Once, more than six million shrines and pagodas flourished in Mrauk-U. There is rarely any hilltop that does not adorn itself with one pagoda or another. In fact, they formed the pride of the golden city. Dr. Forchhammer wrote in his Arakan”….. In durability, architectural skill, and ornamentation the Mrohang (Mrauk-U) temples far surpass those on the banks of the Arrawaddy. The stone pagoda in Mrauk-U were built three and four centuries ago.
This old city is just 40 miles upstream to the north-east of Sittwe. Founded in 1430, and rebuilt by the help of the Portuguese a century later, Mrauk-U stood long for three hundred and Fifty–Five years. 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 king and 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 Palace, 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 pagoda, Maruk-U, the last stronghold of the Mrauk-U king could be considered as the fortress city in Myanmar.
Mrauk-U rich heritage is evidenced by many magnigicent monument and pagoda as the massive Shitethaung that houses a rich array of lord Budha’s previors lives and also the figurines of Rakhine culture to that period. The colossal Htukkant Thein, an ordination hall with several images exhibiting clothing popular in the 16th century, richly decorated central pillar of Anndaw Thein, auspicious Lemyathna Pagoda, coloured plaque Laung-bwannbrauk Pagoda, conical structures of victory pagodas.
The Mrauk-U bound vessels usually depart from a jetty in the Sattroegya a tributary creek of the Kaladan river, where the bulk of Rakhine State’s trade and commerce is handled. A panoramic view of distant mountain peaks serving as a backdrop for the eastern side of the Kaladan river greets the travellers as the vessel nears the mouth of the creek. Fishing boats, sampans, country-boats, catamarans and vessels of various kinds somewhat reflect the life style of the Rakhine nationals.
About 90ft north of the Shitethaung Temple stands Anndaw Thein of Temple of the Holy Molar Relic. It was built on the flattened hillock of northernmostpart of Pokhaung range. The temple has an octagonal design. The main stupa, surrounded by eigh smaller ones, are on the upper platform. The monument has three platforms surmounted by concave bell havng rings around it. Each corner of the structure is so formed that it renders a symmetrical look. The temple is about forty feet high and there are smaller pagodas around it.
King Mong Raza Gree rebuilt it in 1596 encasing the original pagoda built by Mong Hla Raza in 1521. For Having encased Buddha molar relic, brought from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by King Mong Ba Gree, the temple is known as Anndaw Thein.
It was one of the five pagoda built with the city of Mrauku in Sakarit 792 (AD 1430) by King Minhla Raza Saw Mun, in the northwest of the city.
The entire system was built with a central pagoda and four satellite pagoda. It was covered with a wall on four sides (now damaged). In the east and the west were entrance roads.
In the pagoda was a round of cave. In the centre with face to the eight directions were images of a single brown rock. Between one entrance and another were five images in caves making it altogether 28. It was believed to have been built in accord with the Wednesday characters of Ya-Ra-La-Wa.
Htokkant Ordination Pattodawgyi
The Htokkant ordination Pattodawgyi is situated on a 30-foot promontory 300 feet to the west of the Shitthoung Pattodawgyi complex. In Sakarit 933 (1571 AD) King Min Phalaing and Queen Shinlat had it built.
Under the dome of the edifice is built a Htupa Zedi, with a smaller one at each corner. In the chamber under the zedi is and entrance-way that leads from the south and access may be gained through a concourse tunnel. Alone the tunnel are 146 niches where stone images of the lord Buddha are placed. On either side of these small cave are sculpted statues of 16th Century Mrauk U era people and warriors in their original costume-styles. Also may be seen are 64 hairdos of the Rakhine people of the time depicted in the sculptures.
In the circular path of the tunnel, halfway from and west of the entrance, may be found a meditation hall of the king, called the Sabbath Hall, with two doors. The Sacred Chamber is under the Htupa Zadi beneath the dome of the main edifice. It was said to contain, in ancient times, a Buddha statue made with nine gems. In the front part of this chamber may be observed stone shelves where lamps may be placed.
Literally it means 90,000 statues. The ruins of this stone rising about 50ft from the ground can be found to the north of Pizi Phara. Each of the three sides has terraces with a number of small pagodas built on each. The inner gallery under this structure has been rendered inaccessible now. At the centre of the precincts there is an octagonal pagoda. This massive piece of architecture reminds one of Barabodure of Indonesia.
King Mong Tikkha built it in 1553. Shitethaung of Temple of 80,000 was built by his father and he built the 90,000 giving rise to a popular saying “80,000 taken by father and 90,000 by the son”. As the court astrologers pronounced an ill-omen that the king Tikkha would die of an ill-omen after six months of coronation, this Kothaung was built as an astro-magical contrivance for warding off the evils. He temporarily had his palace built on the hummock east of Kothaung.
Unlike the other most commonly seen images, the “Sublime Sage” is not wearing a simple monk’ robe but is embellished in bejeweled crown and full royal regalia. This unusual depiction of the Buddha show himself as a cakkavatti or emperor of the universe. It is the tradition copy after Pala age models.
For the early risers, the early morning ablutions to wash the image’s face washed with incensed water and its teeth cleaned at 4: 30 am every day.
So covered with gold is this 13 foot (3.8m) statue expect the face, the rest of the body is coated under millions of strips of gold leaves. If the amount of gold (2.7 kg) 6 pounds a year is to be slicked on statute, some 500 pounds(225kg) of gold envelopes the statues- is never your guess work!
Pizi Phara, resting to the east of Pharaouk, has four entrance and is built of stones. An eight-feet high Lemro period stone image rests upon the central column,around which three are four more images. This pizi Temple was built by King Kauliya of Parein in 1123. It houses the holy testis relic of the Buddha. The temple bears silent testimony to the fact that the Mrauk-U temples and pagodas house a variety of the holy relics of the Great Teacher
In Sakarit 839, Administrator of what today is Thandwe, Ba Saw Thiri, Who was then known as Min Byin Prince for he administered Lamokri Min Byin estate, ascended the throne of Mrauk U. He was also known as Minba, and he had ordered cast or sculpted all the Buddhas who had come into existence, for his reverence. Moreover, he ordered sculpted 80,000 (Shitthoung) status in anticipation of the Buddhas who will come into being in future, some in stone and some in gems. There were 20,000 cast in stone and 60,000 cast in precious stone and he had them placed at entrances to pagodas. The main pagoda was built in five tiers, surrounded by a variety of stone pagodas. The main edifice, the Pahtodawgyi, was built with hewn rock on leveled ground of Pokhaung Hill north of the royal palace. The Pahtodawgyi was also known as Shitthoung Pagoda of the Yan Aung Zeya Pagoda in memory of quelling the Portugese attack.
On the South, west and north walls of the Pahtodawgyi, smaller stone pagodas were built. On the south wall was built one large pagoda and 17 smaller ones. On the west wall were three small ones. On the north wall was one large pagoda and 14 smaller ones. The statues around the Pahtodawgyi are of many varied mudras. On the roof of the Pahtodawgyi was built the Htuaryon Pagoda and 26 accompanying smaller pagoda. It was said to represent the Sattavitthana constellation.
Yadana Manaung Zedidaw
It is situated about half a mile in the north-east from the ancient palace mound, having been built in Sakarit 1020 (AD 1658) by King Snada Thudhammaraza and Queen Ratana Piya Dewi.
Its name was meant to signify the success of Rakhine people on account of their traditional belief in the Three Gems of Buddhism.
The stupa was built in the traditional way with the bell, down-turned lotus, up-turned lotus, plantain bud, steel umbrella, the perch and diamond bud. In places near by are figures of birds and animals representing astrological corners.
In the north is the king’s sabbatical chamber called the White Cave 54 feet long, 13 feet wide and ten feet high. In the east is a cave having rock figurines.