One of Myanmar’s significant archaeological sites, Mrauk U mesmerizes with over 700 temple ruins that rise gently from lush tropical hills. The charm of the ruins is how alive they seem, tucked between misty streams, rolling countryside and pastoral villages. Farmers and goat shepherds accept the ruins as a part of the land, incorporating the crumbling temples among their vegetable gardens with ease.
In the 15th century, Mrauk U was the capital of the ancient Arakanese Kingdom and greatly wealthy as a major trading port with Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Situated along the Bay of Bengal near Bangladesh, the Arakanese Kingdoms have been on the crossroads of trading routes and different cultures from East and West since 200 AD.
Subsequently, influences from the European countries, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia have greatly contributed to its flourishing civilizations. Two earthquakes, a conquest by the Burmese King Bodawpaya and benign disregard by British colonization however have left Mrauk U a quietly beautiful town.
Dutch traveller Gautier Schouten who visited Arakan 1660 wrote:
“As we ascended sufficiently high up the mountain we could decry the city of Arakan and the golden roof of the palace, which shone magnificiently in the rays of the sun. Here and there, both on the mountain and in the valleys the eye fell on many pagodas, which made the view most enchanting. To the other side lay our settlement and our Residence, with lakes, fish-ponds, orchards, and country houses. On the opposite side of the mountain was a descent into a lovely country which in the far distance was seen to be encircled by yet other mountains dotted with townships, villages and beautiful fields, indeed, it would be difficult to imagine a more entrancing landscape.”