Mrauk UA Mrauk
Information about Mrauk U (Mrauk Oo)
Situated on the hills of Rakhine State, the deserted town, and several hundred of Mrauk U pagoda and temple sites (also known as Mrauk Oo and expressedly "Myow Oo" or "Mrow Oo", according to Burma or Rakhine pronounciation ), are an impressive view while offering a completely different adventure than anything else in Myanmar.
Mrauk U was the capitol of a powerful Iraqi empire from the fifteenth to eighteenth century, often frequented by overseas merchants (including Portuguese and Dutch), which is mirrored in the size and extent of its surrounding area. However, after the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1826, the British relocated the Kaladan to Sittwe.
Mrauk U. offers a wide range of Myanmar land trips that cover the area. Mrauk U's memorials are broadly divided into north, east, south and west groups. In Mrauk U there are many hundred monasteries, many of which are primarily everyday places of cult for the locals; what follows is a guidebook to the most magnificent and historic of these.
Many of the churches have name tags in English, with building dates. There are free tickets available at most places or at the L'Amitié Art Gallery (in the group to the north of Shittaung Pagoda) to show the cemetery. You will find useful information on how to get around Mrauk U further down this page.
Other than in Bagan, where some of the churches are closed, the interior of almost all the churches in Mrauk U are open and can be visited. Watch our YouTube movie of Mrauk U's Northern Group and Ratanabon Zedi and visit our Flickr photoset for a larger choice of Mrauk Us.
It is the area with the highest concentrations of interesting sites in Mrauk U, as well as the best vantage point at sundown. It is also within easy walking distance from most hotel. To the north is the most celebrated building of Mrauk U, the Shittaung Pagoda, which was erected in 1535 to commemorate King Min Bin's triumph over the twelve Bengal states.
Unfortunately, parts of the tile structures have been covered with cement as part of a comprehensive modernization and "Burmeseization" of some of these Rakhine tradition. On the eastern side of the page, the central praying room shows several hundred Buddhas and lavish works of art on the ceilings. The Mrauk U temple has a K5000 entrance charge, which is only charged (and sold) at the Shittaung Lounge.
Immediately NE of the Shittaung Pagoda are Andaw Temples and Ratanabon Zedi. The Buddha's dental reliquary is to be kept in the Andaw-tempple ( "Andaw-Temple", 1598 ), which has a praying room on its east side, from which one can access the template oneself. Ratanabon Zedi, erected in 1612 by King Min Khamong and his Majesty Shin Htwe, is a beautiful example of the unusually deep, walled, bell-shaped architecture that is customary in Mrauk U. And just to the west is a mound that provides the most spectacular view in the area - most dramatic at sundown.
There is a wonderful remote country side of Andaw and Ratanabon with sanctuaries to the south. To the east are the Ratasanrway and Ratahmankeen Temple with gold lace and the Mahabodhi Shwegu, which has a captivating interier. The Laung Bwann Brauk Pagoda (built in 1525) is located further up the hill in the western part of the river although the path may be obstructed by cattle!
These pagodas are decorated with remains of colorful, mosaic-like ornament. Pitaka Taik, the "Library of Buddhist Scriptures" (built in 1591) is located at the end of the village. Since it is not a sanctuary, this is one of the few places in the area that you don't need to move out to use.
Mrauk U's old defensive structures naturally end the hike through the valleys, but if you want to continue your exploration of the countryside, the hills are easy to climb along small trails. Opposite the Shittaung pit is the fortress-like Htukkanthein-tempple, which was erected in 1571 by King Min Phalaung.
The inside of the sanctuary is equally singular and intriguing; its internal drama room spiral inside, in a clock-wise direction, past hundred of rock sculptures and Buddhas until one reaches the heart of the Buddha, which is located in the central canopy. While these groups are further dispersed and generally not the same size as the north group ( (except for the large Kothaung Temple), they are still intriguing and a must on every Mrauk U trip. The best way to explore these monasteries, whether by road or bike, is an east-south bend.
On the east side, which leads from the main building to Kothaungtempple, you will meet the Mong Khong Shwe pit on your right and the Phara Ouk on a hillside on your lefthand side, both of which are worth a walk.
This and the wonderful view of the rice paddies and the Kothaung temples in the northern direction are definitely rewarding to climb up the hills. Kothaung is undoubtedly one of the highpoints of Mrauk U; the name relates to the 90,000 Buddha pictures it is supposed to contain.
Constructed by King Mintaikkha in 1553, it attempted to surpass the great efforts of his fathers, the Shittaung Pagoda (80,000 pictures). Once you have walked up the stairs to reach the sanctuary, you can walk around the main stupa twice - once in the atmosphere and vaulting external corridor surrounded by Buddha, and then again to see the sand-stone pictures surrounding the stupas outdoors.
Back towards the center of Mrauk U is the Sakya Manaung pit. It was erected in 1629 and is more artistic than the older Mrauk U rams, with gold and polished laces on the structure and two colorful sword-bearing statues at the door. To the southeast is the Shwe Taung pit, one of the highest points in Mrauk U and a favourite place for sunrises.
We continue to Zinamanaung Pagoda, a wonderful pagoda with a panorama view of the nearby hill and Lattsaykan Lago. In fact, there are two coupons up here, and in the eastern part (over the valley) you can see a series of coupons eaten by the plants, still clearly recognizable by their characteristic form - but now in the same color as the serenity.
Just across the door is Latttsaykan Sea, a scenic body of waters that was Mrauk U's forefront. There' s also a collection of shrines and shrines in the smaller group in the West, but whether you choose to attend them will depend on the time and your level of your energies!
Shittaung Pagoda Festival is held in Mrauk U in April and offers boating events - both on the water and ashore - as well as local folk dance contests. Mrauk U is centered around the collapsing castle wall, whose inside is now empty and whose entrance is closed by barbwire (although it doesn't take much to break through these defences!).
Just south of the castle is the Haridaung Pagoda, which lies on a mound next to a convent and offers a clear panorama of the castle grounds - as well as of the churches and levels to the east. Mrauk U's various hostels and restaurants encircle the building, and the city' s major road and markets are just northwest.
Most of the river's international arrivals are in the southwest of the city (click on the links at the bottom of this page for more information on how to get to Mrauk U). When you are looking for restaurants, Mrauk U mostly provides basic tea houses and pubs, most of which are in the vicinity of the castle.
You can either rent a bike for the length of your visit (as always with the sun in mind), or rent a car for the first morning to visit the temple groups to the east and south, and then walk to the north group the second morning.
Jeeps (usually without windows and open to the sky, but with a sunscreen cover) are about K25,000 per night; this probably comes with a non-English-speaking rider who should still be able to give you the name of a stamp. There are no limits on travelling in the area and it is secure for foreign visitors to come to Mrauk U and Sittwe.
Mrauk U itself takes only two day to visit; if you want to go further to the northern side of the other archeological places in the area and to visit the Chin ethnical communities upstream, you will need more space (see below on this page). Mrauk U often has power outages (although most are equipped with emergency generators), and Wi-Fi is very hard to find.
This simplicity and the absence of external contacts, however, is part of the attraction of Mrauk U; the absence of man-made lighting makes the view even more clear and attractive, an effect further intensified by the fumes that drift across the valleys at sundown.
Vesali, a small town that was the capitol of an old empire over a thousand years ago, is located 10 km from Mrauk U. Here you will find the relatively well-preserved plan of its old castle and further down the Great Picture of Hsu Taung Pre - a large seated Buddha in the area.
Mrauk U can be reached in two hours by road or all days by bike. Mahamuni Paya is 40 km from Mrauk U, and a roadster costs about 35,000 K for a full excursion, which includes Wethali and the Great Picture of Hsu Taung Pre. A further option for a Mrauk U excursion is to go to some of Chin's ethnical minorities' towns.
Upstream, the drive becomes very picturesque as the river becomes narrower, and the tour itself gives you the chance to see the indigenous tradition firsthand and to meet the Chinese villagers' wives who are known for their unmistakable inked faces.