Elephant Trunk Hill & Lost Temples of Myanmar Jungle

he Elephant Trunk Hill (Chinese: 象鼻山; pinyin: Xiàngbí Shān) is a hill, landmark and tourist attraction inGuilin, Guangxi, China.

Elephant Trunk Hill is the symbol of the city of Guilin. It got its name because it looks like an elephant drinking water. The round opening that would be under the elephant’s trunk is known as Water-Moon Cave because at night the reflection of the moon can be seen through the arch and it looks as if it is under the water and floating on the surface of the water at the same time. Elephant Trunk Hill and Water-Moon Cave are located at the confluence of the Taohua River and the Lijiang River.


It’s a scene straight out of the Jungle Book, only accessible from the outside world by a narrow canal that weaves its way through a parting in the wild and tangled overgrowth, west of Myanmar’s Inle Lake…

Lead image (c) James Charlick


(c) PPana

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(c) J Charlick


(c) Artano




After an hour’s boat ride passing the bathing water buffalo and the local women washing their clothes, a small jetty welcomes visitors to the village of Indein. A few steps beyond is a colourful market where natives come down from their mountain villages to sell home-grown produce such as tofu, soy beans, fresh fish and vegetables.


(c) A Thompson

This corner of the Inle Lake down the narrow Inn Thein Creek has not gone untouched by the influence of foreign tourism, but there are hidden treasures to be discovered by taking less-worn tracks that veer off the main path towards the main temple, Shwe Indein Paya, at the top of the hill.


(c) Abella

While the pagodas surrounding the temple in this part of complex have been restored by Burmese donors in a bright gold and white stucco finish, there are hundreds of ancient undiscovered ones to be found in the area, unknown and mysterious even to many of the local people, deep in the thick of the jungle.


(c) A Thompson

Before veering off into the overgrowth in search of the crumbling temples, local vendors will try to tempt you back to their stalls with warning of deadly snakes. Of course there are no deadly snakes in the area, but rather hundreds of ancient ruins to stumble upon in the bush, in various states of decay, some with trees growing out of them, decorated with sculptings of celestial beings or mythological animals as Naga serpents, Chinthes and peacocks, not found on any of the more recent pagodas. Some enshrine images of the Buddha.

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