|NASA satellite photo of Inle Lake, Burma|
The lake itself is medium sized and freshwater. It's not particularly deep. Most places the lake floor is no deeper than a foot or two beyond the height of the tallest men. However, in some areas the lake can be twice as deep as that. One large patch in the southeastern part of the lake is about this deep. Areas in the northwestern part of the lake, where its watershed feeds into it, tend to be shallower. These depths are for the summer evaporation which can lower the water's elevation by as much as five feet before temperatures cool at the beginning of September. At the end of spring, when runoff is highest, all points in the lake are at least five feet deeper (12-17 feet depth). Islands dot the lake. The lake dra"lake drains from two rivers on its southern shore. One of these runs eastward, and forms the boundary between areas considered part of the Hadria/Menas' coastal cities and the eastern steppes. The other, larger river runs south towards Aden, where it meets the ocean in the Gulf of Aden.
|On Inle, crops are grown directly on the lake |
IMG_1568, (c) 2011 Ken Marshall
On the lake's eastern shore, about 2/3 the way northwards up the lake, lay the Tather Caverns. The Caverns are accessible only via an underwater tunnel for most of the year. Only during height of summer are the caves accessible due to seasonal evaporation. Even then, most entering the caves must wade through water that's chest-deep. There's a small shrine/temple to [insert deity here] located here. This works as a shrine to a good or an evil deity. If a shrine to a benevolent god, it would be cool if there were people who live in the shrine year-round and who can only access the rest of the world during the month the caves are dry. This is also the month of the major religious festival, when the blessed shrine dwellers return to the population at large. Additionally, some roles in the region's society (definitely priests, probably some other civil leaders) must spend apprenticeships of at least one year in the shrine purifying themselves before they can be vested with their roles.
|Canal in the Inle Lake Area, (c) 2011 Exotissimo Travel|
People of Lake Inle
Those who live on Lake Inle's shores are known as the Intha. The Intha are known as living in harmony with nature. They claim a greater share of Andaran blood than most humans, and for that reason are left in peace by the Hardan dwarves, who see them as a symbol of the blessing of [insert deity's name here] on the area.
Unfortunately, Menas civil war affects the Menas of Inle Lake as well. There is a force loyal to Rodrick I nearby. Pinned in by Hardan forces all around, this group has retreated to the Inle Lake area, which they are able to hold due to the difficult passes that provide the only known means to reach the area. Unfortunately, the large military force and the Intha require more food than the lake can easily grow. The soldiers have requisitioned food from the locals, causing strife among them. It's a matter of time before hungry mouths among the locals spark violence, though it is anathema to the Intha's ways. The people are waiting now, but if the priests within the sunken shrine of [insert deity's name here] proclaim war upon the invading force when their surface access returns, a bloodbath could easily ensure.
|The Inthas' homes are built on stilts. Inle Lake Mynamar, (c) 2014 Clay Gilliland|
|Inle Lake 06, (c) 2008 Ben Belske|
The Intha live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo on stilts; they are largely self-sufficient farmers. Transportation on the lake is traditionally by small boats. Local fishermen are known for practicing a distinctive rowing style which involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. This unique style evolved for the reason that the lake is covered by reeds and floating plants making it difficult to see above them while sitting. Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men. Women row in the customary style, using the oar with their hands, sitting cross legged at the stern.
The io9 article notes "the tomatoes aren't literally floating, they're being supported by a vast network of water hyacinth roots that have grown together so tightly that they're capable of supporting another plant on top." What happens is that farmers gather up lake-bottom weeds from the deeper parts of the lake, bring them back in boats and make them into floating beds in their garden areas, anchored by bamboo poles. These gardens rise and fall with changes in the water level, and so are resistant to flooding. The constant availability of nutrient-laden water results in these gardens being incredibly fertile. Rice cultivation is also significant."
|Plants on the lake grow so thick that the surface appears to be ground rather than water. |
Inle Lake, Myanmar, (c) 2014, Ken Marshall
|Water hyacinths near tangling the gate to one of the floating|
gardens. Inlé Gate, (c)2014 ALWinDigital
The Maccarian temple is located on the western side of the lake, roughly two-thirds of the way towards the southern shore. Its pagoda houses five small gilded images of [insert deity here], which have been covered in gold leaf to the point that their original forms cannot be seen. The gold-leaf application to such excess is relatively recent. Older Inthan remember a time when the images were unadorned. There are rumors that some of gold has been removed on occasion. Whether this removal was for proper religious reasons or represents nefarious activity by the clergy is up to the GM. Maybe some local bad seeds have been removing gold while the pure-hearted clergy are holed up for eleven months out of the year.
The five statues are of differing sizes and range from about nine to eighteen inches tall. Made of gold, they are extremelly heavy. According to Inthan beliefs, the statues were placed in the temple by Inthan's mythic Andaran forebears during the time when the Andarans ruled over humans in the area, before their leader was slain by the first Nulkavii Emperor. Although the temple is open to all, only men are permitted to place gold leaf on the images. Such a sing of respect is believed to bring [insert name of deity here]'s blessing. However, only women are permitted to place a small robe or other article of clothing around the images. This article can be taken back to their houses and placed on their own altar to invoke [insert deity's name here] blessing on all that live within the home.
|Local market far away in the south of the Inle Lake (Myanmar) |
(c) 2009, Dieter Zirnig
|Buddha festival at Phaungdaw Oo Paya, (c) 2013 Zniper|
|During the festival, the statues travel the lake on barges|
built to look like mythical birds. Inle Lake Myanmar,
(c) 2014, Clay Gilliland
|The statues travel across the region, visiting|
towns as well as the four minor temples on
the lake. Inle Lake, (c) 2013 Christopher
Haunted Ruined Temple
|Abandoned Temples, (c) 2009, Ed Brambley|
|An artists' rendering of the haunted temple. Magical Myanmar,|
(c) 2013 Christopher Michel
Inle Lake Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inle_Lake
Hpaung Daw U Pagoda Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hpaung_Daw_U_Pagoda
Inle Lake Wikitravel