Mrauk U in the Rakhine state of western Myanmar is a lesser known destination, but one that charms and amazes all who visit. East of the Kaladan River on the banks of one of its minor tributaries and surrounded by hills, this is a naturally beautiful and culturally fascinating part of the country.
From the 15th to the 18th century, Mrauk U was the capital of the mighty Arakan kingdom, its prestige reflected in the grandeur and scale of its structures. The area is home to hundreds of temples and pagodas hewn from stone and brick. Originally they were mistaken for forts due to their thick bunker-style walls, which were made to withstand the wild Rakhine winds.
Some of the bigger and more well known temples include the Shittaung Pagoda, built to commemorate the victory of King Min Bin over the 12 provinces of Bengal, and the Htukkanthein temple. However, there are so many to explore and part of the joy of visiting this area is winding your way through them and discovering your favourite.
This impressive archaeological site is spread out across villages and rice fields, and many of the sites are used as places of worship for the villagers. In the early morning the temples are cloaked in fog and come evening, spectacular sunsets make this one of Myanmar’s most atmospheric sites.