Kyaukse is 30 miles (50 km) to the south of
The town is particularly famous for its
annual elephant festival with the elephant
dance, which is held in October.
reason there are two white plaster elephants
at the entrance to the village to greet
visitors. Legend has it that King Anawrahta
pitched camp near Kyaukse as he was
traveling back from China.
The ruler had
brought various relics back form China with
him, and he wanted to build a pagoda in
a place worthy of them. He thus strapped the
relics to the back of his elephant and let
him go with the injunction that he guides
him to a suitable location for the
construction of the pagoda.
went straight towards the hill east of
Kyaukse and knelt down there, so King
Anawrahta built the Shwe-tha-lyaung Pagoda,
a shrine commemorating the Buddha’s death,
on this spot.
In honor of that elephant, the inhabitants
of Kyaukse celebrate Hsin-pwe,
“Elephant Festival”, with the elephant
dance, each year. Elephant costumes
are fashioned from bamboo, cloth and
paper, and two men climb inside each one
to perform an elephant dance.
up to the Shwe-tha-lyaung Pagoda, at
the top of the mountain of the same
name, there’s a meditation monastery
built in the shape of a ship.