Kakku Pagodas near Inle Lake

The Kakku Pagodas Complex is a Buddhist religious site in Myanmar featuring around 2,500 stupa tightly grouped together in a square.

Kakku Pagodas near Inle Lake
Kakku Pagodas near Inle Lake

The stupa at the Kakku Pagoda Complex vary in size, style and extent to which they have been preserved. Despite being a unique and interesting attraction, the site itself attracts relatively few visitors because of its remote location, to which there are currently no public transport links. For travellers visiting Inle Lake with a little bit of initiative it is easy enough to visit the Kakku Pagodas on a day trip and return in the evening to stay at hotel near the lake or Shwe Nyaung town where the railway station for Inle Lake is located.

About the Kakku Pagodas

The stupa at the Kakku Pagodas were constructed at different times over a period most likely starting in the 12th Century and ending in the 18th Century. There are different theories relating to the history of the Kakku Pagodas. One theory is that the Kakku Pagodas Complex was creating as part of a wider movement in the 3rd century, lead by the Indian Emperor Ashoka, which constructed a large number of religious monuments across South and South East Asia seeking to spread the Buddhist faith across the region. The other theory is that the first stupa were constructed by King Alaungsithu, who was ruler of the Bagan Empire during the 12th Century. Either way, the majority of the stupas were constructed much later during the 17th and 18th Centuries and these newer structures sit along side the much older stupa identifiable both by the difference in architectural styles and the signs of ageing on the stone used to construct each stupa.

There are thousands of stupas at Kakku Pagoda Complex
There are thousands of stupa at  the Kakku Pagoda Complex

The largest of the stupa, some 40 metres tall, is located at the centre of the site. A minority of the stupa feature a distinctive umbrella shaped metal ornament on top of their spire. These metal features, unique to Myanmar, are called a ‘hti’. Many of stupa, particularly the stupa built in the 17th and 18th Centuries, at the Kakku Pagoda Complex also feature figures and reliefs carved in the base of the structure, and some stil retain the colourful paint work which is believed at some point in time to featured on all the stupa. The Kakku Pagoda Complex is a fascinating labyrinth like collection of religious buildings, each with their own story, their own style, and each intended to have its own unique symbolic meaning.

Location of the Kakku Pagodas

  • The Kakku Pagodas are located 46 km by road to the east of Inle Lake.

Travel to the Kakku Pagodas

The Kakku Pagodas are located in the hills overlooking a valley in an area traditionally inhabited by the Pa-Oh people, who are related to the better known Karen ethnic group. Organised tours picking up passengers from resorts near Inle Lake take about 3 hours to travel along some fairly bad roads to reach the Kakku Pagodas. If you are travelling independently, and seeking value better value for money, then your best option is to travel to Taungyi near Inle Lake and hire a guide their (only $5 USD and a guide is compulsory) and at the same time a arrange car to take you to the Kakku Pagodas, which is 45 km to the south of Taungyi Town on a slightly better road from the one from Inle Lake. Follow the links below for information about travel to the Inle Lake region to reach the Kakku Pagodas:

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