Magnificent Indawgyi Lake aspiring to be inscribed as Geopark

 

(From previous article covered on 9 May)
The gold bearing gravel beds are observed in the western part of Indawgyi Lake and around Maing Naung Village. Since 1987 local people are exploiting gold and platinum surrounding area of Maing Naung and Nam Yin Hka stream (Htun Win, 1991),

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Natural causeway to the Pagoda on the island in the middle of the lake. PHOTO: Htay Aung

Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary
Asian Heritage Park
Forest Department established Wildlife Sanctuary 5 forest areas surrounding the biggest freshwater inland lake, Indawgyi Lake in 2004. Asian Heritage Park in 2003, Indawgyi Ramsar Site in 2003, Indawgyi Biosphere Reserve in 2017 with the following objectives:-
• To protect one of the largest freshwater inland lake.
• To protect water fowls, forest birds and migratory birds.
• To conserve rare animals.
• To carry out research works.
• To develop nature-base tourism or geotourism.
• To develop well-being of the local people.
The wetlands of Indawgyi are globally important for conservation: the lake its 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 (FFI)
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 coloured Leopards searching for prey (FFI).
Indawgyi Worldlife Scactuary 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.
On the other hand Indawgyi Lake is threatened by over-fishing and pollution at the moment. Illegal logging and firewood extraction is degrading surrounding forests. Everyone need to collaborate with each other for conservation of invaluable nature and environment of Indawgyi lake for our young generation to come (FFI).

Geotourism Vs Ecotourism
Geotourism adds to ecotourism’s principal focus on plants (flora) and animals (fauna) by adding a third dimension of the abiotic environment. Thus it is growing around the world through the growth of geoparks as well as independently in many natural and urban areas where tourism’s focus in on the geological environment. Most of the world defines geotourism as purely the study of geological and geomorphological features.
“Looking at the environment in a simplistic manner, we see that it is made up of Abiotic, Biotic and Cultural (ABC) attributes. Starting with the ‘C’ or cultural component first, we note that of three features it is this one which is generally the most known and interpreted, that is, through information about the built or cultural environment either in the past (historical accounts) or present (community customs and culture). The ‘B’ or biotic features of fauna (animals) and flora (plants) has seen a large focus of interpretation and understanding through ecotourism. But it is the first attribute of the ‘A’ or abiotic features including rocks, landforms and processes that has received the least attention in tourism, and consequently is the least known and understood. This then is the real power of geotourism, in that it puts the tourist spotlight firmly on geology, and brings it to the forefront of our understanding through tourism”.

Accommodations
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 fairly basic facility with simple rooms and a shared bathroom, There are also homestay system and a military-owned guest house in Lonton.

Geosites in Indawgyi Aspiring Geopark
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 end of February and earlyMarch. It is end of dry season and water level is low enough to walk along the wooden trail from mainland to the Pagoda in the lake.

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A survey indicated that Indawgyi lake is home to 41 species of more than 17,000 Asian Water birds. 
PHOTO: Htay Aung

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 hill top and some local generous people will offer you refreshment on the way.

Lwemun Village
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 was 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 been 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.

Hepa Village
The lake front 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
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
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 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 an 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 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 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 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 jewellery at the ecotourism spot. A local weaver is situated about 30 minutes by boat from Lonton where homemade Kachin woven fabric are 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.

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