Rakhine & Its environs
Rakhine State (formerly Arakan) is
located on the western part of Myanmar between RakhineYoma
(Mountain ranges) and bay of Bangle, and bordered with
Bangladesh. Rakhine State is narrow coastal region. Sittwe
is the capital city of that state. Having an area of 36,778
km and the population is about 3 million. Rakhine offers
some of the richest archaeological sites in South-East Asia.
The Rakhine Coast, though generally rocky, has some lovely
beaches. The average temperature is about 29' C during the
summer and about 21' C in the cold season. The whole region
receives heavy rainfall (more than 500 cm a year). Storms,
originating in the Bay of Bengal, may visit the region from
October to May. Sittwe, Kyaukpru and Thandway also have air
links with Yangon.
This port city of the Rakhine State sits
at the mouth of the Kaladan River where it empties into the
Bay of Bangal. Off shore delta islands form a wide protected
channel that has served as an important harbour for many
centuries. The city started as a trading port around 200
years ago and further developed after the British occupation
of 1826. International trade alone the coast bloomed during
the British era. Two huge cargo steamers a day plied back
and forth between Calcutta and Sittwe.
This temple is situated in the centre of
town and features a large plain shed supported by pillars
decorated with glass mosaic. A large seated Buddha image was
cast in 1900 in the Rakhine style with the royal costume
common to many Rakhine images. The face of the figure shines
with gold, while the rest of the body is of bronze.
This modest two-storey museum is the best
place in Myanmar to view Rakhine Style Buddha images. The
collection here represents a rare instance of historical
preservation. Most of the images are under a meter in height
with the royal attire common to Rakhine Buddhas Images. The
majority dates to the Mrauk U period, while a few date as
far back as the Wethali era and are made of bronze, silver,
quartz or alabaster. There are also some Indian Buddha
images and Hindu deities on display, a few Thai and Japanese
Buddha statues, silver coins from the Mrauk U era, clay
pipes, terracotta votive tablets and engraved astrological
charts. Entry is free.
The City of Maruk-U is situated 64 km
upstream to the northeast of Sittwe. It lies between Laymyo
and Kaladan rivers. The city is surrounded by mountains.
Mrauk U is the ornament of Rakhine culture. Its name
suggests the fulfillment of endeavors. Between 1430 and
1785, it was the last capital of the powerful Rakhine King
where the Rakhine culture had it full bloom.
Maruk U is fast becoming a tourist
attraction. Many places of interest the travelers can see.
The most worth-seeing ones are the Shittaung, the Andaw
Thein, the Dukkhan Thein, the Koethaung, the Laymyetnha and
the Shwe Daung Pagodas, the travelers can go there by air,
water, and land. You can visit if you wish to visit Waithali,
Parin and Launggyat, which were the oldest Kingdoms in
The Shitethaung Temple
The temple was built in 1536 AD by King
Mong Ba Gree to commemorate the victory over the twelve
provinces of Bengal and the Portuguese marauders who came to
make assault on the capital. For this reason, the temple is
also called the "Temple of Victory".
The first terrace is 40ft high. Their
walls are built with stone blocks. On the first terrace, one
may see the Sunrise and Sunset temples in their miniature
sizes. It is said that these two signify the power of the
donor-builder of the temple King Mong Ba Gree in the sense
that the sun never sets in his territory.
The main shrine has a gallery around the
structure .The shrine is said to encase 84,000 holy relics
of the Blessed One and is dedicated to the 84,000 future
Buddhas. After rounding off the number, the shrine in time
came to be called the Temple of Eighty Thousand Images. The
temple is a cave hall surmounted by a main Stupa and
twenty-six smaller Stupas surrounding it. Shitethaung temple
is in some way a cultural museum of Rakhine Mrauk-U Period.
Inside the bowl or relic chamber, there are enshrined
relics, a variety of the Buddha and his disciples. The size
of the temple is 160ft in length, 124ft in breadth, and 86ft
in height. One should take time to study it, as his sojourn
in Mrauk-U may not be fully fulfilled without visiting it.
The Anndaw Thein
About 90ft north of the Shitethaung
Temple stands Anndaw Thein or Temple of the Holy Molar
Relic; brought from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) .The temple has an
octagonal design made of pure sandstone block. The main
Stupa, surrounded by eight smaller ones, is on the upper
platform. King Mong Raza Gree rebuilt in 1596 encasing the
original pagoda built by Mong Hla Raza in 1521.
Going west from the Ratanabon Pagoda one
reaches Htukkant Thein Temple, situated on the height of
20ft. One has to go up along eighteen steps of the
stone-stairs. The leveled hill is 204ft north to south and
260ft east to west. The form of the pagoda is like that of
the Shitethaung Temple. The donor-builder is King Mong
Phaloung, who erected it in 1571. Htukkant Thein Temple is
museum of traditional costumes of Mrauk-U period. The
figures in the temple epitomize the various Mrauk-U period
costumes and ornaments.