FolkestoneJack's Tracks

A morning in Thaton

Posted in Myanmar, Thaton by folkestonejack on January 14, 2017

A beautiful sunrise over Thaton seemed like a promising start to our expedition to the golden rock, but first there was time to enjoy a walk to Shwe Saw Yan Pagoda. The cluttered and dusty streets surrounding the pagoda make quite a contrast with the gleaming golden stupa and many beautiful temple buildings that surround it.

Sunrise over Thaton

Sunrise over Thaton

There are signs that the tourist dollar has now reached Thaton, with the opening of the first four star hotel a few weeks ago, but it hasn’t really made much difference at street level yet. Mind you, the modest town of today is probably equally far removed from the fast developing modern cities of South East Asia as it is from the thriving ocean port and city-state that Thaton was one thousand years ago!

In common with many other places that I have seen here the pavements outside the pagoda present an assortment of obstacles, crumbling concrete and the occasional hole. Inevitably, a pack of malnourished dogs was never very far away. Somehow, in spite of all this, the Burma that I love shines through and everyone I encountered along the way was incredibly friendly.

The street scene around the pagoda

The street scene around the pagoda

The first Shwe Saw Yan Pagoda is supposed to have been built around 5BC but all trace of that has long since disappeared and the only indication of its long hitory has come from the discovery of seven historic tablets on the site.

A wander around the complex showed that it has plenty to fascinate beyond the golden stupa at its centre. Amongst the side attractions are the inevitable chinthe gate guardians, an ornate temple at the centre of a colourful display of floor tiles, a white tiled dome stupa (and pigeon magnet) and a rather splendid diorama which I assume shows the many pagodas on the hills around Thaton (perhaps historically, rather than in the present?). A good view across the complex is also available from the upper terrace of the temple at the very back of the site.

One of the temples around the central stupa

One of the temples around the central stupa

Smaller pagodas are scattered throughout the town and I stopped off at one of these on my way back. The keyholder was pleased to have a visitor to show around and eagerly unlocked a room on the site filled with small statues of Buddha that he was keen to show me.

If I had a little more time it would have been interesting to climb the hillside to reach the pagoda of Mya Thapaint that was so marvelously depicted in the diorama. However, it was time for us to continue on our drive to the golden rock.


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