Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wonderful Myanmar's Remote Land: Mrauk U

Painting from 1676

Mrauk U or Arrakan (city of Arrakan), in the first plan the Portuguese settlement of Daingri-pet.
In 1433, King Min Saw Mon established Mrauk U as the capital of the last unified Arakanese Kingdom. The city eventually reached a size of 160,000 in the early seventeenth century. Mrauk U served as the capital of the Mrauk U kingdom and its 49 kings till the conquest of the kingdom by the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty in 1784.

Trading City
Due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, Mrauk U developed into an important regional trade hub, acting as both a back door to the Burmese hinterland and also as an important port along the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal. It became a transit point for goods such as rice, ivory, elephants tree sap and deer hide from Ava in Burma and of cotton, slaves, horses, cowrie, spices and textiles from Bengal, India, Persia and Arabia. Alongside Pegu (now Bago) and later Syriam (now Thanlyin), it was one of the most important ports in Burma till the eighteenth century.
The city also traded with non-Asian powers such as Portugal and then the Dutch East India Company of the Netherlands. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) established trading relations with the Arakanese in 1608 after the Portuguese fell in favour due to the lack of loyalty of Portuguese mercenaries, such Filipe de Brito e Nicote in the service of the Arakanese king. The VOC established a permanent factory in Mrauk U in 1635 and operated in Arakan till 1665.
At its zenith, Mrauk U was the centre of a kingdom which stretched from the shores of the Ganges river to the western reaches of the Ayeyarwaddy River. According to popular Arakanese legend, there were 12 cities of the Ganges’ which constitute roughly half of modern day Bangladesh which were governed by Mrauk U, including Dhaka and Chittagong. During that period, its kings minted coins inscribed in Arakanese, Kufic and Bengali.
Much of Mrauk U’s historical description is drawn from the writing of Friar Sebastian Manruque, a Portuguese Augustinian monk who resided in Mrauk U from 1630 to 1635.

Get In
By Boat
The journey through the backwaters and then up the river is a wonderful trip (contemplative and delightful). In Nov 2011 there were two large ferries running from Sittwe to Mrauk U, the ex-government boat (now privatized) and the Aung Kyan Moe double decker boat (on both tourists 10 USD, 7 hours and an Express boat (20 USD, 3 hours). You will almost certainly be met at Sittwe airport by a tout selling private boats/ places on private boats (2-5 passenger 20 USD per person, 6 hours, one way), which may be useful if you want to go that afternoon, as you save a night in Sittwe.
If taking a private boat it is best to book the one way trip only, and arrange your return from Mrauk U. There is a guy whose card reads “Environmental Decorator” among other things selling boat places there, and he grouped all of his passengers who had booked (and paid for) a private return into a single boat. The best rule of thumb is to hand over your money only when you see and are satisfied with the boat. Private boats will typically have coffee and tea, and sometimes water for passengers, so bring your own food as the journey is about 5 hours.

By Road
Busses leave for Sittwe and Yangon every morning but foreign independent travelers are not permitted to travel to Mrauk U overland. Ref; The Travellers
Mrauk U ancient capital

Inside a temple @ Mrauk U
Bird eye view of nowadays Mrauk U
Htukkan Thein Paya from 1500s 

Inside of the Htukkan Thein Paya

Local people playing in front of an ancient temple

The view of Koethoung Temple

Inside the Koethoung Temple

Inside the Shitthoung Temple

Ruin Koethoung Temple

Quiet Mrauk U

Shitthoung  Temple

Stone carving inside the Koethoung Temple

Inside the Shitthaung Temple

The Mrauk U market
Public ferry from Sittwe to Mrauk U
Local passengers in the Public ferry
Boarding to the Private Boat
Inside the private boat to Mrauk U

Relaxing on the private boat
On the way scenery
Mrauk U Jetty

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