Mrauk U was an important trading city, the capital of the Arakan Kingdom between the 15th and 18th Centuries, dealing with the Portuguese and the Dutch. The prosperity it created is manifest in the structures that were built in this now abandoned city. It is in the north of the Rakhine State, a hilly region of Myanmar.
In a country of many great sights there is no doubt that its inclusion in Myanmar tour packages is thoroughly justified as this Mrauk U travel guidehopes to demonstrate. Its fall began with the arrival of the British and the first Burmese War in 1826. The British opted to move trading to Sittwe further down the Kaladan River.
Part of its current attraction on a Myanmar holiday is the fact that there are currently few overseas visitors coming to this remote part of the country.
There are hundreds of temples in the immediate vicinity which can be conveniently divided into four groups on a geographical basis. Local villagers still use several for their daily worship and visitors will see that as a legacy of the British presence the names are written in English. There are maps freely available and virtually all of them are open to inspection.
The most famous of the pagodas is the Shittaung Pagoda built in celebration of King Min Bin’s victory over Bengal in 1535. The exterior like many of the Rakhine temples have been harmed by poor ‘’renovation’ but the interior remains impressive and because there has been no exposure to the sun the colours remain vivid. The nearby Andaw temple is not quite so old but contains a tooth relic. Ratanabon Zedi has a central buddha and typifies the type of temples built early in the 17th Century. There is a hill nearby where visitors can look down on this northern part of Mrauk U.
Elsewhere the concentration of temples is not quite so high. One temple in the eastern area that Myanmar travel packages will include is Kothaung with Mong Khong Shwe and Phara Ouk worth a visit. Kothaung has 90,000 images of Buddha, 10,000 more than Shittaung. In the south there are elevated views and on one of the hills Zinamanaung Pagoda deserves inspection as does Lattsaykan Lake.
Bandoola Kyaung is a monastery in the west covering a number of hills. Myanmar travel is very rewarding and that most certainly includes the city of Mrauk U. Its centre has the ruins of the palace and the Haridaung Pagoda on the nearby hill.
Our Mrauk U travel guide suggests that visitors can see everything within two days and if time is limited the best thing to do is to visit the places mentioned above and anything that catches the eye close to them.If you have time the village of Wethali is just a short distance away, a place whose history exceeds 1,000 years and together with the Hsu Taung Pre Buddha, the Mahamuni Paya and a museum deserve close attention.