Inside a natural cave in Pindaya, Myanmar, thousands of golden Buddhas line the rocky shelfs and stalagmite altars attracting the faithful who are brave enough to get past the giant spider statue on the way up.
Containing over 8,000 depictions of the Buddha dating back as far as 1750, the Pindaya Cave is a constantly growing gallery of peaceful statuary. Among the immense collection are representations of the holy figure in almost every one of his traditional poses, including a few unique depictions, such as the Buddha with a single seed in his upturned palm which may be evidence that the cave was once used by a small Buddhist cult. The cave extends almost 500 feet into the hillside and is actually just one of three caves in the area, although the other two caves are not open to visitors and are believed to be quite shallow.
Before reaching the cave however visitors must pass through the Shwe U Min Pagoda, the entrance to which is guarded by a large spider statue. The massive bug is actually in reference to a local legend that gives the cave its name. The story goes that seven princesses were forced to take refuge in the cave, but were sealed in by a giant spider’s web. They were eventually saved by a prince who killed the spider, and shouted, “Pinku Ya-Pyi!” meaning, “I’ve got the spider!” This would be truncated and elided over the centuries to “Pindaya.” Now every worshipper has a chance to see the spider for themselves.
Cartoonish spider monsters and peaceful golden Buddhas might not seem to be much of a match, but Pindaya Cave brings them together nicely.