Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary
Magnificent Indawgyi Lake aspiring to be inscribed as Geopark byThan Htun (Myanmar Geosciences Society)
The wetlands of Indawgyi are globally important for conservation: the lake it is resting and feeding ducks, geese, and pelicans; the floating vegetation with jacanas balancing over leaves; lakeshore reeds providing shelter for the purple swamphens and crakes; and flooded grasslands with feeding cranes and storks.
One of the most residents is the rare Sarus Crane with its prominent red head sticking out from grasslands and paddy fields. Indawgyi Lake basin is surrounded by forested hills, home of amazing birds such as the Rufous-necked and Great Hornbill, with Gibbons calling and shy colored Leopards searching for prey.
Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its birds, especially the reed, seasonally flooded grassland, the floating vegetation which are responsible for high biodiversity including bird’s species. Every October more than 20,000 water birds start arriving from their summer breeding grounds in China and Siberia. Most birds come to stay over winter, but others only stop to rest and feed, preparing for a much longer journey to Australia.
In the Indawgyi Lake area, 10 endangered species can be observed. Of these species, greylag geese, Oriental darter, and purple swamphen are prominent during the month of January. A tour of the lake by motor canoe allows one to view a large array of wetland species. It appears that the lake and surrounding wetlands provide an important winter feeding habitat.
Kachin State is served by the three airports Bhamo Airport, Myitkyina Airport, and Putao Airport. There is a railroad between Myitkyina and Mandalay via Sagaing. The train will take 21–30 hours from Mandalay to Myitkyina. Indawgyi Lake can be reached by train from Myitkyina via Hopin and it will take about 5 hours for 107 miles. Again, from Hopin to Lonton Village at Indawgyi Lake by private taxi or by motorbike and it will take 2 hours for 27 miles. The daily train and bus services are available from Yangon or Mandalay to Indawgyi Lake via Hopin the nearest town. Lonton has been upgraded as a new township of Mohnyin District recently.
The licensed accommodation at Indawgyi Lake can only be found in Lonton village, on the west bank of Indawgyi Lake. Indaw Mahar guest house has a fairly basic facility with simple rooms and a shared bathroom, There are also homestay system and a military-owned guest house in Lonton.
Shwe Myitzu Pagoda
The most famous and beautiful landmark at Indawgyi Lake is Shwe Myitzu Pagoda which is shining in the middle of the lake. The annual Pagoda festival held the end of February and earlyMarch. It is the end of the dry season and the water level is low enough to walk along the wooded trail from the mainland to the Pagoda in the lake.
Shwe Taung (Golden Mountain)
Shwe Taung is situated at the north bank of Indawgyi Lake and has a pagoda and monastery on top of the hill and provide with panoramic views of the lake. It will take about 30-minute walk to the hilltop and some local generous people will offer you refreshment on the way.
Lwemun Village is located on the western bank of the lake and the most picturesque village. There are two monasteries, a nat (spirit) shrine and a shrine which tells the story of Indawgyi Lake. The story is that there was a village right below the current Lwemun before Indawgyi Lake appeared. A widow had dreamt that the area would be filled with water soon and so she left the village for the hill with some animals. The other villagers didn’t believe her, but then the village was flooded and the lake had appeared. One of the monasteries at the southern end of the village has a nat shrine for celebrating the widow’s dream. Her footprint seems to be there as well, but it can only be seen during the dry season.
The lakefront of the village on the southeast of Indawgyi Lake has a scenic beauty. Further to the east, there is a main north-south road and after a short walk or ride some lovely scenery of rolling fields can be seen.
Namde Village is most notable as the turn-off point to Shwe Myitzu Pagoda and there is a house for two elephants. The elephants (male and female) are kept in the second house south of the turn-off to Shwe Myitzu Pagoda.
Nammilaung Village is famous for its interesting architecture with high wooden fences around all the houses. Nammilaung also has a cane Buddha image, which was a collaborative effort by local people. On the fourth street south of the cane Buddha complex there is another house for elephants.
Indawgyi Environmental Education Centre
Indawgyi Environmental Education Centre was established by Inn Chit Thu and Fauna & Flora International with support from The Helmsley Charitable Trust and Hla Day. Indawgyi Lake occupied various natural, cultural, biodiversity, wildlife, and geological and archaeological heritages and those are internationally significant values for a UNESCO Global Geopark in Myanmar.
Bird watching: Indawgyi Lake is a major stop for migratory birds and attracts thousands of birds especially during winter months from December to March on the East Asia-Australian Flyway. During that period thousands of birds on the lake and flying in flocks over it are a wonder to behold.
Inn Chit Thu Ecotourism: is an organization based at the lake that is supported by Flora and Fauna International that provides a range of services, goods, and opportunities for visitors. They have been working at the lake since 2013.
Kayaking: Kayaks are available for hire at Inn Chit Thu and Indawgyi Motel. The lake is too wide to cover by kayak in a single day, but the southern half and the western shore, including Shwe Myitzu Pagoda, can conveniently be visited by kayak.
Cycling: Bicycles are available at Inn Chit Thu for hire and allows to explore the villages along the western and southern shores of the lake.
Trekking: Single-day treks are available for the mountains around the lake through Inn Chit Thu or Face of Indawgyi. Due to security reason trekking in the mountains on the west side of the lake is not allowed at the present.
Recreational fishing: Basic recreational fishing trips can also be done at Indawgyi Lake.
Boat tour: You can hire a boat and go around the lake at a reasonable price.
Festival: Every year during the ten days before the full moon in March people from all over Kachin state celebrate Shwe Myitzu Pagoda festival. During the festival, there are boat races, concerts and various recreation in the area. The water level is low and you can walk over dry land to the pagoda.
Souvenir: Kachin bags, tissue holders, and handmade jewelry at the ecotourism spot. A local weaver is situated about 30 minutes by boat from Lonton where homemade Kachin woven fabric is available.
Indawgyi Lake in Kachin State occupied international significance sites of landscape, biodiversity, biosphere, wetland ecology, geology and mineral deposits, archaeology, traditional culture, ecotourism and geotourism, those are the basic requirements and characteristics for Geopark. Therefore, Geopark Development Committee of Myanmar Geosciences Society congratulate and welcome magnificent Indawgyi Lake of beautiful Kachin State as Aspiring National Geopark as well as UNESCO Global Geopark and decided to collaborate with Forest Department, local authorities, Inn Chit Thu, Flora Fauna International and local people. Indawgyi Lake is more than a lake.