Photo: Beautiful Saddar Cave's entrance chamber.

Saddar Cave

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A visit to wonderful Saddar Cave is one of Kayin State’s highlights. The limestone karst scenery of Zwegabin and the numerous jagged, mountainous outcrops sprouting abruptly from the paddy surrounding Hpa-an host myriad spectacular caves. Saddar (sometimes written Saddan) involves a cave temple but also a hike through underground passages to the far side of a mountain and a return by wooden boat. It really is something special.

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The entrance to Saddar Cave is reached via a few kilometres of dirt track off the main Hpa-an to Mawlamyine highway. It’s at the foot of a short flight of steps on the southwest side of the mountain. You’ll find an impressive natural entrance chamber filled with various statues perched above stalactites, stupas, a large reclining Buddha plus pretty gold-painted stucco designs on the cavern walls.

Buddha reclining, monks relaxing. Photo taken in or around Saddar Cave, Hpa-an, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

Buddha reclining, monks relaxing. Photo: Mark Ord

While you have to take off your shoes before entering this religious site, you’ll need to carry them with you since you’ll be exiting by a different route. Heading towards the rear of the first cave — to the left of the reclining Buddha — an underground passage continues on through the heart of the mountain. Electric lighting is provided once you’ve made a request and a donation of 1,000 kyat per person to the monks at the cave entrance.

A sideways glance? Photo taken in or around Saddar Cave, Hpa-an, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

A sideways glance? Photo: Mark Ord

Once you are past the principal cave temple it’s okay to put your shoes back on since you’ll be walking several hundred metres through the mountain on a surface varying between concrete steps, rocks, sand and several inches of bat poo. The path leads up and down somewhat but is generally pretty easy. The steepest parts have steps, though they can occasionally be slippery, and be warned that the stink of guano can be powerful. After a 15-minute walk you’ll emerge into a stunning scene on the far east side of the mountain as the tunnel exit opens up to reveal a picturesque tree-lined pool.

There’s a small drinks stand by the pool so you can stop for a break before continuing on by one of the waiting wooden boats. Villagers will punt you across the pool into another, this time water-filled, tunnel on ... Travelfish members only (Around 500 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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