gardens that line the channel of water leading to the monastery.


As best as I could tell, the monastery is actually built on solid ground but very close to the water's edge.  I wondered why it wasn't set back a bit more.  Perhaps there is a land entrance but we arrived by boat.

Our captain moored the boat to the pier and we got out.  Before entering the building, we took off our shoes or in Bro's case, his flip flops.


Inside was a very open space with dark wood floors and walls.


The wood ceiling was supported by numerous painted columns. In the center of the room were several elaborately carved pedestals displaying the monastery's collection of Buddha images from Tibet, Bagan and different parts of Myanmar.



The most important of these Buddha images is one that sits on a green cushion and is lit from above.  You can't miss it.








There was one very unusual image - housed inside a small replica of a temple.  At the base, there was a small carving of a monk prostrating.


The monastery space was very open.  To one side was a small kitchen and dining table and right next to it, an area that I would describe as a library with shelves of books and chairs for sitting and reading.



To one side of the room, a large section of the floor had been covered with mats.  Trays of tea cups, along with thermos and a small glass container holding roasted soy beans had been set out on the mat.  My guess is these are provided, free of charge, for pilgrims who come for prayer.



For anyone in need of quenching their thirst, there were plenty of the ubiquitous water pots available.


There was also a gift shop if you needed to purchase an offering or souvenir.


Although there wasn't a whole lot to see inside the monastery, we didn't rush our visit.
Can you see the cat walking alongside Ayşe?  It was the only kitty I saw the whole time I was visiting the monastery.



Next, we get to visit some textile workshops.  This I am looking forward to!