Have you ever been to Mrauk U,the capital of the last unified Arakanese Kingdom?

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Mrauk U is called figuratively as “the flower of Rakhine” by most of Rakhine writers and artists.  Now it’s a district town of  Rakhine State,western Myanmar,and is not so much famous around the world of touring like Bagan. Neverless,if you have been once Mrauk U,you will feel that you are lucky  to know about the race who had sovereignity till 18th century. Mrauk U has to show so many historical documents to visiters;victories, prosperities of golden era, the grievous defeats  as  it faced with so many ups and downs in it’s life of empire.

photo credit:shoeyourpath.com

 A Brief History Of Mrauk-U

Mrauk U was constructed by The King Min Saw Mon in 1430, as the capital of the last unified Arakanese Kingdom. It served as the capital of the Mrauk U kingdom for 355 years, and was ruled by 48 kings till the conquest of the kingdom by the Burmese Konbaung Dynesty in 1784.After the first Englo-Burmese war in 1826,it fell to the British’s Colony Empire. During British colonial rule, Mrauk U was known as Myohaung.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. 

A City Of Oriental Splendor

The golden city of Mrauk U became known in Europe as a city of oriental splendor after Friar Sebastian Manrique visited the Arakan in the early 17th century. The English author Maurice Collis who made Mrauk U and Rakhine famous after his book,The Land of the Great Image based on Friar Manrique’ travels in Arakan.

Due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, Mrauk U developed into an important regional trade hub. It became a transit point for goods such as rice, ivory, elephants, tree sap and deer hide from Ava in Myanmar, and of cotton, slaves, horses, cowrie, spices and textiles from Bengal, India, Persia and Arabia.

Where And How to Visit

The town is located between the Bay of Bengal and the Rakhine Yoma and it’s on the eastern side of the Kaladan’s(Kysapnadi’s) alluvial plain. It’ssurrounded by hills and also  known as the ‘Stone City’. Thus, the surrounding countryside is hilly yet also contains a great deal of marshes, mangroves and lakes. It is only 45 miles from the seacoast and Sittwe,the city of Rakhine State, Myanmar,and it can be easily reached by air via Sittwe.

From Yangon there are daily flights to Sittwe and there are small private boats as well as larger public boats plying through the Kaladan river to Mrauk U. The most popular mode for tourists is to take a domestic flight from Yangon to Sittwe and board a boat from Sittwe against the Kaladan River. The hotels in Mrauk U also arrange private boat services to and from Sittwe.

Aiming to develop tourism in Mrauk U,the government started Mrauk U airport construction plan in 2015.Now the airport is on going contruction .If the plan  is finished, the flight time will takes about 20 minutes from Bagan to Mrauk U directly,and tourism of  Mrauk U will grow  accordingly because of  becoming better transportation.

Attractive Places to Visitors

As the old capital of Rakhine Kingdom and it’s prosperities ,the kings, ministers and peasants built many pagodas and temples around the town to reflect their faith and conquest.As a result, Mrauk U offers some of the richest archaeological sites  in South-East Asia including stone inscriptions, Buddha images, the Buddha’s foot-prints and the great pagodas.Most of the temples were constructed of hewn stone bricks, unlike the mud and clay bricks of Bagan. The main attractions are the temples and ruins around the town. The remains of the main palace roughly form the centre of the town.

The Koe Thaung Temple

 The most notable temples are the Shite Thaung Temple (Temple of 80,000 Images or Temple of Victory), Htukkanthein Temple (Htukkan Ordination Hall), the Koe Thaung Temple (Temple of 90,000 Images) and the Five Mahn pagoda. There are more than 1500 historical pagodas.

The Chite Thaung Temple

Infrasturcture

Being a tourists’ destination, Mrauk U has very basic infrastructure such as a hospital, a Basic Education High School,a market, 24 hrs electricity and police guards for security.There are seven hotels and 13 guest houses in Mrauk U according to last records.The Shwethazin, The Mrauk U Nawarat,The Mrauk U Palace,The Mrauk U princes,The Princess,The Mrauk U and The Vesali Resort are the best hotels and resorts to choose for foreigners and some affordable local visitors.According to the reports,there are more than 4000 international tourists visit Mrauk-U every year. It’s a small amount of visitors in comparison with those of Bagan, visiting nearly 300000 tourists. So we can say that Mrauk U is still struggling to woo tourists.

Mruak U Princess Resort Hotel

Application  for UNESCO World Heritage Site

            In 2017, the Advisory  Commission led by Kofi Annan urged Myanmar to nominate Mrauk U for UNESCO World Heritage Site  status. The Ambassador of Italy to Myanmar, Mr. Pier Giorgio Aliberti, and the Head of UNESCO Myanmar Office, Ms. Min Jeong Kim, signed on 28 March,2018 at the Embassy of Italy in Yangon the Agreement for “Supporting the safeguarding, management and valorisation of Mrauk-U”.The final application will be submitted in early 2020.As a result,we hope that Mrauk U will be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the near future.

            In conclusion,Mrauk U,the silent archaeological city for a long time in the tourism world, will  boom sooner or later for it’s cultural values,attractive and beatiful natural views, peace and safty for visitors,and simple and friendly natives.So,have you ever been to Mrauk U?If your answer is no,please visit it and enjoy the virgin city of Rakhine Kingdom.You’re always welcome to visit Mrauk U!

Ref:Mrauk U wiki/UNESCO/Mrauk U guide

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