Inle Lake is the second largest natural lake in Myanmar. It is located in the middle of a greatest depression in the Nyaung Shwe valley, between the two parallel mountain ranges that run from north to south in the Southern Shan State. The lake is 35 km away from the nearest airport at Heho. There are flights from both Yangon and Mandalay flying to Heho on a daily basis. Inle Lake is 14 miles long and 7 miles wide and comparatively shallow. It lies at 4358 feet above the sea level among the hazy blue-mountains that are native to the Southern Shan State. The locals in the Inle Lake area are known as ‘Inthas’’ and are devout Buddhists The Intha men are known for their farming and fishing skills while women are known for their superb silk weaving skills.
The largest village on the Inlay Lake has an intricate web of canals that are used as roads. There are several teak houses that are been built on large wooden piles driven directly into the lake bed. The main tourist activity and attraction in Ywama is the floating market which is located on the widest canal in the village.
Phaungdaw Oo pagoda
The Phaungdaw O Pagoda is home to the five most revered Buddha statues in Myanmar, and these statues are commonly believed to have miraculous powers. Over the years, these statues have been covered with so many gold leaves that it is impossible to see their original structures. In the month of September (or October) the four of these five statues are carried on a royal barge and ferried around the lake. The Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda festival draws people from several parts of Myanmar not only to pay homage to the Buddha statutes, but also to enjoy the lively fair that accompanies it.The famous unique leg-rowing competitions that take place between Inthas is also a huge attraction.
Shwe Indein Pagoda
The Shwe Indein Pagoda is located on the summit of a hill in one of the smaller villages on the western bank of the Inle Lake. The Pagoda has a Buddha image that is enshrined in a whitewashed stupa, and below the stupa, surrounding the hill, lies hundreds of ancient stupas, most of which are in ruins engulfed with overgrown bushes. The pagoda hill is quiet and calm, and a cool breeze usually passes through the region ringing all the little bells hanging from the stupa umbrellas.
This mysterious place is located at the end of the marvellous Indein creek which is connected to Inlay Lake. The creek is narrow with many twist and turns, and both sides of the bank are covered in paddy fields. At lunch time, while the farmers take rest the water buffaloes working in the fields enjoy themselves by taking a dip in the creek. Several bamboo dams that were built by local farmers for better irrigation can also be witnessed along the creek.
How to get to Inle Lake
The most convenient way to get to Inle is to fly from Yangon to Heho and take a car from there to the lake. There are daily flights to Heho from Yangon which takes about an hour. However, if you are flying from Mandalay to Heho, it takes only 20 minutes. Traveling by car along the uphill and winding road over the Shan Plateau may take several more hours than flying, but the journey is worth experiencing. There are also regular train services via Thazi Junction to Heho and Shwenyaung which is the nearest station to Inle Lake.