01
Mar
11

Shwe Yan Pyay : a Burmese Monastery with unique oval-shape windows

Nyaung Shwe is a town a few kilometers north of Inle Lake in the Shan State of Myanmar. Nyaung Shwe is the tourist hub for visiting Inle Lake. It consists of one main thoroughfare with numerous side streets and a few parallel roads. The main street has numerous shops, several restaurants, a few stupas, travel agencies and a market. The town serves as a marina for the numerous long boats carrying tourists into the lake. The lake itself is located a few kilometers south through a river channel.

Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery is just a short walk north of the town and is well-known by photographers for its unique oval-shape windows which serve as eye-catching frames when novice monks stand to look out.

The monastery has a beautifully carved, gilded ceiling. The red painted, teak-wood building is an interesting architectural structure on its own. It’s over 150 years old and sits on sturdy stilts. Inside are mosaics, mirrors and ornate carvings, some gilded with gold.

Populating it, of course, are monks, but with a twist: most are boys, monks in training, here to learn about their religion and to see if they might fit into the monk lifestyle. Most of the monks have a cat as pet.

Next to the monastery you can find a small temple with hundreds of little Buddha statues. This devoted area is certainly worthed a visit.

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3 Responses to “Shwe Yan Pyay : a Burmese Monastery with unique oval-shape windows”


  1. January 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Why do these young monks look so unhappy?

    • January 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      I don’t have the idea these monks look unhappy, they look ‘serious’.
      These monks are often young boys who come from big families and who’re left by their parents at the monastery. In the monastery they get free education + food and drinks. They can leave the monastery whenever they want. They don’t have to stay forever as a monk. During my conversations with these monks, I didn’t got the idea they were unhappy. A picture says more than thousand words, but sometimes the same picture can be interpretated at different ways 🙂


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