March 5, 2014
Our first full day in MRAUK U. Archaeologically important town. It was the capital of the Mrauk U kingdom from 1430-1785. All sorts of stories about the meaning of the name. There's the one that says the name means "first accomplishment" in Arakanese language based on a story of the Arakanese crushing an invasion from the Pyu. Town today was located near where the defeat happened so Prince Pai Phru took the throne of Wethali from his uncle who had murdered the prince's father. The battle was viewed as the first accomplishment of the prince thus the name for the town. Another says the name Mrauk U came from a monkey giving an egg to Gautama Buddha thus Monkey Egg became Mrauk U. Or there was a female monkey who got together with a peacock and laid an egg. From that egg a human son was born who grew to be a strong prince. This prince built a city and it was called Mrauk U meaning monkey's egg. Gotta love the stories!!
It was an important trading city because of its location near the Bay of Bengal. The city traded with northern cities like Ava and countries of India, Portugal, and the Netherlands. As life was flourishing in the city many pagodas and temples were built close to the town. Most are constructed of stone bricks. Mrauk U is second to Bagan in this richness of temples/pagodas.
Up early as today will be challenging. We have a minute walk from our room to the building where breakfast is served. It's a buffet like the other places except not much variety. There's juice, coffee or tea but powdered cream, fruit, bread for toast , and fried eggs in a warmer. It's limited choices but not bad. Joining us in this room are a few other tourists but no other Americans. Think they may be French-2 couples. I'm told by our guide and the hotel manager that we are the only Americans in town. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. I take some pictures of the hotel now that it's light out.
|Lovely carving on door to our room|
|Restaurant building where we have breakfast|
|Our guide's license|
PEISI/PEPSI/PIZI PAGODA-Unrestored hilltop 4 entry pagoda with 4 sandstone buddha images with serene expressions facing the 4 points of the compass. One Buddha at the summit. Overgrown with weeds, plants, etc. Great views of surrounding fields and Koethaung Temple from the top.
|Sights on our way|
|View from the top of the hill|
|Sitting Buddha images|
|Ruins in Koethaung|
PHARAOUK-Maybe built during the reign of Meng Phalaung (1571-1593) Only this plinth remains. Enter through a narrow passage which leads to a central Buddha image. The outer wall has 29 identical earth touching Buddhas seated in niches and facing out in all directions.
|Inside Buddha image|
|One of the 29 outside identical Buddha images|
RATANAMANAUNG-Built in 1658 by King Sandathudamma. Bell shaped dome.
|Sima at Ratanamanaung|
RATANAMANAUNG MONASTERY-Across the street from the temple of the same name.
PITAKATAIKI-Small library of Buddhist scriptures built in 1591 by King Min Phaloun. Not a temple so you can keep your shoes on. Square shaped and built of stone. Outer walls decorated with flowers and geometrics.
|Porch with chair|
|Our new room #206|
|Bedroom has single and king beds|
|Sitting area has a small couch and chair|
|This part of the bathroom has a bathtub|
|Bathroom sink area|
|Separate room for the toilet|
|Our room now is on the left side almost to the end of this group of rooms. Our first room was the first one you see on the left so it was closer to reception and the restaurant.|
|Rahkine soup with chicken|
|Mixed vegetable salad|
SHITTHAUNG-name means "Temple of 80, 000 Buddha images" and the "Temple of Victory". Built 1535-1536 by King Min Bin as a result of his conquest of Bengal. Next to Andawthein Temple. A center bell shaped stupa with 4 smaller ones at the corners and many more surrounding them. Central hall with hundreds of Buddha statues. Layers of maze like corridors that go around the main hall. In these corridors are reliefs of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Devas, animals...... The outer corridor holds stone Buddhas. The inner corridor has reliefs of Arakan characters from hundreds of yrs. ago. Here you can see color because not exposed to the sun. Main prayer room has hundreds of Buddhas and elaborate paintings on the ceiling. Here I make a donation to help pay for lights. I even got a receipt!
|King Min Bin and his queens|
|Kinnari-couple-love scene inside Shitthaung|
|Meng-pa inside Shitthaung|
RATANAPON-name means"Pile of Jewels". A massive solid stupa said to have jewels and images enshrined inside but never found. Built in 1612 by King Min Khammoung. Nice example of dark, brick bell shaped style.
|Smaller stupas that surround Ratanapon|
HTUKKANTHEIN/DUKKANTHEIN-name means "Cross Beam Ordination Hall". Very famous temple. Designed as fortress temple. Built on raised ground with one entrance and small windows. Built in 1571 by King Min Phalaung. Interior chamber spirals clockwise past hundreds of stone figures and Buddhas until you reach the main Buddha in the main dome. While there we heard music. I hurry back to the entrance and have the pleasure of witnessing a procession honoring/celebrating a novitation ceremony.
LAYMYETHNA-One of the oldest temples in Mrauk U. Built in 1430 by King Min Saw Mon, the founder of the Mrauk U kingdom. Name means "4 faced pagoda" and is a rectangular sandstone structure. At the center of each side is a vaulted entrance that protrudes out of the main structure. On top of the temple's flat surface are 5 stupas. In the center is the main large bell shaped stupa topped with a mushroom shaped hti. Then in each of the 4 corners there is one smaller stupa. Inside there are many small Buddha images in the niches. There are 20 of them and then 8 larger stone images of Buddha. U Than says the number 28 is for the 28 Buddhas mentioned in the Buddhavamsa which is part of the Tripitaka.
|Lemyethna as seen from Harritaung Hill|
|I think this is Ratanapon seen from Harritaung Hill|
Dinner We decide to try MOE CHERRY. The guy in reception says it's just a few minutes walk. I say no way as we had passed it coming back from sightseeing. I remember it being more than a few minutes walk. We get a taxi at 7:30 pm and it takes us 7 minutes to get there in the taxi. We don't go fast as the roads in Mrauk U leave a lot to be desired. A good crows of people-a few tourists like us and a bunch of locals. We order cokes, Myanmar beer, small potatoes, BBQ prawn, small size BBQ fish. Our food comes with several side dishes-butter beans, rice, something I don't remember(whatever it was, it was good as we ate every last bite of all that we got!), and a mixed cabbage vegetable salad. Food was delicious and the service was great. A really good choice for dinner. Cost 17000k. Taxi round trip 5000k.
|Forgot what this was!|
|BBQ prawns and rice|
|Small size BBQ fish|
|Mixed cabbage vegetable salad|