The 2478 stupas at Kakku are one of the most remarkable sights in Shan State. Arranged in neat rows sprawling over the hillside, local legend has it that the stupa garden was founded by the Buddhist missionaries of the Indian emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. As such, the stupas span a bewildering variety of styles, marking the prevailing architectural trends when they were constructed. Some are simple and unadorned while others are covered in a riot of stucco deities and mythical beasts. Among the tall Shan-style stupas are a number of small square ‘monastery style’ stupas that are unique to this region. Like most ancient sites across the country, Kakku has been extensively restored using donations from pilgrims, so don’t expect an Indiana Jones–style ruin in the jungle.