Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Tue 5 Dec 2017 23:17
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda
As Udin pulled up in front of this pagoda we had the distinct underwhelming thoughts of “oh no, not another one” but the chance to stretch our legs and go and ....................
.........see the ceremonial boat won the moment.
We left our shoes in the boat and enjoyed the cool tiles whilst bimbling through the requisite stalls selling such familiar ‘stuff’.
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Up the steps to a rather lovely ceiling.
The first thing that caught our eye was a large TV screen showing men around what looked like five loaves of golden bread......research later, clearly now necessary. Loaves and fishes came to mind and as we often say there are many similarities between the various religions. For now we continue to look around.
Seeing (yet again) the ‘Ladies are Prohibited’ sign, I sent Bear off with the camera.
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There were men vigorously adding more gold to the ‘loaves’.

Later we read: The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is the most revered monastery in the Inle Lake area. It houses five ancient images of the Buddha (nine to eighteen inches in height), that are completely covered in golf leaf. The images are over eight hundred years old and are kept in an ornate shrine.

So much gold leaf has been applied to the images, that they have become unrecognisable as Buddha images and look like a solid mass of gold. Every day Buddhist devotees come to the monastery to pay their respect to the images and apply more gold leaf, which only men are allowed to do.

The images are believed to have been brought to the Inle Lake region by Alaungsithu, King of the Bagan empire in the 12th century. The King was a devout Buddhist, who travelled extensively around his empire and had many Buddhist monuments built across his Kingdom, the most impressive one being the Thatbyinnyu Temple in Bagan.


Over a bridge is a pagoda that houses the Royal Karaweik boat, it comes out in October for a very special festival and carries four of the five Buddha images in a procession across the lake during the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival. At the front of the boat is the large gilded head of a Karaweik bird. From here we could see the ornate ornate pavilion topped with three multi-tiered Burmese style Pyatthat roofs in the centre of the boat.





Amidships the ‘table’ that carries the Buddha images........



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........under an ornate canopy covered in fairy lights.



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Behind the table are two guardians and at the back of the boat is the gilded tail of the mythological bird and the red painted back plate dated October 1997.


The Phaung Daw Oo pagoda festival is held during the Burmese month of Thadingyut, the 7th month of the Burmese lunar calendar (October/November). The 18-day festival is the most important festival in the Shan state. In a procession of boats four of the five images of the Buddha are removed from their shrine in the Phaung Daw Oo pagoda and placed on the Royal Karaweik barge. The barge is towed by long boats manned by up to a hundred leg rowers in colourful costumes. The Royal barge stops at 14 villages around Inle lake, where the images stay in the main monastery for one night.

The story goes – Until the mid 1960’s all five images of the Buddha were carried around the lake on the Karaweik barge. In 1965 one of the images got lost when the boat carrying them capsized and the images fell into the lake. People dived into the water and managed to recover four of them, but the 5th remained lost. Finally they gave up their search and returned to the Phaung Daw Oo pagoda. Back in the pagoda, they found the lost image miraculously back in its shrine. Since 1965, only four of the images are carried around the lake, the 5th one remaining in the pagoda.





Beyond the pagoda housing the Royal Karaweik boat was the parking shed for the ceremonial longtails. What a sight it must be to see all the one-legged rowers paddling in unison.



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Back on the bridge we watched as tour boats did three-point turns and headed back for their clients.





A quick look as we walked once again past the stalls. The local ladies outfits making a colourful splash.



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Udin pulls us away from an interesting visit as a pair of geese scruff around over some dropped popcorn.





A-never-to-be-forgotten Buddha.......





.......or his peers.

                     HOW VERY DIFFERENT