Locations: Rakhine State - Mrauk U and Sittwe

Sittwe WaterfrontRakhine State lies along the north coast of the Bay of Bengal near the border with Bangladesh. The ease of sea communications brought not only Buddhism, but also Islam and the Hindu faiths to long thin strip of coast. The Rakhine State is also exposed to the hill tribes to the north who’s animist beliefs have further enhanced the character of the coastal Rakhine people. It is clear too that the mixed origins of the Rakhine have made the world’s most beautiful people.

The first Rakhine Kingdom was established in 146AD and numerous dynasties have ruled since in several capitals. The famous Mahamuni image was forged in the kingdom nearly 2,000 years ago. The last and greatest Rakhine capital lay at Mrauk U on the rocky plain intersected by ranges of low hills and numerous canals between the estuaries of the Laymyo and Kaladan Rivers, inland from the current coastal port of Sittwe. Mrauk U was ruled by powerful warlike kings who influence extended as far as the Ayeyarwaddy Delta in the east and India to the west. Like the kings of Bagan, they were enthusiastic builders and most of Mrauk U’s remaining temples were built in hewn stone during the 15th and 16th centuries. The style of  these temples is unlike the rest of Myanmar, and display a powerful character more like that of the magnificent temples of Angkor in Cambodia. This is because they were strongly built of stone which lends a sense of permanence, and because they served the dual purpose of religious homage and defense. To this day, beautiful stone sculptures fill the temple interiors, and candles brought by pilgrims lend a magical atmosphere to otherwise long dark passages. Villages of Mro, Khumi and Laythu peoples are all members of the Chin ethnic group and can be visited while travelling by boat on the Laymyo River just out of Mrauk U. The textiles of these people are both visually dynamic and technically well made.

The current Rakhine capital of Sittwe was founded on an island off the Kaladan River estuary, by General Morisson in 1826 at the close of the 1st Anglo-Myanmar War. It is now a thriving seaport and the town’s untidy harbour is always busy with the coming and going of fishing boats, and barges hauling in the harvest from the estuary.

The other but not the least jewel of Rakhine State is The Ngapali Beach. Backed by swaying plams and casuarinas, Ngapali Beach’s three kilometer long broad and pristine stretch of sand offers the most relaxing holiday to all visitors. Ngapali is not only the beach resort for the tourist, it is also the home of Rakhine fishermen. There are full of activities in the fishermen villages along the beach from dawn to late afternoon.


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