Monday, July 28, 2014

MARCH 5, 2014: 15 SITES PLUS SUNSET


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


     We have the same driver from yesterday and our guide U Than waiting for us at 8:00 am.  U Than says he wants to show us some popular sites/temples and some lesser visited ones.  That's fine with us as we figure he knows best.   This is the order of what we saw in the morning today.

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























     KOETHAUNG-Name means "Temple of 90,000 Buddha images".  Built between 1553 by King Min Dikkha.  Largest temple in Mrauk U.  Looks like a fortress.  Wanted to outdo his father King Min Bin's Shittaung Pagoda of 80, 000 images.  Partially restored.  Stone walls and terraces.  Maze like interior.  Surrounded by 5 receding terraces upon which are small stupas.  At the center of Koethaung is a large circular bell shaped stupa.  Passageway through the interior leads to central chamber.  Walls adorned with thousands of small images of Buddha.  At regular intervals there are larger images of Buddha seated on pedestals in the Bhumisparsha mudra-calling Earth to witness.




















So adorable!









Sitting Buddha images

Ruins in Koethaung












Stupas-right section









   












     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







     MONGKHONG SHWE DU-Built 1629.  I have no other info on this in my notes.  Ornamentation appears to be found only at entrance to the temple.





























     SAKYAMANAUNG-Built in 1629.    Brightly painted half kneeling guardians with swords.

























   


















     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.











     Anawma Image-Built in honor of Princess Anawzar in 1501.








     LAUNG BWANN BRAUK-Built in 1526 by King Bwann Khaung Raza. The walls have remains of colorful mosaic like design.












     We get back to the hotel by 12 noon.  U Than says he will pick us back up at 3:30 pm.  This time is for a rest/break.  We go to our new room #206 and it is HUGE!  It would be great if there was a pool at this hotel but I am tired and my foot that had the splinter in it is hurting.  I clean the foot, put more antiseptic on it and a new bandaid.  It looks ok-no sign of infection.  We have a light lunch at the hotel of Rakhine soup with chicken, fried mixed vegetable, tomato salad, Chang beer, and a coke.  Cost 7500k.  Food was good.  I decide to take a nap while my husband goes to explore the town.   Stupid me-I should have told him to take the camera with him for some pictures of the town which I never got.  I had thought I did but only realized too late that I hadn't taken any of the town.
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

Tomato salad

Mixed vegetable salad
     Pick up 3:30 pm.  A full afternoon ahead.  I show U Than my e-mail with One Stop where we discuss sightseeing Mahamuni and Wethali as our guide was under the impression we were only doing sites near town.  We will do those 2 places tomorrow morning.

     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!






Outside view











Colorful ceiling















King Min Bin and his queens



























Kinnari-couple-love scene inside Shitthaung



Meng-pa inside Shitthaung






















     ANDAWTHEIN-name means "Tooth Shrine".  It contains a tooth relic of the Buddha from Sri Lanka brought back by King Raza II.  Built 1598 by King Min Haza Gyi.   A prayer hall from which you enter the temple.  A center Buddha and a circular vault with stone Buddhas.















Garuda





      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.






























Ceiling









   
     

     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.
















     HARRITAUNG HILL-SUNSET  We have a not too difficult climb/walk up.  Because it's hazy the sunset is not very good.  There is a handful of others with us.  You do have nice views of other temples/pagodas/stupas.  We are back to the hotel by 6:30 pm.  We are going to do a sunrise per my request tomorrow.  U Than will meet us at 5:30 am.  It's a short walk and then a climb to the top where we will watch the sun rise.  Looking forward to that.







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.
Our taxi


Our table


Forgot what this was!

BBQ prawns and rice

Small size BBQ fish

Mixed cabbage vegetable salad

Butter beans
Small potatoes






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