Yathe Byan Cave
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Mon 11 Dec 2017 23:07
Yathe Byan Cave
We took a side road and at the end saw quite a sight, a holy place half in and half out of a cave.
We climbed the steep steps passing a few faithful and read the information board: The Ya-The-Byan Cave is one of the natural limestone caves which is situated on the western side of Than Lwin River at 116 feet above sea-level, near the Ya-The-Byan village, Hpa An Township, Kayin State.
On the eastern walls and the interior of the Ya-The-Byan Cave, votive tablets and many Buddha images of different sizes from 3 inches to 5 feet in height can be seen.
As there is no direct sunlight, the original workmanship of Buddha images is well preserved and can be viewed today. Studies show that statues, images and votive tablets were donated in the 17th Century by many pilgrims and devotees who wanted to make merit from nearby region. There are three Buddha images in sitting and standing positions which are nearly 5 feet in the height and carved on the walls. A significant motif of these Buddha images is the rising of flames from the hair-knot. Some of the Buddha images can be dated to the top A.D 13th Century. Some of the votive tablets have been lost due to natural disasters and long duration.
The Department of Archaeology, National Library and Museum of Ministry of Culture has preserved and maintained the Ya-The-Byan Cave since 1975.
View from the top of the steps.
Bear’s new friends, sadly, a bit crumbly.
Above us, the higher cave.
We went to explore the cave and saw some nice Saracens heads.
High above us a golden stupa and steps up to the outside.
To our right was a ‘field’ of stone mounds.
The end of the field of stones, looking up at Bear on the stairs up to the viewing platform.
Up the steps we looked up to a viewing platform, reached by a bridge, with quite painful floor matting.
Once there, Bear posed with new friends.
Back in the cave we took in more of Nature’s sculptures.
Back in the first part of the cave with quite a line-up.
Holding hands gives an idea of how big the Buddha’s are.
Up the steps to the top of the cave and loads Buddhas carved or added to the wall.
Down the front steps of the upper cave.
View out from the top.
Outside, a well with a bucket for feet washing and an information board about the bats.
The caves around Hpa An are home to millions of bats from over 10 different species. The keystone species within the caves are bats. The copious guano they deposit beneath their roosts has enabled a whole ecosystem of unique flora and fauna to develop. These bats not only create ecosystems but provide important ecosystem services for human communities: by eating huge numbers of agricultural pests, and by providing guano that is harvested regularly by local communities, they are a valuable asset.
Based on scientific surveys, at least 7 species of invertebrates can be found in Yathet Pyan cave. The smallest rare species of bat and the world’s smallest mammal Kitti’s hog-nosed bat also known as bumblebee bat Craseonycteristhonglongyai are living in this cave. Among the 7 species of bat, Minopterusmagnater, numbers around 50,000, as the large number of bat is found in this cave.
The cave ecosystems created by the bats are fragile; too much disturbance and they begin to unravel. In developing the sites we need to achieve a delicate balance, allowing the caves to be visited by pilgrims and tourists, but in a way that allows the wild creatures to share them, too.
ALL IN ALL QUITE A HAPPY FEELING CAVE
DOESN’T LOOK AS OLD AS IT IS