Tilawkaguru Cave Monastery, Sagaing Hill
We drove down the hill from our last stop and our driver pulled up at some closed gates in front of a museum. Hopping out and entering a side gate, he reappeared a few minutes later with a set of keys. “I know who to ask”. OK then. We drove for five minutes or so and left the road, the track led us to a sign outside a very old building.
We waited for our driver to unlock the gate and fiddle with the light switches, nope, they didn’t work so he pulled a torch from his pocket and led the way. We were in a corridor, pointing to the arch on the right he said “I want to save the best until last” so we passed that dark entrance and headed to the end where we could faintly make out a staircase. We passed ‘cells’ that were and are still used for private and silent mediation.
Beautiful patterns on the ceiling and walls, we passed more cells. Built around 1672, we could make out bright reds, yellows, blues but especially turquoise that produced richer more vivid murals in this unique meditation cave.
Wall Buddha’s leading to another cell and yet more Buddha’s, their rich red robes still visible but the surrounds sadly gone.
Looking down the stairs we had just climbed. The upper corridor, lit as the monks would see by the light from the small windows and in torchlight.
In the space behind us at the top of the stairs – an umbrella from the spire of a pagoda, we wondered if it had belonged to this building before it fell ???. Each cell we passed we peered in hoping for a wow, but only found bits and bobs. We walked the full length of the upper corridor and took the stairs at the far end.
More cells at the bottom, but then we stopped at the most important prayer room, still used today for silent meditation. The a prayer room lit by a window. Now for the cell with the special white surround - our grand finale........
At the entrance our driver shone his torch along the ceiling “Buddha’s footprint”, in rich reds that led to the sacred shrine.
Heading back outside we wondered if in its prime the building had multiple entrances.
Our driver led us through a gateway and we followed a wall – looking up we could see where a huge pagoda must have stood. Further along and we were in a huge courtyard, on the left monk’s washday.
Wash stand and the monk’s teeth care – good advert for Colgate.
Monks prayer hall.
We walked around the side of the prayer hall and saw a very attractive monastery, quite a surprise.
It was nice to amble around in the sunshine taking in the domestic scenes.
The gong, brooms and back to the washday yard.
Shower in use (block of three), clean robe waiting, handsome chap and off we go.
Heading back to the car we couldn’t help but think how this whole complex would have looked stunning in its day. On we go.
ALL IN ALL SUCH A SILENT, COOL PLACE OF WORSHIP AND MEDITATION
PRIVILEGED TO SEE THE CAVE