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September 19, 2019

Ancient Tha Ye Cave near Kalaw

  • By Thiha Lulin

 

In my Kalaw trip, I went to an interesting and secluded limestone cave with an ancient pagoda. The ancient pagoda and the cave were in a place about 11 miles away from Kalaw Town. The interest in the place was raised after a group went there to find a suitable location for a movie scene. There were some posting on social media sites as an un-maintained pagoda requiring maintenance and renovation. Hopefully it would be a systematic maintenance and renovation that retains the ancient works.

Ancient Buddha statues at the entrance of the cave. Photo: thiha Lulin

Tha Ye Cave
The name of the cave Tha Ye was written as Tha Ye (ghost) but some pronounced it Ta Ye. But hearing the name for the first time could make you shiver with fear for thinking there must be ghosts in the cave.
The cave was close to a village, Tha Ye Village, and may be that was why it was called Tha Ye Cave. People who had repaired or maintained the pagoda in the earlier days had put up a sign with the village name as such and thus the name remains as it is. The cave was a natural one and except for some Buddha images and the pagoda near the mouth of it, the inner part of the cave had Speleothems or cave formations typically seen in limestone caves. Those cave formations were of much interest for me. The Buddha images were considered to be several hundred years old. Buddha images renovated and maintained during the period 2005 to 2010 were seen at the ascent to the cave mouth. The cave mouth can be reached by walking along the narrow pathway winding along the side of the mountain. There were some Buddha images placed in places where the pathway widens due to cavities in the mountain side. As the mouth of the natural cave was hidden by the Buddha images it was thanks to a monk from a monastery along the way that we were able to find it.
Birds and probably bats were in the cave so if I went there alone, the place would be scary and look as though it was haunted. The cave was said to be quite long as the end couldn’t be reached even after walking in for an hour. Some also say the cave is the brother cave of to Pindaya Shwe U Min cave with the Pindaya cave considered as the sister cave. The pagoda festival was held for a day only.

Guardian Lion statues and entrance of the covered passage.  Photo: Thiha Lulin

How to reach it
As there isn’t much visitor, the way to the place was not well know. Going along the Aungban-Pindaya Road from Kalaw and passing the big garbage dump in Aungban will bring you to Hnin Shwe Yi fuel station. There’s a small earth road beside the fuel station and we drive along it for about 10 minutes checking with every farmers we found along the way to ensure that we were on the right way. In the open season, a small and medium-size car can be driven along the earth road. But during the raining season, the place wouldn’t be accessible by car as the road would be full of mud bogging down any car trying to go over it.

My trip there
In my trip there, my curiosity and interest was raised on seeing the two lion statue at the foot of the mountain where there was an old covered path to the cave. I was a bit worried that the climb may be tiring but reached the mouth of the cave after a short climb. There were many Buddha images of various sizes that were obviously of ancient styles. There were many more after entering a bit into the cave but deeper inside the cave, it was just a natural limestone cave.
If a person asked me whether it was worthwhile to visit the place, I would say it’ll depend on the person who was putting up the question. Some may say “Is this all?” after seeing the place while some will say it is an invaluable place with ancient images and a natural cave.
I only have cautionary word for renovation and maintenance. Opinions and advice of archaeologist and experts should be obtained so that the original styles and made of the images were not altered.
May all visitors to the place have a safe and happy trip to Tha Ye Cave.
Translated by Handytips

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