Like the more well known Bagan, Mrauk U (pronounced mrow-oo) is an archaeological treasure from a lost civilisation. During the 15th to the 18th centuries, Mrauk U was the capital of the Arakan kingdom. At its peak, Mrauk U controlled half of Bangladesh, modern day Rakhine State and the western part of Lower Burma. It flourished as a port city, visited by Portuguese, Dutch and French traders. Mrauk U has only recently been re-opened to tourism, so it’s a must see destination.
As the city grew, many pagodas and temples were built. After the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1826, the British moved the regional trading centre down the Kaladan River to Sittwe, and Mrauk U went into decline, leaving behind some important architectural monuments.
Shittaung Pagoda, is perhaps the best preserved Pagoda, and home to some 80,000 holy Buddha images. Thirty three smaller ones, rising from platform to platform, similar in style to Indonesia’s Borobudur, flank the large central stupa.
Inside the Pagoda is like a maze and it’s fascinating to wander through the interior passages, admiring reliefs and Buddha images in niches.
Htukkanthein Pagoda is a construction of laterite and sandstone bricks that resembles a huge bunker from the outside.
The Pagoda has three chambers, rotating clockwise inwards. The entire temple has a total of 180 Buddha images in niches. On each side of the niches are sculpted male and a female figures, said to represent the donors who made the construction of the temple possible.
Andaw Thein is adjacent to the Shitthaung Temple. The name means Tooth Shrine. It contains a tooth relic of the Buddha coming from Sri Lanka. It was first built as an ordination hall between 1515 and 1521 by King Thazata, and restored by Min Bin between 1534 and 1542. It was later expanded into a temple by King Raza II in order to house a tooth relic of the Buddha he brought back from his pilgrimage to Ceylon,around 1600.