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An hour and a half's drive from Kalaw in southwestern Shan State, through a landscape of glowing red and yellow somewhat reminiscent of Tuscany, you will come to the cosy little town of Pindaya. From a distance, you can see the white covered walkways to the much venerated limestone Pindaya Caves, winding up the hill like giant snakes. It is possible either to climb the hundreds of steps on foot or take the lift, and once you are at the top you will be greeted by a breathtaking view of the hills opposite and of the town itself, with its artificial lake and the mighty banyan trees around it. According to the legend, four princesses were bathing in the nearby Boutalake Lake and were abducted by a giant spider, which kept them imprisoned in the cave. A bold prince killed the monster with a bow and arrows, rescued the princesses, and took the most beautiful of them as his wife.

Shwe U Min Pagoda

At the entrance to the dripstone cave is the gilded Shwe U Min Pagoda, from which an elaborate network of caves and passengers extends deep into the heart of the hill. There are over 8,000 gilded statues of the Buddha, in all sizes and poses, made of wood, plaster, bronze and sandstone. Pilgrims and tourists alike stand awestruck before a statue. Most of the figures were probably made during the 18th century and were brought here by pilgrims. The oldest inscription is dated 1783.

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