Buddha statue at Ta Moke Shwe Gu Gyi Pagoda.

© Mongkolchon Akesin/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ta Moke Shwe Gu Gyi

Myanmar (Burma)

Located northwest of Kyaukse, this enormous temple complex, once buried underground, but since excavated, is a fascinating historic site, but its remoteness and lack of English signage make a visit challenging. Still, even without interpretive help it's an interesting spot, anchored by a two-storey temple marked by sturdy brickwork and magnificent stucco reliefs. Some of the latter include scenes from the life of the Buddha, as well as depictions of animals, plants and mythological beings.

Be on the lookout for an 'encased' buddha consisting of three buddha statues built into each other, like stacking Russian dolls.

Kyaukse is about 24 miles south of Mandalay proper. The temple is west of Kyaukse, off the road that connects Rte 1 to the Yangon–Mandalay expressway. Note that there is no reliable public transport to the temple itself.

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