A visit to the ancient capital of the Arakan Empire
These are photos of our journey to the ‘lost’ city of Mrauk U, in western Burma. I say ‘lost’ because it is really quite off the map… First you fly to the provincial town of Sittwe on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, not too far from Bangladesh, and then you board a small boat to go upriver some 7 hours until you come to this amazing town of ancient temples in the middle of…well,…nowhere.
Mrauk U was the last royal capital of the Arakan Empire that flourished some 600 years ago, and is filled with temples and pagodas dating back to the 15th century. The most revered is Shittaung Pagoda, built to comemmorate the defeat of the Portuguese back in 1535. It is famous for its amazing collection of 80,000 Buddha figures.
Unlike Bagan, home to hundreds of towering temples and pagodas in central Burma, Mrauk U is still a functioning town. So, a visit here is really like turning back the centuries.
Enjoy scenes along the river as we wend our way up to Mrauk U, explore the market and town, and visit the centuries-old temples with a few human interest shots included as well. Do note our trusty politicians posing with Burmese heroine Aung San Su Kyi.
After a few days of Arakanese adventures, we reverted to true form and found our way back to paradise: Ngapali Beach—one of the great unknown, untouched beaches left in the world. Not a jet ski in sight!