KAYIN (KAREN) STATE
KAYIN (KAREN) STATE
Is on elongated area lying to the south-east running from the north-west to the south-east. The total area of the State is 11,731 square miles. Besides Kayins who are the majority, the Mons, Myanmars, Taungthus and Shans live in Kayin State. The Kayins are the second largest minority in Myanmar. There are two types of Kayin the hill Kayins and the plain Kayins. And they differ in language and physical features. There are animists, Buddhists and Christians among Kayins but the majority are Buddhists. The Kayins have their own letters, literature and culture. Main economy is agriculture and its related businesses. Rice, betelnut, ground nut, sesame, peas, beans, coffee, tea are grown. Rubber plantations are found in the southern areas. Evergreen forests cover roughly half of the region. Teak and other hard wood timber are important products of the region. The plains at Kayin State are dotted by lime stone caverns and lime stone hills protruding steeply upwards. Among the hills, Zwegabin hill is the most prominent with a height of 2,372 ft above sea level.
There are many Kayin cultural activities worshipping the Duway Pagoda, propagating Nat spirit paying homage to etcetera deities traditional boom fire festival are held since old time till today. On such occasion, Kayin Don dance is performed. Don dance originated from the collected social activities. Kayins love Don dance. Don dance provoke communal unity and cultivate sense of corporation. Don dance is the naional cultural performance portraying the beauty and love sign of Kayins. It’s long last as one of Kayins traditional dances.
How to get there
It can be reached in 8 hours drive from Yangon. In the north a road leads to Thandaung from Toungoo in Bago Division. Mawchi-Mawchi road passes through the Kayin State. In the south, the Yangon-Mottama Road branches out to Pha-an via Thaton and Myaing Galay. There is another road from Mawlamyine to Pha-an. Kayin State still has no rail service but it is well provided with natural waterways. The Thanlyin river is one of the major transport routes. River boats from Mawlamyine can sail upstream to Shwegun in the north of Pha-An, the capital. Along the Ataran river boats are able to connect Kya-In-Seik-Gyi with Mawlamyine. Visitors to Pha-An normally arrive by road from Thaton on Yangon - Mawlamyine highway. Some tourists come by boat from Mawlamyine.
Is the capital of Kayin State. Recently removed from the restricted list of travel destinations. Possible to reach it by road from Yangon across a new Bridge ( Thanlwin ) over the Thanlwin River. Hpa-an is small town but busy commerce center where you can see farmers coming to town in horse-carts or trishaws. There is a small Lake with Mt. Zwegabin in the distance.
What to see there
On the other side of the lake, just cross the bridge, is a small museum displaying Karen Culture.
The Zwekabin Hill has a very unusual shape, which, once seen, is not easily forgotten. Rises around 650 Meter steeply from the plains. A pagoda is on top for those who are fit enough to walk up to the top. It takes app. 2 hours, but the view over the river and the plains will compensate you for the strenuous walk. There is also a monastery on the top.
Thamanya Hill is located 23 miles south-east of Hpa-an beside the Hpa-an - Kawkareik road. This place is very famous for the most venerable monk "Thamanya Sayardaw", passed away in 2003. Pilgrims all over the country come to pay homage so it is always full of pilgrims and devotees.
Kawgun cave is located near Kawgun village, which is two miles distance from Hpa An township. It is a natural lime stone cave and measures 200 fts height and 300 fts length. The rock surface is profusely decorated with different kinds of clay Buddha images and votive tablets. It is a rare cave in the lower Myanmar. According to the style of the Buddha images it can be datable to 15th century A.D. Hanthawaddy period.
Soon after the end of the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852, when Lower Myanmar was annexed, the British using imported Indian labourers first developed Thandaung as a hill station.
Thandaung is only 200 miles away from Yangon and can be reached by car or bus on a half day's journey. If visitors prefer using the railway, they can ride the train from Yangon to Taungoo in about six hours, and from Taungoo to Thandaung it is only 27 miles up by car passing through lush virgin forests, see cascading mountain streams and climb gradually to over 4,000 feet, to reach Thandaung.
Thandaung is a very beautiful hill station and an important tea, coffee and fruit producing region. It is the land mark of the Kayin state.