Farm Caves - Kayon & Saddan

The Farm Caves in the Moulmein area have been well known since colonial times and the main temple cave is frequently visited by locals. The caves are in Kayon hill. The temple cave is known as Farm Cave, and also Kayon (Payon), and was previously called Nyown-beng-zeite. Saddan Cave is a much bigger cave in the same hill. Farm Caves are almost certainly the same as Dhammathat Cave

Temple says Farm Caves are on the Ataran River, but in fact they are closer to the Gyiang.


Kayon Cave was drawn by Temple and published in the Indian Antiquary (Bombay) in 1893. On this survey, the cave is also called Parum, which doesn't seem to be commonly used.

Chhibber wrote about the caves in 1927.

The northernmost hill is called Kayon hill (marked Karon taung on the map). This hill is about a mile long and one-third broad and has been named after the village of Kayon, about one and a half miles north-west of the caves. The height of the hill is 589 feet.
There are two very important caves in the hill, both on the eastern side though I was told by the pongyi there that there is another big cave on the west called Ma-saw-ma-ku (ku in Burmese means cave) to the north of the second (southern) pagoda on the top of the hill. It was said that before the construction of road to Kayon-ku larger number of people went there but now on account of the easy accessibility of the former, all the visitors come this side. These caves are marked "Farm Caves" on the old map. The caves are frequented both by religious pilgrims and by sight seers. Many people from Moulmein and outside come there for short pic-nics, so much so that the pongyi there told me that about twenty thousand people visit the caves annually. The first cave, Kayon, is situated in almost the midd!e of the hill. There are three entrances, one from the north-east is called Ku-wa. The second entrance is from the east, the entrance of the cave being higher than the base of tha hill, steps have been built of laterite and the passage has been covered with the usual tapering gothic structure commonly seen in Burma. The third entrance is towards the south-east.
On the right of the northern entrance there is a small cave partitioned into three chambers (pl. xi), partly by the growth of pillars. Between the middle entrance and the northern there is a fairly big tunnel which after a distance of about 70 feet, makes a southward bend and continues in that direction till the third entrance is reached and on the right hand side there are two narrow but fairly long chambers. From the third entrance there is a long and straight hall, which is about 300 feet long.
At a distance of about 80 feet from the entrance to the main hall, there is a big side chamber on the left, which is about 200 feet long and about 40 feet wide. In this side chamber on the right there is a ladder about 9 feet high, which leads up to a narrow but long chamber; almost opposite to this there is another chamber on the left, constricted in the middle, the opening at the entrance measures about 30 feet and the length is about 87 feet.

Some of the earlier accounts of Farm Caves mention the cave fauna, especially bats. However there in no fauna in Kayon Cave. But the nearby Saddan Cave is home to a lot of bats and invertebrates. Chhibber 1927 wrote :


Sadaw cave.-The cave, as already remarked, is situated at the southern end of the same hill, Karon taung, marked on the map 941-3/10 The entrance to cave is narrow, about 8 feet wide, and is at a height of about 75 feet from the ground. This cave is far bigger than the first though no images are to be found inside. It is believed by the local people that when Buddha assumed the form of an elephant, he lived in this cave and hence its name Sadam which in Burmese means a royal elephant. On the right of the cave there is an open amphitheatre with a number of subsidiary chambers. Not far from the entrance there is a sloping chamber on the left with a big sky light about 15 feet high and 6 feet broad, with two minor holes adjacent to it. This cave is in fact a big hall, several hundred feet long and in places about 150 feet wide and appears to have been subdivided into three chambers by the
growth of pillars. These pillars in this cave are of very fantastic shapes and gigantic in size, the circumference of some measuring as
much as about 100 feet. The most remarkable of these are the umbrella- shaped stalagmites which can accommodate a number of men inside the hollow. The floor of the cave is strewn with boulders fallen from above, some of which look like small hillocks. In places especially in the narrow side chamber towards the right, not far from the entrance, near the first big pillar, terraces have been cut of the rock, which form small reservoirs of water tricled down from the roof. The water in these terraces and other small tanks is very cool and fresh In the dark part of the cave bats are very abundant, the odour of their excreta causing a prolonged stay to be most unpleasant. The excreta can be used as manure and should be no lrss useful than guano. The subject has been discussed by Burkill in a pamphlet issued as No. 1 in the Agricultural Ledger (Calcutta) for 1911. But it is wondered whether the deposit which is more than an inch thick in places has ever been used for that purpose. In places the floor of the cave, on account of solution along the joints shows the appearance of a sun-cracked surface, especially near the small pools of water. Where the cave terminates it rises by narrow passages which communicate with the ssvallow holes above, not far below the top of the hill.

Chhibber said there are no statues in the cave, but now there are. There is only one Buddha actually inside the main chamber, but the entrance series is lined with Buddas. There is also some graffii on the walls, the oldest we saw was from the 1880s.

The survey on the right was drawn by Dunkley from Chhibber's survey.

See photos of Farm Cave and Saddan Cave on my blog.

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