The Last Capital City of Rakhine Dynasty: Mrauk U (Mrauk-Oo)

Mrauk U, the last capital city of Rakhine dynasty. It has attained its highest prosperity 48 kings for 335 long years, stand at 20.25' N Latitude and 093.11'E Longitude. It was founded by the King Mong Saw Mon in 1430 AD. The city being well fortified with 19 miles long fortification walls, Moats and natural barriers since its first establishment.The old city is just 40 Miles away by river from Sittway (Akyab).

Mrauk U is an ornament of the Rakhine culture. Its name suggests the fulfillment of endeavours. Between 1430 AD and 1784 AD it was the last captial of the powerful Rakhine kings where Rakhine culture had its full bloom. Before Mrauk U, several other former royal cities, Dhanyawaddy, Vesali, Sambwet, Pyinsa, Parein, Launggret, Khrit and Nayyinzaya- taungngu had flourished from generation to generation for many years. Geographically, Mrauk U lies at the head of a tributary, Kaladan(Gissapanadi) River; about 45 miles from the west coast, but the largest sea-going ships of that period could reach it through a network of deep creeks by which it was surrounded.The position of Mrauk U in the Bay of Bengal, with both land and sea routes to the east and west, resulted in the development of its commercial and cultural center which later emerged as a highly flourishing country because of its strategic location between India and South East Asia.

The golden days of Mrauk U city, those of 16th and 17th centuries, were contemporary to the days of Tudor kings, the Moghuls, the Ayuthiya kings and Ava (Inwa), Taungoo and Hanthawaddy kings of Myanmar. Mrauk U was cosmopolitan city, fortified by a 30-kilometer long fortification and an intricate net of moats and canals. At the centre of the city was the Royal Place, looming high over the surrounding area like an Asian Acropolis. Waterways formed by canals and creeks earned the fame of distinct resemblance to Venice. Mrauk U offers some of the richest archaeological sites in South-East Asia. While Bagan is considered as the city of pagodas. It is yet another site in Myanmar with old temples and pagodas, but built in styles different from those of Bagan.The last stronghold of Mrauk U kings could be truely considered as the fortress city in Myanmar. " In durability, architectural skill and ornamentation, Mrauk U temples far surpass those on the banks of Irrawaddy " remarked Dr.Forchhammer, a renowned archeologist, in his book entitled "Arakan". Mrauk U is a historical site where visitors can also witness edifices, sculptures, moats, citywalls, fortresses, reservoirs, city gates etc., still standing in various parts of the city as a mute evidence to the glory of an erstwhile Rakhine Kingdom. Mrauk U, a fine last royal capital of Rakhine has scenic beauty and historical remains, which are inextricable and remarkable. Innumerable pagodas belonging to all ages can be found throughout the city. Everywhere one looks within Mrauk U city wall on every mound, every field and every hill are Buddha images, temples, Sima and pagodas.The city offers the visitor many chances to study the cultural and traditional heritage handed down to the present day Rakhine generation by their forefathers. Mrauk U can rightfully be claimed as the "Open-air Museum" of the arts and culture of the people of Rakhine.Once, more than six million shrines and pagodas flourished and there is rarely a hilltop that does not adorn itself with one pagoda or another.

After the annexation of Arakan (Rakhine) by the British, the capital was shifted to Sittwe (Akyab): since that time Mrauk-U was known by the people as Mrohaung (Old City). The name Mrohaung was given by the British when they shifted their seat of administration to Sittwe in 1826. The original name was restored in 1979. The city is just 40 miles away by river from Sittwe and the trip takes 3 to 4 hours. There are daily flights to Sittwe from Yangon which take 2 hours via Thandwe and 1 hour directly. The boat departs from a jetty in the Sattroegya, a tributary creek of the Kaladan(Gissapanadi) river and on the way there are many places of interest to be seen along the river.The gateway to Mrauk-U is Thantara village from where the undulating hills of the city with white temples and pagodas on their tops appear within sight. The Thinghanadi creek is the city's life-blood and the boat journey ends at Aungdatt wharf.

The stone pagodas were built three and four centuries ago and many have been totally neglected for the last 150 years: the sides of the stone blocks fit compactly and are joined with cement thus resisting the absorption of ficus which are capable of reducing a brick pagoda into a shapeless heap of bricks in a few years.The pagodas and temples built or renovated during the Myanmar governor’s rule (after the fall of Mrauk-U 1785-1825) followed the tradition of the Kunhaung architecture, with smaller pagodas built at the corners of the lower basement of a pagoda; bricks were usually used in making the receding arches. U Mra Wa and Shwegu Daung pagodas are the two examples that still survive. Gold and silver coins serve as the priceless heritage of the Mrauk-U period. The tradition of coin-making was handed down from the Vesali kings who started minting coins around the fifth century. The coins so far found are of one denomination only. Inscribed on the coins are the title of the ruling king and his year of coronation; coins before 1638 had Rakhine inscriptions on one side and Persian and Nagari inscriptions on the other. The inclusion of the foreign inscriptions was meant for the easy acceptance by the neighbouring countries and the Arab traders. Twenty-three types of silver coins and three types of gold coins have so far been found. All the kings who ascended the throne issued coins. City walls, gates, settlements, monastery sites, fortresses, garrisons and moats are the other priceless heritages left to the safe keeping of today's Rakhine people. Stone rubbles of proud mansions of that period are also priceless reminders of Rakhine glory.

It is no wonder that Mrauk U is properly known as the "Land of Pagodas" and Europeans remarked Mrauk U as "The Golden City". The Rakhine of those days were proud of Mrauk U. They were entirely satisfied to be the inhabitants of Mrauk U. The history shows what happened in the city in early times.

The Shitthaung Pagoda

About half a mile north of the palace site is the Shitthaung Pagoda or the Shrine of 80,000 images. It stands on a promontory half way up to the west side of a hillock named Phokhaung Taung. The donor of the Shitthaung was Minbargyi, the most powerful king of the MraukU Dynasty. According to the stone script inscription he was also called as Minbin and reigned Rakhine from 1531 to 1553 A.D. The King built this remarkable Pagoda in 1535 A.D after the successful defense against the Portuguese attack on the City of Mrauk-U.

One thousand architects and workmen had built the pagoda for a year. The skill and art displayed in its construction and ornamentation are remarkable. 'Besides, we may observe here about the maze-like layout of this pagoda. In the accounts of this curious plan, some foreigners remarked that the Shitthaung Pagoda was built alike a fortress. The real purpose of the pagoda was for prayer, some rituals of initiation, and some of the King's ceremonies, which were usually held secretly.

It was constructed six feet thick of solid sandstone and like "rock cave tunnel". No mortar was used in the construction and stones were connected with stone brackets. The first platform appears to contain two small pagodas all built of sandstone. They were said by tradition to have been built by the donor of the Shitthaung Pagoda, King Minbin. They were called Nay Htwet Para (Sun Arise Pagoda) and Nay Win Para (Sun Set Pagoda). Nay-Htwet Para is octagonal; the sides are concave and the entrance faces the east. Another small pagoda is Nay Win Para, a stupa shape with a circular base. The King Minbin built these pagodas to show his dominion and autocracy.

The inner temple court east of the main shrine is occupied by a wooden prayer-hall which houses innumerable Buddha images. Before entering the main hall is a stone pillar with inscriptions in Rakhine characters. According to the inscription, the pillar was engraved by order of King Minrazargyi in 1593 A.D. In the upper pillar there is a sculpture of the King and his four ministers. Close to the inscribed pillar lies an image of King Minbin, the donor of this Shitthaung Pagoda. Opposite the entrance is a main image of Buddha, seated on a throne with /bumiphasa mudra/. The image is 9 feet in height. The central pagoda measures 160 feet long, 124 feet broad, and 86 feet high. On the north and south walls stand at regular intervals circular, turret-like pagodas. There are one bigger and fourteen smaller ones on the north and a bigger one and seventeen smaller ones on the south and were built of brick; between each turret a stone slab is erected into the wall. Both sides of the slab contain sculptures in bold relief; the side facing the inner temple usually represents an image of Buddha, the outer side an ogre, naga or mythical birds or beasts. One depicts a cobra with spreading hood holding a lotus flower in its mouth. The shrine itself has a gallery all-round the structure and a dark passage, which leads to the inner chambers. The outer wall contains at regular intervals arched passages; each holds two sitting life-size images of Buddha; they are placed back to back. The inner wall consists of well-hewn blocks of stone cut over its whole length (312') into six tiers of figures. The corner was placed with large four central figures, such as King Brahmans of SE corner, Thagra-min surrounded by his four queens of NE corner, Satu- Lokapala of NW corner, the donor, King Minbin surrounded by ministers and queens of SW corner. The lowest belt of the pagoda represents men in native (Rakhine) costume, manner and tradition, in the manners of wrestling, boxing, dancing, playing, and general merry-making. The first, second, third, fourth, and fifth belts depict the 550 earlier lives of Buddha. There are over a thousand sculptures.

The topmost girdle shows human figures, male and female in praying attitude. From these inscribed sculptures one can learn something about old Rakhine musical instruments and traditional dances. Along the gallery, each corner and each side was provided with both female and male figures of Vasundhra. Therefore, Shitthaung was also regarded as a sima (ordination hall). Along the other two inner galleries are deposited hundreds of Buddha images of varying sizes. A sculpted Buddha's foot-print is placed in the last passage. It is plain; there are no figure-prints on the sole of an upturned foot.

An Evidence of Early Buddhism in the Shitthaung Pagoda.

The Shitthaung Pillar : The pillar is very well known and is situated at the entrance of the Shitthaung Pagoda. It is said to have been brought from Vesali to Mrauk-U, and placed at this site by King Minbin, in 1535 A.D who reigned over Rakhine from 1513 to 1553 A.D. It had fallen during the bombardment in the Second World War and has been re-erected in a cage near the same entrance. The pillar is square, rising to a height of 10 feet; each side is 2' 4" broad. Three sides are covered with inscriptions in Sanskrit; the inscription on the north side is also badly damaged; the western face inscription is best preserved. The south side has not been inscribed. Dr. Johnston was the first to read the western face inscription fully. It was dated on paleographic grounds as the beginning of the 8th century A.D. His readings reveal a list of kings who ruled in ancient Rakhine. Although the eastern side of pillar is now completely illegible it can be dated between 3rd century and 6th century A.D. It is considered to be the inscription of early Rakhine kingdoms, mostly Dhanyawaddy.

Stone pillar of the Shithaung Pagoda. There is an octagonal red sandstone column, 8' 10" high above the ground. The circumference around the base measures 72" (9" to each side); towards the apex there is a band decoration consisting of an enclosed row of dots and a double lotus petal motif, with a major petal at each of the eight corners.

Stone slab. Close to the pillar lies a large stone slab, 12' long, 4' 2" broad and 10-12" thick. At the lower end, depicted in relief, is a wavy line suggestive of water, from which rises a right-vaulted winged conch shell with a lotus growing from the aperture, the tip of the petals touching the outer edge of an ornately carved wheel symbolizing dhammacakka , (the Wheel of the Law) its outer rim enclosing a circle of dots, and the inner rim comprising a double lotus petal motif.The design appears to be emblematic of Brahmanism (the conch), which produced Buddhism (the lotus flower), the dhammacakka. On the other hand, the design suggests the fertility and prosperity (lotus), which arises from the waters (wave and conch) when the Cakravartin , Monarch (wheel) holds sway. The motif constantly appears in -ancient Rakhine's art. At the upper end of the wheel is a square hole sunk into the stone, 5" deep, 2' 4" long, and 2' 8" broad; next follows a circular, cup-like hole, 4" deep and 6" across the opening; the reverse of the stone is only a rough-hewn surface. As the sides of the inscribed pillar also measure 2'4", Dr.Forchhammer suggested that the stone slab, which must have been from 18-20' long, but is broken off above the cup-like hollow, was originally a lintel or architrave, the square hole capped the inscribed pillar forming the left-hand post of the entrance gate; the circular hollow received the revolving axis of a swinging door; that portion of the lintel which exhibits the dhammacakka, the lotus and conch, protruded over the north-side of the inscribed pillar to counterbalance the weight of the opposite part of the slab (now broken) which formed the actual lintel over the entrance, the octagonal pillar constituted the right-hand post of the entrance. The construction of the gate forcibly calls to mind the "turning of the Wheel of the Law", the essential function of the Buddhist Cakravartin King, to whom was given the power to regulate the celestial and terrestrial forces in order to control the coming of the rains which would ensure the continuing prosperity of the Kingdom. Hence, the Cakra of the lintel was depicted as merging into pillar, on which, as we shall see, the continuity of the dhamma of the Rakhine Cakravartin Kings was recorded. The form of the pillar on the opposite side is also not without significance. In common with other pillars associated with Cakravartin Kingship, it is eight-sided, symbolizing the eight directions of the macrocosmic country and the macrocosmic universe (see. "Asokan" pillars). The decoration around the upper portion is identical with that of the dakkra on the lintel, the lotus petal in each corner suggesting that the effect of the royal dhamma was to be felt in each of the eight corners. Its significance was still remembered in the 16th century, when King Minbin had it erected and built at his remarkable royal shrine, the Shitthaung Pagoda. But all were ruined during the Second World War.

The Andaw Shrine

The Andaw Shrine, in which is enshrined a tooth-relic of Buddha, stands at a distance of 86 feet to the northeast of the Shitthaung Pagoda. Min Hla Raza originally built this shrine in 1521 A.D. The King of Mrauk-U, Minrazagyi, rebuilt it in 1596 A.D. The central tower of the shrine contains the tooth-relic of Buddha, which is said to have been obtained from Sri Lanka by King Minbin (1534 - 1542 AD). The shrine is an octagonal structure of pure sandstone, with two internal concentric passages. Fifteen small circular pagodas, built of bricks stand on the platforms of south, north and west of the shrine. On the east, there is a prayer hall, which has an entrance each on the east, north, and south sides; a stonewall divides it from the outer court. The east facade of the shrine measures 31 feet from north to south and is only 14 feet high from the ground to the roof. On each side of the entrance are three niches which get into the wall, 6' high, 1' 2" deep, and 2' wide, and these contain stone images of Buddha. Passing through the vaulted passage a gallery opens on either side. Each is 3' 7" wide and 9' high.

The gallery runs in an octagonal shape around the central chamber; each of the outer sides of the passage measures 20' and each contains a row of four niches with a semicircular arch 2' above the ground, and a second row of smaller niches at the height of 7, four to each side, and the niches hold stone images of Buddha. From the inner side of the gallery a vaulted passage leads from north, south, east, and west to the inner chamber, which is also octagonal in shape. At the center stands an eight-cornered stone pillar 40' in circumference. It supports the roof. Neither light nor air can 'penetrate into the shrine except through the front entrance. The roof is about ten feet thick. Over each of the eight corners of the shrine stands a smaller pagoda. At the center, there stands a large pagoda. Andaw Shrine constructed throughout with stone blocks, stands on a small square-shaped hillock. The hillock, including shrine and pagoda, measures 228 feet from east to west and 145 feet from north to south and 42 feet in height from ground to top.

The Ratanabon Pagoda

The pagoda was built by Minkhamaung and his chief queen Shin Htway in BE. 974 (A.D1612). The main edifice is circular at the base, measures 365 in circumference, and is constructed of huge blocks of sandstone; it rises in a number of concentric tiers, of which the upper portion recedes from the one lying beneath it, to a height of about 200 feet. The uppermost portion has fallen down. During the Second World War, a bomb hit the Ratanabon Pagoda, and a half of the main structure was damaged. There are no entrances, niches, arches, nor ornamentation of any kind, not even an image could be found. At a distance of eight feet from the central stupa rises a brick wall 4' high and 2' thick, which encompasses the pagoda in circle; then follows a row of 24 small circular pagodas built of brick. They are now all in ruin. This pagoda resembles a huge bell. The whole structure is enclosed by an octagonal wall 8-10' thick, with an entrance at the south. A lion made of sandstone protects each of the four corners of the outer pagoda walls.

The temple court is in ruin. The building is impressive by its massiveness.. Its architecture pattern resembles an ordinary pagoda, like Sanchi in India. But the bareness of decorative designs and the absence of structural ornamentations characterizes it as peculiarly Rakhine. Traditionally it is believed that the pagoda was built for the purpose of acquiring or securing treasures, both mundane and spiritual. (Ratana means "treasure", "bon" means to gather, to accumulate.)

The Dukkhanthein Pagoda

The temple stands on a hill, 30 feet high, having a flat surface like that of a drum. King Minphalaung built the pagoda in 1571 A.D. Like the Shitthaung and the Andaw shrines, Dukkhanthein was built of hewn sandstones and layers of bricks over the roof. It measures 190 feet from north to south and 200 feet from east to west. It is reached by stone stairways, 8' broad, situated on the east and south. These stairways measuring 106 feet are built of massive stonewalls on the north, east and south. The west one which is slightly convex is connected to an oblong chamber.

The pagoda entrance on the east side, closer to the south-east corner, leads to a long vaulted passage which spirals up in two tiers till it reaches the central chamber. The superstructure, a bell-shaped dome on receding terraces, is similar to the one on Shitthaung, but here a tall square arch is provided on the east side to admit light into the central chamber. The inner chambers and passages of the temple are constructed with well fitting and cemented stones. The pagoda is well-known for the stone sculptures in the vaulted passages, especially the figures of seated ladies, with different styles of coiffure, in the manner of offering lotus buds to the Buddha. Traditionally it is said that there are sixty-four kinds of hairstyle and all the figures are of the wives of noblemen. Besides, on both sides of the entire passage, niches of 1½ feet broad, 1 foot deep, and 2 feet high are dug at regular intervals of 20 feet in the wall and each contains a stone image of the Buddha in sitting posture. There are one hundred and forty-six niches along the passage.

The Laymyetnha Pagoda

About a distance of 150 feet to the northwest of the Dukkhanthein Pagoda is the Laymyetnha Pagoda or "the fourfacaded pagoda". King Minsawmon, the first king of Mrauk-U Dynasty, built it in 1430 A.D. It is one of the five pagodas built at the beginning of the establishment of the city. It is a square structure, with a long protruding portal towards each cardinal point. The interior room is octagonal. In the center of the latter there is an octahedral column intended to support the circular tower erected over the center of the roof. Over each of the four corners of the terrace a smaller circular stupa was built. Each side of the square of the shrine measures 55'; the portals are 13' broad and protrude 17' into the platform. The central tower is circular and has the shape of a dome, with a circumference of 80 feet at the base and is 70 feet high.

The Myatanzaung Pagodas

To the north of Laymyetnha Pagoda at a distance of 500 feet are Myatanzaung Pagodas. There are two pagodas named Eastern Myatanzaung and Western Myatanzaung. These pagodas are situated on a hillock, 40 feet high. The main structures of these pagodas are constructed of blocks of pure sandstone. But turrets, staircases and walls were built of bricks. Minsawmon, the King of Mrauk-U Dynasty, erected these pagodas in 1430 A.D. These two are of the same type, measuring 120 feet in circumference, and 50 feet high.

The Mokseik taw Pagoda

To the north of Myatanzaung and at a distance of 300 feet is the Mokseik taw Pagoda. It stands on a hillock, which rises to 100 feet. King Minsawmon erected the pagoda in 1430 A.D. According to the chronicles, Mokseiktaw is also one of the five-city settlement pagodas in the new city of Mrauk-U. There are two terraces on this hillock. A Pitakataik (Library) is situated on the lower terrace. The library is built of pure sandstone. Most of the monasteries and pagodas of Mrauk-U especially the large teaching monasteries and the pagodas donated by the kings usually had a library attached to them. The height of the main pagoda is 50 feet above ground and 100 feet in circumference at the base. The central pagoda is circular and has a bell shape. A small turret stands on each of the four corners. On the eastern side of the pagoda there is an image of a footprint of the Buddha, 34 inches long, on a large stone. The footprint is plain and the sole of footprint shows neither marks nor any lineaments by which chiromancy could interpret.

The Laungbanpyauk Pagoda

The Laungbanpyauk Pagoda stands at a distance of 500 feet to the Mokseiktaw.Minkhaungraza built the pagoda in 1525 A.D. Two walls surround it. The outer surface of the inner wall is decorated with fine designs and is formed by stones projecting an inch out of the wall; at the center of each is a rosette, containing eight colored clay tablets of red, yellow, blue, and green alternately, with a white center. The diameter of the ornament is 1' 8". An opening in the east and one from the west lead to a platform raised about 6 feet above the level of surrounding ground. The massive stone pagoda at the center is an octagonal pyramid; each side measures at the base 33 feet and rises in ever-receding tiers to a height of about 120 feet (at present only 75 feet remains.). On the first tier, at the middle of each of the eight sides, originally-stood a porch consisting of two square pillars forming the sides of the porch. Each niche contains an image of the Buddha. The outer surface of the appendage displays an exquisite pattern of carving in stone. The design is so fine and outstanding that well-known architects have recorded it in detail.

The Htuparyon Pagoda

According to the local records, King Minranaung, the sixth king of MraukU Dynasty, erected Htuparyon in 1494 A.D. In the year of 1613 A.D the King Minkhamaung and his chief queen, Shin Htway rebuilt this pagoda. The pagoda is built of stone blocks and the base is octagonal. A wall surrounds the spacious temple court, which is in disrepair. Each of the four corners of the pagoda walls is guarded by the figure of a lion having two bodies and a head. The walls are thought to be the walls of a square sima or of the ordination hall for Buddhist monks. At present, the pagoda is in ruin, and neglected. But, in the golden days of Mrauk-U the Htuparyon Pagoda was a well known site for pilgrimage. Most of the kings in Mrauk-U Dynasty came to pay respects to this pagoda soon after their coronations. Traditionally, it was believed by the kings that the site was "The Land of Victory and Prosperity", and was very highly venerated.

The Tharapavata Pagoda

The pagoda stands on this hill. A wall surrounds the pagoda, 134 feet long and 84 feet broad. The pagoda is built of massive stones. It is about 21 feet high, 54 feet broad at each of the four-sides of the base. The first tier contains the sculptures of lions, elephants and deer. The ruins of sima are found on the east side of the pagoda. A small standing Buddha made of stone, 5 feet high, is found on the ruined square Lima. The platform is scattered here and there with the ruins of pagodas, images, damaged pedestals, pillars and many other pieces. A few years ago, a standing image was found unexpectedly on the platform of the pagoda. An inscription in Sanskrit was found on the pedestal of the image. The script was dated, on paleographic grounds, to be between 4th and 8th centuries, A.D.

The Pitakataik

About one hundred yards to the northeast of Htuparyon Pagoda is the Pitakataik or the Library. The King Minphalaung donated it in 1591 A.D. The building had been used as a depository for the Buddhist scriptures and it measures 14 feet from the east to west, and 10 feet from north to south and 9 feet high. It is built entirely of stone. This Pitakataik is also known as Shinkite Pitakataik, (Shinkile means mosquito-bite) and is one of the forty-eight libraries in Mrauk-U capital. The entrance is an arched passage, which opens on the east. According to the Rakhine history, the Buddhist scriptures, the thirty sets of Tipitaka, which Narapati~yi (1638-1645 A.D) had received from Sri Lanka were deposited in this library.

One other interesting thing is the city wall, which is situated at fifty feet to the north of Pitakataik. It is a brick wall about 4 feet high and 2 feet thick. It runs from southeast to northwest across the bottom of the valley between the base of the eastern and western hill ranges. A few feet to the north of this wall is the Panzemraung moat which runs parallel the wall. This site, the wall and the moat, had been used as the last defense during the times 'of wars and at one time was the camping-ground of Rakhine main army.

The Pyisoegyi Pagoda

About 200 yards to the north of Pitakataik is Shinkite-wall. Close to the north stands another city-wall named Tharikonboung. Beyond it is the Panzemraung, a moat that stretches in a bowline from the northwest of the town to the northeast. On the opposite side, it is lined by two ranges of the hills, leaving a flat valley half a mile broad, filled with water throughout the year.

Further east, along the ridge about a few hundred yards away is the Pyisoegyi Pagoda. An old Pitakataik stands near the pagoda. This Pitakataik is similar to the Shinkite Pitakataik. It is also decorated with fine sculptures. A Pyisoegyi donated the pagoda and the pitakataik. The Rakhine royal term Pyisoegyi is equivalent in rank to a prime minister of the present time. A few hundred yards towards the end of the eastern range is Minthamitaga (or) Princess Watergate. The Watergate was made of solid stone. It measures 9 feet high, 30 feet long and 10 feet broad. Close to the south side of Minthami gate was once a swimming pool in which, in former times, the princesses spent the evenings gaily in their gilded royal boats. The pool was also used as a moat. In wartime, if it was necessary, the water gate could be opened quickly and filled the dry moat of the Tharikonboung with water.

The Anoma Pagoda

The Anoma Pagoda stands at a distance of 100, yards to the south of Pitakataik. Princess Anowzaw, daughter of King Salingathu (1494-1501 A.D), built this pagoda in the lovely valley in 1501 A.D. Today, the pagoda is badly ruined. According to the records, the base and the first four tiers are octagonal; the next four are square and the topmost is circular. The circumference of the pagoda at the base measures 160 feet, and it is devoid of any ornamentation. Only a Buddhist image, made of stone, and 9 feet high, remains. It is seated on a pedestal, which is ornamented with numerous sculptures depicting scenes from the Jatakas (mostly animals figures), each scene for each Jataka. A few yards to the southwest of Anoma Pagoda stands the Shwekyathein Pagoda. This pagoda is built of sandstone. On its upper terrace there are some very fine ornamentations consisting of lotus flowers.

The Minpaung Pagoda

The Minpaung Pagoda is situated on a small ridge fifty feet to the south of Anoma Pagoda. It is also called Alaiseti (central pagoda). Minkhamaung and his chief queen Shin Htway built it in 1640 A.D. The pagoda is enclosed in walls decorated with figures of dragons. At present, the pagoda has a height of 40 feet and 290 feet in circumference at the base. A passage leading to the central chamber is vaulted and curved, 7 feet long and 6 feet wide.

The Mahabodhi Shwegu

It is, like the Ratanabdn Pagoda, bell-shaped and octagonal from the base to the top. Each side measures at the base 13½ feet, (106 feet in circumference) and rises in ever-receding tiers to a height of about 30 feet. It is constructed with blocks of sandstone. An arched passage opens towards the east. Along the walls of inner side of the passages are decorated with stone sculptures depicting the 550 Jatakas of Buddha's life. These sculptures are like the mirrors of Rakhine's culture. The chamber contains an image of Buddha made of stone 6 feet high. Numerous stone sculptures (figures) around the pedestal are modeled in pure Rahkhine style.

The Ratanasanraway Pagoda

This pagoda is situated on the second range of Nattaung Hill. A few yards to the south of Mahabodhi Shwegu is the wall of the precinct of Ratanasanraway Pagoda. The pagoda was donated and built by King Basawphyu, the third -king of Mrauk-U Dynasty, in .1459 A.D. The wall measures 112 feet long, 88 feet broad and have a staircase and an entrance in the west. The pagoda is now in ruin. The upper portion of the main pagoda is circular, measuring 130 feet in circum-ference and 28 feet in height today. There is an entrance, an arched passage, on the east side of the pagoda. The chamber contains a seated Buddha image, 7 feet high. The pedestal is an octagonal structure of sandstone and was built of eight stages. Each stage is ornamented with numerous designs.

The Ratanamhankin Pagoda

The Ratanamhankin Pagoda stands on the third range of the same hill, Nattaung, about one hundred yards away to the south of the Ratanasanraway. The King Basawphyu in 1468 A.D, a year also erected the Ratanamhankin after the donation and erection of the Ratanasanraway. The pagoda is walled on three sides, north, south and west, with pure stones. The wall measures 150 feet long and 75 feet wide. Each side, except the eastern side, has a staircase. The pagoda was built entirely of sandstone. The dome was ruined. Today only 20 feet of it remains standing and it has a base of 80 feet-in circumferences. To enter the chamber there is a cave passage on the eastern side. The cave is decorated with very fine sculptures, such as birds, ogre, lotus and griffin. But most of the sculptures are now broken and the platform is covered here and there with the ruins of broken images, sculptures, damaged pedestals, pillars, etc. In the middle of all these ruins, in the central sector there lies a large image of seated Buddha in stone, 9 feet high.

The Ratanathinkha Pagoda

The Ratanathinkha Pagoda is situated on top of a small hillock named Galontaung (Galon-bird Mountain) at a distance of one hundred yards to the south of the Ratanamhankin. Hence, the pagoda is also called Galontaung Pagoda. Prince Mingyinyo erected the pagoda together with a stone pillar in 1581 A.D. He was a grandson of King Minbin, one of the most powerful kings in the Mrauk-U Dynasty. According to the inscription on the stone pillar of this pagoda, Mingyinyo's father was King Mintikha who reigned in Rakhine residing in the Mrauk-U Palace, from 1553 to 1555 A.D. The pagoda was constructed with sandstone. Eight turrets and small pagodas in bricks surround the central pagoda.

The Ratanamanaung Pagoda

The King Candathudhammaraza donated the pagoda in 1652 A.D. It is a solid stone structure, octagonal from the base to the top, and measures 344 feet in circumference at the base and 180 feet high. There are no niches, porches, opening, nor decorative designs on the main body of the structure. In the northwest corner of the enclosure is a lima, 54 feet long, 13 feet broad, and 10 feet high. The roof is vaulted and made of stone, but partly in ruins. There are a few other small shrines on the platform, but they are completely ruined. A few distances to the south of Ratanamanaung, facing the Ahiwankan moat, is the Zonedat Hill .The hill is about 150 feet high. It was so important a closed fortress for the palace that the king had appointed a chief commander to guard it.

The Mingalamanaung Pagoda

King Narapatigyi erected the pagoda in the years between 1638 and 1645 A.D. Other sources ascribe the pagoda as being built by the King Oakkabala in 1685 A.D before he died. The pagoda is an octagonal solid stone spire, without porches, niches, or ornamental works. The pagoda is very similar in shape to the Tezarama Pagoda. The ground of the pagoda is scattered with ruins of pagodas. On the south side of the stupa are four stone slabs one side of which is covered with Rakhine inscriptions. One of them is completely damaged; scripts on the other three are legible. According to the inscriptions, King Candavizaya, the 34th king of Mrauk-U Dynasty, set these up in the years between 1720 and 1722 A.D. In the inscription, the King described himself as" the great-great-grandson of Narapatigyi who erected the Mingalamanaung Pagoda."

The Nan-Oo Image

The Nan-Oo image stands at a distance of 100 yards to the southeast of the Mingalamanaung Pagoda. It is 7 feet a'hd 7 inches high and is a stone image. There are numerous stone sculptures around the pedestal. The image was donated by Natshinmai the chief queen of Thirithudhammaraza (1622-1638 A.D). The platform is scattered with ruined sculptures. Some of the broken sculptures are collected at the north of the entrance. About 150 yards to the southwest of the Nan-Oo image is an interesting city walling which is said to be an ancient type of security arrangement. It stretches about one thousand feet in length from east to west. The wall was built with blocks of sandstone and was connected to two small ranges. The wall also served as a protective barrier for the area between the two small ranges and was provided with artillery. This guarded the city against possible attacks from the northern side. An old stone-tower and a stone-gate are still in good condition in this walling.

The Sakyamanaung Pagoda

The Sakyamanaung is situated a half mile northeast of the palace-site, some distance away to the south of the Ratanamanaung Pagoda. The King Thirithudhammaraza who reigned in Mrauk-tJ in the years between 1622 and 1638 A.D built the pagoda in 1629 A.D.

The plan of the base of the pagoda is peculiar. The base consists of eight braces joined to form an irregular octagon, and the braces forming the side on the four cardinal points are wider than the intermediate ones. From the first tier upward the structure is octagonal; the sides over the four main braces form a straight line, and those over the intermediate braces assume a zigzag design. After the ninth tier the shape of the spire becomes circular and continues to be so up to the top.On each side of the second and third tier stands a niche, (or rather a porch) containing a sitting image of Buddha. The facade of the porch contains ornamental designs similar to those found at the Laungbanpyauk Pagoda.The pagoda is still in a fairly good state of preservation. It is 114 feet high. The enclosing stonewall is of simple construction and it has an opening in the east and west side. Two huge giants in kneeling posture guard the western gate. Twelve turrets were built in the platform, which surrounded the pagoda.

The Wuntinattaung

This is the oldest historical site in Mrauk-U. It is situated on a hill to the south of the Sakyamanaung Pagoda, at a distance of 400 yards to the east of the palace site. There are sculptures, which are all ruined. The platform is strewn with damaged stones, which at one time formed the parts of an ancient Nat shrine. According to the local records the shrine is related to the King Paiphyu, the son of Candadevi, who was chief queen in the era of Vesali (4th to 8th century A.D). He had built a palace on Gyettharetaung in Mrauk-U in 776 A.D. A few stone images and two inscriptions were found on the Palace ground and these are exhibited in the Mrauk-U Museum. An inscription which was partly defaced and a record were found there. The script describes the repairing of the shrine. According to the script, the King Minraza repaired the shrine in the year Sakkaraj 883 M.E. (1521 A.D). This inscription is one of the stone-scripts written in old Rakhine language. Another inscription is more interesting. It was found on Wuntinattaung Hill. The script and the general character of the inscription are remarkable in that it resembles the Pall inscriptions found at Sriksetra and which belonged to the 6th or 7th century A.D.

The Wuntinattaung inscription, therefore, serves as an important cultural link between Sriksetra and northern Rakhine, Mrauk-U. Then, there are some stone images; they are almost entirely damaged and most are defaced. One image shows Buddha sitting cross-legged, with the right hand on the right knee, the left resting on the lap, wearing long earings. Behind the head is a circular nimbus, backed by rings of aureole. This pattern stretches to the side of the body, in the manner of some Mahamuni sculptures of the 5th century A.D. Thus, it is considered quite possible that the Wuntinattaung in Mrauk-U had flourished in the eras between the 5th and the 9th century A.D like-other ancient Rakhine cities such as Vesali and Dhanyawaddy.

The Neikbuzar Pagodas

There are three pagodas on the hill. The southern pagoda is called the Auk-Neikbuzar (lowerNeikbuzar). It is bell-shaped. The prayer court contains a seated image of Buddha, 10 feet high. Two other images of nats belonging to the Vesali period, 4th to 8th century A.D, were situated in this court. It is possible that the Wuntinattaung and the Neikbuzar were simultaneously influenced by Vesali civilization. Climbing towards the range one can reach another pagoda called Ahlai Neikbuza (middle Neikbuzar Pagoda), which is in ruins.

The one called PanmaNeikbuza (main Neikbuzar Pagoda) is situated on the top of the same hill. The King Min Saw Oo built all Neikbuza Pagodas in 1527 A.D. A few steps to east of the main Neikbuzar Pagoda lies another group of the pagodas called Paranyinaung (brother pagodas) there are altogether eight pagodas, which are of different types. Close to the east of these pagodas is Miparagyigu (cave of chief queen), on top of a small hillock. In the main chamber of this cave, there is a sitting stone image of Buddha, about 10 feet high. The Queen Sawthandar, a chief queen of the King Mintaikkha, donated the image in 1553 A.D.

The Paraoke Pagoda

About half a mile to the east of palacesite, 200 yards to the southeast of the lower Neikbuzar Pagoda, is the Paraoke Pagoda. It stands on a small hillock about 50 feet high. The Paraoke Pagoda was erected by the King Minphalaung in 1571 A.D. The King was troubled by a disturbance in the whole of the country after he had built the Dukkhanthein Pagoda. Thus, on the advice of his seers and astrologers he donated this pagoda in order to prevent the disintegration of the union. He named this pagoda, "Paraoke", (Oke means to hold or control the whole country.). The uppermost portion of the pagoda has fallen down now. There remains only the lowest tire. The main pagoda is circular at the base, and is constructed of stone. Around the outer side, there are twenty nine niches each holding a4 sitting image of Buddha. The entrance, an arched passage, opens towards the east and connects the chamber which contains a seated stone image of Buddha, 12 feet and 5 inches high on a lotus throne.

The Minkhaungshwetu Pagoda

Close to the southern base of the Paraoak Pagoda Hill about two hundred yards away is the Minkhaungshwetu Pagoda. The pagoda is decorated with various fine sculptures. The erection of this pagoda is ascribed to Natshinmae, a chief queen ofKing Thirithudhammaraza, in 1629 A.D.

The Pisei Pagoda

Half a mile to the northeast of Minkaungshwetu is the four-sided Pisei Pagoda. It is situated on a small hillock of about 150 feet high. The pagoda has four porches in the west, east, north and the south sides. Each porch contains an image of Buddha made of sandstone, Mrauk-U style. The entrance of each side leads to an inner vaulted passage. In the center stands a stone pillar, which supports the roof and an image of Buddha above it. The style of the image belongs to the early Laymro period. Traditionally the shrine is said to have been built in 1123 A.D by the King Kawliya , a king of Parein Dynasty. The pagoda contains a relic of Buddha. The pagoda was repaired by the kings of Mrauk-U Dynasty. The pagoda was constructed entirely of stones and has been greatly revered by Buddhists.

The Koethaung Pagoda

To the north of the Pisei Hill at a distance of 400 yards is the Koethaung Pagoda. The pagoda stands on a plain and is surrounded by paddy fields. The upper tiers of the pagoda had disappeared. The remaining lowest tier is about 30 feet high including earth foundation. The King Mintaikkha who was the son of the King Minbin, the donor of the great Shitthaung Pagoda, built the Koethaung Pagoda in 1553 A.D. The word Koethaung means ninety thousand and thus the temple is supposed to contain ninety thousand Buddhas.

The pagoda is the biggest in size among the pagodas in Mrauk-U. It measures 230 feet from east to west and 250 feet from north to south. The Koethaung Pagoda is very similar to Shitthaung Pagoda, which his father had donated. They are of the same type from the historical and archaeological viewpoints. This tradition of donation of religious buildings by royal families came down from the royal ancestors. The pagoda was constructed of massive stonewalls and terraces. The small one hundred and eight pagodas, all made of sandstone, were built on the terraces. The entrance to the pagoda on the east side leads to a long vaulted passage which spirals round the tiers until it reaches the central chamber. The construction of the Koethaung Pagoda resembles a rock cave tunnel". The main tower above the pagoda is octagonal in shape. It is believed that there may be treasures of sculptures, artworks and even valuable jewelleries buried underneath the ruins. The platform is scattered here and there with vestiges of pagodas, images and many other such paraphernalia.

The legend says that the pagoda was demolished and hit by a thunderbolt because the King Mintaikkha built the Koethaung Pagoda (ninety thousand images), which exceeded in number to the images of his father (King Minbin's) Shitthaung Pagoda (eighty thousand images). It was unlikely. Really, the Pagoda, Koethaung was built in six months time by the advice of his astrologers. In building this pagoda, the workmen used both bricks and stones. Other pagodas were mostly built of pure sandstone, which had been carried, from the Rakhine-coasts. The six-month's time was not long enough to collect the required number of blocks of stone. As a consequence, Koethaung was inferior in quality in materials as well as in workmanship compared to Shitthaung Pagoda.

The Udawsaykan

Four hundred yards to the northeast of the Koethaung Pagoda is Udawsaykan (royal head-washing tank). It is a large tank, 200 yards from north to south, 100 yards from east to west. Traditionally, the kings of Mrauk-U Dynasty celebrated their head-washing ceremony.

Kyaunglaidon Fortress

About two miles to the east, and northeast of palace-site, a half-mile to the east of the Mrauk Myinmoenan, is a fortress named Kyaunglaidon. It was built of stone on the eastern slope of the tiger-ridge. The tiger-ridge was used as one of the outer city walling and is situated on the east of the Mrauk-U City. The ridge runs from north to south. The tiger-ridge runs parallel to the Lemro River and its valley. Thus, the Kyaunglaidon is a very important fortress for the city.

The Theingyishwegu

The Theingyishwegu is a well-known cave of the great nine-cave-temple in Mrauk-U. It is situated in a small hillock, 30 feet high, about one mile away to the southeast of the palace. At that site the King Minbin erected " the Theingyishwegu sima (ordination hall) in 1532 A.D. The whole hillock was made a sima', and huge stone pillars were erected around it to mark the boundary of the sima. It is considered the most attractive sima in Mrauk-U. At present, the huge, sima'pillars and other vestiges remain standing, indicating that the site had once been a land of religious sanctuary. The upper portion of the cave is damaged; only 12 feet high stone image of Buddha remains.

The Nyimadaw Pagoda

A few yards south of the Theingyishwegu up a small hill stands the Nyimadaw Pagoda. It was built by a princess Sawthuba (apmokb), a daughter of the King" Sinpyushin (qifjzL&Sif) (14821492 A.D). The sculptures around the throne are decorated with very attractive designs. Among them a familiar design is a man playing a harp. The donor, the Princess Sawthuba was the younger sister of Sawnanminpyu. The pagoda, donated by Sawthuba, was therefore, Sawthubapara or the Nyimadaw Pagoda.

The Shwetaung Pagoda

The Shwetaung Pagoda (Golden Hill Pagoda) stands on top of a small hill, 250 feet high. The hill is the highest one in the Mruak-U area. It can be seen even from a distance of 20 miles if viewed from out of the Kaladan River. The pagoda stands a half-mile away to the southeast east of the palace-site. The building of the Shwetaung Pagoda was ascribed to King Minbin. It was built between the years 1531 A.D and 1553 A.D. Later donors including kings and present inhabitants repaired it. During the first Anglo-Myanmar War, the Myanmar had built some earthen-fortifications, mounted guns on them and inflicted some losses upon the British forces. A few portions of these earthworks can be seen there still standing.

The Wathaie Image

At the same distance about five hundred yards to the south of the palace site, to the north of the Letsekan Lake is the great image, Wathaie Para. It was made of a large single stone and is the largest image in Mrauk-U. It measures 13 feet in height, excluding the throne and 8 feet from knee to knee. The whole of the body was gilded by the donations of the villagers. The King Tazarta erected this image in 1515 A.D. In 1531 A.D Minbin became the King of Mrauk-U. Before the King set out on a military operation to Bengal, because of the prophecy, he had taken good care of this image. The shrine, which shelters the image, was constructed entirely of stone and was mounted by a new hti. Today, the shrine is in ruin. The image is fairly well preserved by the donors.

The Pankonthein

A huge seated Buddha image, 11 feet high faces the entrance. There is a two-line inscription on the front of the seat of the image. This script is the oldest one found in Mrauk-U. The script is extremely important for the dating of the image and it belonged to the Laymyo period, which extended to the period from 10th to 14th century A.D. At one time the image was situated on the top of the Sandantaung hillock and carried over to the present site from the old city of Launggret by Minhlaraza. It was originally called "Sutawpan Image".

The Jinamanaung Pagoda

This pagoda stands on a low steep hillock named Panhteintaung , half a mile to the south of the palace, was donated by the King Candathudhammaraza in 1658 A.D. He was the 22nd king of the MraukU Dynasty and reigned for twenty-two years from 1652 to 1674 A.D. He was one of the longest reigning kings in the Mrauk-U Dynasty. The name means,"the Buddha who overcame the devil." The pagoda is a solid stone structure, octagonal from base to top, and measures 320 feet around the base and 120 feet in height. In the east is a porch, which leads to a chamber occupying the center of the pagoda. There is seated a bronze image of Buddha in the chamber. Someone took the image made of bronze, away during the first Anglo-Myanmar War. There is another seated image in the chamber. The ceiling is vaulted. The facade of the porch exhibits some -good carving in stone. A double bodied, single-headed lion guards each of the eight corners of the pagoda.

The Shwekyathein

To the west of the palace-site are also numerous pagodas, most of them in ruin; the terrain is intersected by many small creeks. An old monastery named Lakkaukzi Kyaung is situated 400 yards away to the west of the palace-site. There are some ancient images and historical documents in this monastery. To the west of this monastery is a stone gate named Mauktawtaga ,still in good condition. It measures 15 feet high, 9 feet broad and 15 feet long. Nearby, to the west of the gate was an old palace-site. It was situated on a platform, 4 feet high. The palace was built by the King Minsawmon (1430-32 A.D) in honour of a queen, named Mauktaw. About 40 years later, a daughter was born to the King Basawphyu (1459-1482 A.D) on this palace - site and she was named Princess Sawshwekya. The princess donated in 1471 AD a pagoda containing images and a sima. The sima deserves mention for its stone carvings on the facade of the pagoda. It is a small square structure of stone, measuring 18 feet from east to west and 15 feet from north to south. As the roof had fallen down, only 16 feet of the wall remains today. To the east there protrudes a porch, 15 feet long, 14 feet high, with an arched passage (14' long, 4'2" wide, and 10' high), which leads to an image room, 13' by 10' 8". On the west side of the chamber is a large stone image of the Buddha, 8 feet and 8 inches, sitting cross-legged on a roughly hewn stone altar. The facade of the porch is cut into ornamental designs; a pillar, so rare in Rakhine, was found here.

The Lokamanaung Pagoda

This pagoda was also built by Candathudhammaraza (16521674 A.D) in 1658 A.D. It stands on a flat ground. The shrine was constructed with stone blocks, well hewn and cemented. It is square at the base, each side measuring 74 feet; the first four tiers are also square; in the center of each side of the tiers stands a porch containing an image of the Buddha. The sides of the porch are made of stone slabs; the architectural design is similar to that of the Laungbanpyauk Pagoda. There are traces of ornamental designs on the face of the porches. A guinea pig guards each corner of the lowest tier.

On each corner of the first four tiers stands a small circular pagoda, solid and without niches. From the garbha upward the central spire is circular; the apex is crowned with an iron hti (umbrella) once gilded and still in good order. The east facade of the pagoda has a portal 20' high, protruding 2' from the main wall, a vaulted passage 4' 8" wide, 16' high, and 29' long leads to a chamber in the center of the pagoda. It contains a stone image of the Buddha 12 feet high, sitting cross-legged on a stone alter. The ceiling is a hemispherical dome and the apex is 16 feet above ground. The pagoda has a wall measuring 300 feet around the base and 100 feet high.The old roads to Vesali and Mahamuni begin here. These roads are still known as the gold road and the silver road.

The Parabaw Pagoda

Across the Parabaw creek, there is a large and very interesting pagoda named Parabaw. It stands on the bank of a small tidal creek. The King Minrazagyi, the most powerful king of Mrauk-U Dynasty, built the pagoda in 1603 A.D for the occasion of the birth of his new daughter, who was born at the same time in the same year. The princess was named Panthanda (coral flower) and she was declared the donor of this Parabaw Pagoda. It was constructed with bricks; the base is square; the walls stand perpendicular to a height of 20 feet. There are four tiers one above the other. A circular dome-shaped garba and then a succession of twelve concentric bell shaped rings gradually taper off until they reach to a point. At the north, east and south sides, there are protruding portals and there is also a passage with a pointed arch, which leads to a central room. There is a throne built in the west wall of the chamber and on it is seated a large stone image of the Buddha, 12 feet and 3 inches high. This image of the Buddha is very similar in type to the Mahamuni.

The Palace Site

Before visiting any other place in Mrauk U priority should be given to the ruins of the inner palace city where the Royal palace once stood magnificently. The place is surrounded by three wall encirclements. When Mong Saw Mon started buildings the palace, underground canals were first dug, then stone walls were erected and finally the three hills were leveled down. Some of the canals that carried off the water to the Thinghanadi creek to the south of the palace can still be found. The area of the whole palace was 1.2 square miles and the walls were originally made of brick. King Mong Ba Gree reinforced the palace walls with a new structure of stone in 1531. The high of the walls to day averages 12ft and thickness runs about 7ft. Three sites of the palace are guarded with moats.

Laksaykan Lake

Lying side by side with Anuma Lakey south-west of Zina Banaung Pagada is the Laksaykan Lake. This scenic lake is about 100 acres wide and its embankment connecting the two hill ranges has two 12ft high gates. The western gate, know as Laksaykan gate is 24ft long, 17ft high and 8ft wide. In case of an enemy raid from the south of the palace, this gate was to be used flood the lower plains in the north to defer the enemy.The artificial, man-made lakes named Anomakan and Letsekan on the southern part of Mrauk-U were once part of the defence system. They are now peaceful havens for visitors as well as for the local people, and for animals, birds and fish. Letsekan is (3) miles in length and half a mile wide. Some of the old city walls can also be seen.

BAUNG DWET VILLAGE, about 5 km south of Mrauk-U and explore the ruined DUTCH TRADE CENTRE. The old jetty was at Baung Dwet where once the ships harboured and trading centres both of local and international origin flourished at this area. The jetty was always lively with foreign merchants.


According to Rakhine chronicles, Lord Buddha in his life time visited the city of Dhannyawadi (Grain Blessed) in 554 B.C. The Rakhine king Sandar Suriya (Candrasuriya-Sun Moon) requested Lord Buddha to leave the image of Himself. This Buddhist shrine is one of the most revered sites in the whole country as the Maha Muni Buddha Image is believed to have been cast in bronze and five kinds of precious metals by Sakka or Indra the Lord of the Celestial Realm.After casting the Great Image Maha Muni (Great Sage) Lord Buddha breathed upon it which resembled the exact likness of the Blessed One. Maha Muni was worshipped by Rakhine kings for centuries and regarded as a protector of the country. In 1784 A.D , Rakhineland was conquered by king Bodaw Paya and the Great Image was carried across the Rakhine Yoma to Amarapura (now Mandalay).

In the main shrine on the topmost level are three very old stone images of Buddha. The central image four feet, two inches high is known as Maha Muni's brother. The shrine is a peaceful, quiet place about 10 km east of Kyauktaw town and about 40 km north of Mrauk U. It is on a small hillock called Sirigutta surrounded by three low walls on three successive terraces, the main shrine built on the highest platform. On the lowest platform is an old library built by king Minkhari in AD 1439; it is a rare example of a library from this early period Also a large tank dug by king Sandasuriya can be seen in the vicinity. In the year 1900, a rich man from Akyab (Sittwe), U Rai Kyaw Thu cast an image and installed it at the former place of the Great Image. Up to this day, Maha Muni site has become the most venerated site in Myanmar and the former glory has again been restored due to the new highway linking Yangon and Sittwe. Mahamuni Site now can be reached by car either from Sittwe or Mrauk U. Throughout the year, pilgrams flocked to visit from all parts of Rakhine State as well as devotees from different parts of Myanmar. There is a small museum near the shrine which displays some oldest stone sculptures in Myanmar. The Maharmuni festival falls in the month of Tabaung (March).

...Posted By... Arakan Research Centre ...Date... Friday, October 28, 2011. ...Post Title... , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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