The small town of Kyaikmaraw (က်ိဳက္မေရာ), 15 miles southeast of Mawlamyine, is the site of Kyaikmaraw Paya, a temple of serene, white-faced buddhas built by Queen Shin Saw Pu in 1455. Among the temple’s many outstanding features are multicoloured glass windows set in the outside walls, an inner colonnade decorated in mirrored tiles, and beautiful ceramic tile floors.
Covered brick walkways lead up to and around the main square sanctuary in typical 15th-century Mon style. The huge main buddha image sits in a ‘European pose’, with the legs hanging down as if sitting on a chair, rather than in the much more common cross-legged manner. A number of smaller cross-legged buddhas surround the main image, and behind it are two reclining buddhas. Another impressive feature is the carved and painted wooden ceiling.
Perhaps as impressive as the temple is the route there, which passes through bright-green rice fields studded with sugar palms and picturesque villages.