Pindaya is famous for its limestone caves, which are not so much a natural wonder as a fascinating pilgrimage site. Shwe U Min Cave (golden Cave) is set in the hillside. Here you will find over 8000 Buddha images from materials such as alabaster, teak, marble, stone, bronze, lacquer and cement. These statues have been brought here since the cave became a place of worship in the 18th century.
At the entrance to the caves sits Shwe U Min Pagoda. The tazaung or prayer hall was built by the hermit U Khanti who also built many of the religious edifices on Mandalay Hill.
A local legend tells us: Seven princesses were relaxing in the cave, when suddenly a giant monster spider closed the entrance with her net. Fourtunately a prince was nearby and heard them cry for help. The oldest and wisest of the princesses asked him for help and offered him the youngest and prettiest of them for marriage. The prince shot the spider with an arrow – pingu in Burmese. He then exclaimed “pingu-ya” (“the spider is dead”). This is said to be the origin of the name Pindaya.
A bit further into the main cave you will arrive at a pair of sweating Buddha images. “For some reason, moisture only appears on these two statues, making them especially popular with pilgrims, who compete with each other for a chance to wipe away the “perspiration” that constantly covers them”, writes irrawaddy.org.
Close to the end of the 490-foot walking tour of the cave you will see people collecting clay under a signpost that reads “Black Clay Hillock”. It’s the only place in the Pindaya area where the earth is black instead of red. People see this as a sign that the clay is sacred and can be used to ward off evil spirits. Some stalagmites in the cave produce gong tones when hit.
After leaving the cave you look down to Botoloke Lake. Pindaya is perched on its banks. You can combine the cave-visit with a round trip: First you walk along Shwe U Min Pagoda Road to get to the caves, and then you return along the covered walkway that follows the hillside. On this way you reach a beautiful teak monastery. To get to the cave you can also take horse-carts. 200 steps up the covered stairway lead to the cave entrance.
In February/March the pagoda’s trustees held a six-day festival. Then there is a mile-long market and you can watch traditional Myanmar dance troupes performing under old banyan trees in the pagoda compound. On the eve of the fullmoon day the Danu, the main ethnic group in the area, present traditional music and dance performances. The banyan trees are centuries-old and said to be the most beautiful in Shan State.
Source: Myanmar Insider