The capital of Shan, Taunggyi sits on a plateau surrounded by sheer cliffs, crags, and high ridges. It was founded by the British in 1894 when the former administrative offices at Fort Stedman, on Inle Lake’s eastern shore, were moved to this more elevated spot 4,712 ft (1,436 m) above sea level to take advan- tage of its cooler climate, widely regarded as the most pleasant in Myanmar. Taunggyi is today the fifth largest urban area in the country and has the feel of a big city. PaO and Intha people account for the majority of its inhabitants, although there has been a deluge of illegal immi- grants from southwest China in recent years, many of them importing cheap manufactured goods overland from Yunnan. This merchandise can be seen at Myoma Market, in the center of town, which is Shan State’s largest bazaar and a great place to experience local life.
Although few visitors choose to stay in the city, a couple of monuments warrant detours. Crowning a ridge to the east, the Shwe Phone Pwint Pagoda affords a fine panoramic view of Taunggyi. Just off National Highway 4 on the city’s south- east edge, the Sulamani Pagoda is a huge white struc- ture surmounted by a gilded corncob stupa inspired by the design of the stately Ananda Temple in Bagan; the Sulamani Pagoda was built in 1994 to commem orate the centenary of Taunggyi’s founding.