Photo: Iconic Yele pagoda.

Kyaikkami and Yele Pagoda

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One day when there’s a souvenir shop in Mawlamyine high street selling Mon handicrafts, maps and postcards, Yele Pagoda will feature heavily among the tourist cliches. The red-roofed, gleaming white and ochre monastery jutting into the sometimes turquoise, sometimes murky brown waters of the Bay of Bengal is one of Mon State’s most iconic views.

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The quiet little coastal town of Kyaikkami was for a brief period after the first Anglo-Burmese war of 1824-26 the capital of British Lower Burma. Today it’s a sleepy backwater. There’s a few old buildings, including what’s reputed to be Burma’s oldest church, some restaurants and tea shops, but the highlight is the spectacular and unusual Yele Pagoda.

Kyaikkami’s Yele Pagoda. Photo taken in or around Kyaikkami and Yele Pagoda, Mawlamyine, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

Kyaikkami’s Yele Pagoda. Photo: Mark Ord

The temple, dating to the early 19th century, perches on top of a natural rock promontory where a Buddha image washed ashore after floating on a raft all the way from Sri Lanka. The main shrine also houses some of Buddha’s hairs, so this is a site of considerable religious importance for locals — and a highly picturesque one for others. The monastery architecture in itself isn’t very exciting, but rather it’s the setting ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)

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