MRAUK-U (80 kilometers or five hours by boat from Sittway) was the capital of the Arakanese kingdom between the 15th to the 18th century, and boasts more 1,500 ancient pagodas. It is where the Rakhine kings built their palaces and ruled over their people. Located on the banks of the Shwenatpyin Tributary of the Kaladan River, Mrauk-U was established by King Min Saw Mun in 1530 and today it is known for Hindu-influenced temples and murals.

Worth checking out are the ruins of the ancient palaces walls; the stupa of Andawthein Phato (with unique stone carvings and floral designs); Htokekanthein Pahto (built from rock by King Phalaungmin and known for its interesting stone sculptures); Saka-man-aung (a tall attenuated stupa) and Yadanabon Zedi Pagoda. Inside the Theindawgyi Pagoda are paintings and statues of courtiers and dancers with elaborate clothes and hairstyles. Inside the old palaces wall is an archeological museum. The main sights are Shittthaung Pagodas, Ananda Sandra Pillar, Andaw Thein temple, Yadanarpon temple, Dukkanthein or Htoke Kan Thein, Koe Thaung Pagodas, Pitakataik (or) the Library, Five Victory Pagodas, and the Palace Site.

Myauk-U Archaeological Area and Monuments were nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Capital city of the first Arakanese Kingdom, the site measures 7 by 6 kilometers and contains some 200 Buddhist monuments (temples, stupas, monasteries, etc.) mostly built in the 15th and 16th centuries AD. Located at the junction of the deltaic plain and the Arakanese mountains, the site is an exceptional example of the cleaver use of natural features (hill ranges, waterways, marshes) for fortification. A network of rivers provides easy access to the sea. The religious monuments in various states of conservation and maintenance, have no equivalent in the region. the monuments, particularly several fortified temples, are mostly built in well dressed stone, including skillful vaulting over geometrically complex spaces. Impressive decoration includes outstanding examples of stone carving and sculpture. The Myauk-u kingdom had an important rôle in the history of trade and warfare in the Bay of Bengal, and was the seat of intense cultural and religious interaction between Buddhism and Islam through the Bengali sultanates, between Buddhism and Christianity through the Portuguese. [Source: Department of Archaeology of Myanmar]

History of Mrauk U

Julian Hattem wrote in The Guardian: “When time began there lived a lonely monkey who met a peacock, who laid an egg from which was born a mighty prince who built a city on the spot of his birth and called it “monkey egg”. Whatever the myths around its creation, by the 15th century, Mrauk U (Monkey Egg) was the capital of a powerful kingdom and one of the richest cities in Asia. [Source: Julian Hattem,, The Guardian, June 11, 2017]

“Up to the 18th century, it was a vital trading port for rice, ivory, elephants, tree sap and deer hide, cotton, slaves, horses, spices and textiles from India, Persia and Arabia. In the centuries since, it crumbled into a backwater town in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state. But the city where Christians, Muslims and Buddhists once lived in harmony can still be glimpsed in its hundreds of ruined temples, fortifications and storehouses – mostly ignored for more than 100 years.

“From the 15th to 18th centuries, Mrauk U was called “the golden city” by European travellers from the Netherlands and Portugal. Samurai from Japan stood as guards for the king. Many of the larger temples from that golden age remain intact. The Shitthaung temple is said to hold 80,000 stone statues of the Buddha. The nearby Koe Thaung temple is even larger, with 90,000 Buddha images carved into three stories of stone.

Mrauk U and King Narameikhla (ruled 1404-1434)

Mrauk U was a maritime kingdom situated to the west of Lower Myanmar on the Bay of Bengal. King Narameikhla (ruled 1404-1434), or Min Saw Mon, established Mrauk U as the capital of the last unified Arakanese Kingdom in 1430, after 24 years of exile in Bengal. He regained control of Arakan with military assistance from the Sultanate of Bengal. The Bengalis who came with him formed their own settlements in the region. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Narameikhla ceded some territory to the Sultan of Bengal and recognized his sovereignty over the areas. In recognition of his kingdom's vassal status, the kings of Arakan received Islamic titles, despite being Buddhists, and legalized the use of Islamic coins from Bengal within the kingdom. Narameikhla minted his own coins with Burmese characters on one side and Persian characters on the other. Arakan remained subordinate to Bengal up until 1531.

Even after gaining independence from the Sultans of Bengal, the Arakanese kings continued the custom of maintaining Muslim titles. The kings compared themselves to Sultans and fashioned themselves after Mughal rulers, despite remaining Buddhist. They also continued to employ Muslims in prestigious positions within the royal administration.

King Narameikhla (reigned 1404-34) was the founder and first king of the Mrohaung dynasty in Arakan and the son of the son of King Rajathu (reigned 1397-1401). When Arakan became the scene of fighting between rival powers in the 15th century, Narameikhla was forced in the first year of his reign to flee to Bengal, where he became a vassal to King Ahmad Shah of Gaur. With the aid of Ahmad Shah's successor he regained control of Arakan in 1430. In 1433 he built at a new capital at Mrauk U, which remained the capital of Arakan until the 18th century. As a nominal vassal of the Muslim kings of Gaur, Narameikhla employed Muslim titles in his coins and inscriptions, though he and his subjects were Buddhists. He was succeeded by his son, Ali Khan (reigned 1434-59), who had adopted a Muslim name. [Source: Myanmar Travel Information]

Mrauk U: a Great Trading City

Eventually reaching a size of 160,000 in the early 17th century, Mrauk U served as the capital of the Mrauk U kingdom and its 49 kings until the conquest of the kingdom by the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty in 1784. Due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, Mrauk U developed into an important regional trade hub, acting as both a back door to the Burmese hinterland and also as an important port along the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal. It became a transit point for goods such as rice, ivory, elephants, tree sap and deer hide from Ava in Burma, and of cotton, slaves, horses, cowrie, spices and textiles from Bengal, India, Persia and Arabia. Alongside Pegu and later Syriam, it was one of the most important ports in Burma until the 18th century.[citation needed]

The city also traded with non-Asian powers such as Portugal and then the VOC of the Netherlands. The VOC established trading relations with the Arakanese in 1608 after the Portuguese fell in favour due to the lack of loyalty of Portuguese mercenaries, such as Filipe de Brito e Nicote in the service of the Arakanese king. The VOC established a permanent factory in Mrauk U in 1635, and operated in Arakan until 1665. Much of Mrauk U's historical description is drawn from the writings of Friar Sebastian Manrique, a Portuguese Augustinian monk who resided in Mrauk U from 1630 to 1635.

At its zenith, Mrauk U was the center of a kingdom which stretched from the shores of the Ganges river to the western reaches of the Ayeyarwaddy River. According to popular Arakanese legend, there were 12 'cities of the Ganges' which constitute areas around the borders of present-day Bangladesh which were governed by Mrauk U, including areas in the Chittagong Division. During that period, its kings minted coins inscribed in Arakanese, Kufic and Bengali. The inclusion of Kufic and Bengali were not that the Mrauk U kings had embraced Islam, but in order to gain legitimacy over the mainly Islamic Bengalis who were subjects.

Archaeology and Conservation at Mrauk U

Julian Hattem wrote in The Guardian: “Archaeologists are racing to survey and protect those sites, hoping to secure a spot for Mrauk U on Unesco’s world heritage list, following in the footsteps of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and the pyramids of Egypt [Source: Julian Hattem,, The Guardian, June 11, 2017].

“Backed by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan – who said Mrauk U is “arguably the greatest physical manifestation of Rakhine’s rich history and culture” – an international commission released an interim report this year urging Myanmar to nominate the city for world heritage status and since then enthusiasm has grown exponentially. The process will take some years but, along the way, the government is hoping to transform Mrauk U from a forgotten ghost town into a global tourist attraction that draws hundreds of thousands each of visitors a year.

“A team led by U Nyein Lwin, director of the National Museum at Mrauk U, is trying to turn that into a reality. But the undertaking is enormously complex. “We need a lot of help,” he said. “Time is very short.” “He and his team need to do rigorous analysis of Mrauk U’s current population and forecast its growth, so that future developments such as new irrigation lines do not interfere with the ruins. Financial assistance has been pledged by Italy, Australia and China, but more outside support is needed, he says. “U Nyein Lwin and his team are in the midst of creating a registry of all of the ruins that remain in Mrauk U. When finished, they may chart as many as 3,000. But the town is a long way from seeing tourists wandering its streets.

The restoration work of the Myanmar Department of Archaeology at Mrauk-U has be called questionable. According to the Myanmar Times in January 2016, the Mrauk-U Heritage Trust has raised the alarm over the rebuilding of historic pagodas without regard for the original design, abandoning any pretence of historical authenticity. This follows on the heels of the reported destruction of part of the heritage zone some years ago for the construction of a railway.

Tourism at Mrauk U

Julian Hattem wrote in The Guardian: “To reach the complex, a traveller needs to take an hour-long flight from Yangon, 750 kilometers away, and then spend several hours snaking up the Kaladan river. Only about 4,000 foreign tourists a year make the journey. The temples at Bagan attract 70 times as many. The temples of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, receive more than two million visitors annually. An airport being built outside Mrauk U will make it more accessible. But it could take years to complete.Tourism was on the rise in 2010 and 2011, tour guides say. But it dropped off in 2012, when ethnic violence rocked the region. Some aspects of Mrauk U’s history remain captive to modern-day ethnic conflict. [Source: Julian Hattem,, The Guardian, June 11, 2017]

Mrauk U, now a backwater, was a vital trading port until the 18th century and the capital of a powerful kingdom, one of Asia’s richest cities. “A grand mosque of the 15th century, known as the Santikan mosque, once stood to the north-east of town, in an area now dominated by rice paddies, but many local people have never heard of it and all that remains above ground is a small hill, scattered with stones that may once have been bricks, interspersed with cow dung in the hot sun.

“And just maybe, as Annan stated, the efforts will help to solve a brutal ethnic conflict that has divided Rakhine state between nationalist Buddhists and the Rohingya, a group of ethnic Muslims stuck in a refugee limbo in the state. Rights groups claim the Rohingya are the target of an ethnic cleansing campaign that has lasted for years. In recent months, Burmese soldiers have been accused of raping and killing civilians indiscriminately.“If such a status was granted, this could eventually serve to boost tourism to Rakhine, and thus help strengthen the state’s economy,” the commission said.

“Local people hope that Mrauk U will become internationally renowned, drawing in much-needed cash to one of the poorest states in Myanmar. A stronger economy, in turn, may tamp down the simmering tensions some Buddhists feel towards the Rohingya, and remind them of a cosmopolitan history where Buddhists, Muslims and Christians lived in peace. “What’s important for the international community to know is that Mrauk U is immensely important to the Rakhine from a cultural and historic point of view,” said Christopher Carter, the UN’s senior adviser for Rakhine state. “Kofi Annan’s recommendation of Mrauk U as a candidate for world heritage status was greeted very warmly by even the hardest-line nationalists.”“

Shitthaung Stupa

Shitthaung Stupa (Mrauk-U) is the most famous building at Mrauk-U. A fortress-like religious structure built by the Rakhine king Minpargyi is 1535, it purportedly contains 80,000 Buddhist hair and tooth relics. The shape of the stupa is different from other stupas found in Myanmar: enclosed on three sides by wall, the stupa includes a maze-like structure containing numerous Buddha images, of different shapes and sizes.

The design of the stupa is influenced by Hindu architecture. Enshrined in the stupa is a three-foot-high gold Buddha surrounded by 108 smaller gold images, 108 silver images, 108 images made from nine kinds of gem, 12 gold statues depicting 12 Rakhine kings, and 80,000 Buddha figures carved in the walls. Traditional Rakhime boat races are held at the annual Skithaung Stupa Pagoda Festival. Shitthuang is sometimes written as Skithaung. In ancient times the stupa was called Minbargyi.

Shitthaung or "Temple of the 80,000 Buddhas" located about half a mile to the north of the palace site and was built by one of the most powerful kings of the Mrauk U Dynasty. According to records on inscriptions as King Minbin who reigned from 1513 to 1553. The king built this fortress-temple after repulsing a Portuguese attack on the City of Mrauk U. The skill and art displayed in its construction and ornamentation are remarkable. The curious maze-like layout of this pagoda induce some foreigners remark that Shitthaung Pagoda was built alike a fortress. The real purpose of the pagoda was for prayer, rituals of initiation and some royal ceremonies, which were usually held secretly.

The stupa was constructed six feet thick of solid sandstone and like "rock cave tunnel". No mortar was used in the construction and stones were connected with stone brackets. It is believed that 84,000 of the Buddha's relics with the same number of the Lord's images are enshrined in it. People who entered the tunnels of the temple felt that they were actually inside an endless tunnel. The pagodas had been built by one thousand architects and workmen for a year. The central pagoda is160 feet long, 124 feet wide and 86 feet high. On the north and south walls, at regular intervals, are circular, turret-like pagodas. There is one big one and 14 smaller ones on the north and a bigger one and seventeen smaller ones on the south. Along the other two inner galleries are hundreds of Buddha images of various sizes.

Shittaung Pillar (on the northern entrance of the Shittaung Pagoda) is well-known and is believed to have been brought from the ancient Indian-Buddhist city Vesali to Mrauk U. It was placed in the pagoda by King Minbin in 1535 A.D. The pillar was destroyed during the World War II. Later it was renovated. The original pillar stood 10 feet high and each side is 2 feet 4 inches wide in surface. Three faces have Sanskrit Inscriptions and the other one was badly damaged. The pillar was made from red sandstone and decorated with double lotus petal motif at all the eight corners. The ancient petal pattern designs of the Mrauk U period can be seen on this pillar.

Royal Palace of Mrauk U

Royal Palace of Mrauk U was surrounded by three wall encirclements and this is mostly what you see today. When Mong Saw Mon started buildings the palace, underground canals were first dug, then stone walls were erected and finally the three hills were leveled down. Some of the canals that carried off the water to the Thinghanadi creek to the south of the palace can still be found.

Before visiting any other place in Mrauk U priority should be given to the ruins of the inner palace city where the Royal palace once stood magnificently. The area of the whole palace was 1.2 square miles and the walls were originally made of brick. King Mong Ba Gree reinforced the palace walls with a new structure of stone in 1531. The height of the walls today averages 12 feet and thickness runs about 7 feet. Three sites of the palace are guarded with moats. The moats in the east and west were man-made, whereas the southern one is natural Thinghanadi Creek. The Royal flotilla used to be manned in this very creek. The northern side had buildings for the Queens and also includes the strategically important Haridaung Hill.

The inner enclosure of the palace had all the important structures. From here all the 48 Kings of the Mrauk U Dynasty reigned with pomp and grandeur. The Golden Palace had roofs with five tiers supported on tall, thick pillars, gilded with gold on a coat of vermillion. The roof was plated with glistening sheets to copper that would reflect the crimson rays of the sun in the early morning, transforming the palace into a fairytale palace awash in gold.

The King's Palace was essentially a complex of many separate buildings. The King and his attendants stayed in the palace proper whereas the queens, princes and princesses were assigned separate buildings within the palace city. To the west of the Royal family's quarters there were the quarters for the Duty Officer and from there proceeding to the south was the quarter of the Port Officer.

The Thinghanadi creek running across the city offered easy communication with the Lemro river in the east. Agricultural products and handicrafts from the Lemro made their way along the river into the five central markets of Mrauk U. Lying side by side with Anuma Lakey south-west of Zina Banaung Pagada is the Laksaykan Lake. This scenic lake is about 100 acres wide and its embankment connecting the two hill ranges has two 12 feet high gates. The western gate. know as Laksaykan gate is 24 feet long. 17 feet high and 8 feet wide. In case of an enemy raid from the south of the palace. This gate was to flood the lower plains in the north to defer the enemy.


Pitakataik (close to Htupayon Pagoda and south of Shinkite wall) was a library built by King Min Phalaung. It was square in plan with an entrance passage to the east like others pagoda in Mrauk U. Built entirely with stone, the outer walls are decorated with ornate floral and geometric design. It is said that there were 33 Pitakataiks built in Mrauk U. The little library or Pitakataik. The Repository for the Buddhist scriptures was built in 1591 also by king Min Phalaung.

The Pitakataik measures only 14 feet from east to west, 10 feet from north to south and is only 9 feet in height. Built entirely of stone there are lovely designs on the outer walls making it look like a tiny jeweled casket shaped like a blooming lotus. There were 48 libraries in Mrauk U but only this is the one that has been preserved, though it is sometimes obscured by thickets of bushes and partly covered by moss and weeds which flourish in the 200 inches of annual rainfall in the region. This library is reputed to have housed 30 sets of the Buddhist Tipitaka which King Narapatigyi (1638-1645) received from Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately it acquired an unpleasant appellation due to its dark windowless interior. The library is also known as Khraung Kaik Library from name of the city wall which is close to the the library. If you have difficulty in finding this library ask for the Htupayon Pagoda as it is just north of this pagoda.

Mrauk U Museum

Mrauk U Museum (near the palace site) displays some old artifacts of the Vesali, Launggret and Mrauk U periods. The bronze Buddha icons of Rakhine are exquisite in design. Various inscribed stone inscriptions in Sanskrit, Rakhine and Arabic are also displayed. Votive tablets, images of Krishna, Vishnu and Bodhisattvas, dvarapala, stone htis (stone umbrella of pagodas), lintels coins, musical instruments and ceramic-wares are also on display.

Highlights include a 15th century stone Wunti God Image, a part of 8th century stone pillars from Stupas in the Watha Li period; pieces of a stone 15th century Vishnu image, Wetha Li coins from 4th to 8th century, and stone-sculptures from the Mrauk U period. Household appliances in Mrauk U period include a 15th century from Mrauk U period and the glazed floor tiles. You can also find stone-sculptures such as God of Earth and the Goddess Wathoundarei and Wathoundara. There is a replica of Ananda Sandra stone inscription carved in Danyawaddy alphabets from the 8th century. The inscription tells us about Watha Li King Ananda Sandra and his ancestors with 65 verses. Stone inscription of Purain Ah Song-Taung (1430), Wara-Dhamma-Yar-Zar (1618) and An-Taw-Thein (1596) are also there to be studied.

Pagodas in Mrauk-U

Dukkanthein also called as Htukanthein or Htoekanthein. stands on a hill which is about 30 feet in height. Built under King Minphalaung in 1571, this pagoda has a flat surface and sort of resembles a drum. Like most of the ancient monuments in Mrauk U, Dukkanthein was built with sandstones and layers of bricks over the roof. The measurement of the temple is 190 feet from north to south and 200 feet from east to west. It has stone stairways about 8 inches broad in the east and south sides. These stairways measuring 106 feet are built of massive stonewall on the north. east and south. The west one which is slightly convex is connected to an oblong chamber.

The pagoda entrance on the east side, closer to the south-east corner, leads to a long vaulted passage which spirals up in two tiers till it reaches the central chamber. The superstructure—a bell-shaped dome on receding terraces—is similar to the one on Shitthaung, but here a tall square arch is provided on the east side to admit light into the central chamber. The inner chambers and passages of the temple are constructed with well fitting and cemented stones. The pagoda is well-known for the stone sculptures in the vaulted passages. especially the figures of seated ladies, with different hairstyles, offering lotus buds to the Buddha. Traditionally it is said that there are sixty-four kinds of hairstyle and all the figures are of the wives of noblemen. Besides. on both sides of the entire passage, niches of 1½ feet wide, 1 foot deep, and 2 feet high are carved at regular intervals of 20 feet in the wall and each contains a stone image of the Buddha in sitting posture. There are one hundred and forty-six niches along the passage.

Lemyathnar Pagoda (150 feet to the northwest of the Dukkhanthein Pagoda) or "the Four-Faced Pagoda" was built by King Minsawmon, the first king of Mrauk-U Dynasty, in 1430. It is one of the five pagodas built at the beginning of the establishment of the city. It is a square structure. with a long protruding portal towards each cardinal point. The interior room is octagonal. In the center of the latter there is an octahedral column intended to support the circular tower erected over the center of the roof. Over each of the four corners of the terrace a smaller circular stupa was built. Each side of the square of the shrine measures 55 feet; the portals are 13 feet broad and protrude 17 feet into the platform. The central tower is circular and has the shape of a dome. with a circumference of 80 feet at the base and is 70 feet high. There are 28 Buddha images as mentioned in the Sambuddha scripture.

Andaw Pagoda

Andaw Pagoda (86 feet northeast of the Shittaung Pagoda in Mrauk U) means the “Pagoda Enshrining the Tooth-relic of Buddha.” Min Hla Raza was the original builder of this pagoda, in 1521. Due to some damage, the King of Mrauk U, Minrazagyi reconstructed parts of in 1596. The central tower of the shrine contains the tooth-relic of Buddha. It was originally obtained from Sri Lanka by King Minbin (1534-1542 A.D.)

The shrine is an octagonal structure made of pure sandstone, with two internal concentric passages. Fifteen small circular pagodas built of bricks stand on the platforms of south, north and west of the shrine. On the east, there is a prayer hall. which has an entrance on the east, north and south sides. A stonewall divides the prayer hall from the outer court. The east facade of the shrine measures 31 feet from north to south and is only 14 feet high from the ground to the roof. On each side of the entrance are three niches which get into the wall—which are 6 feet high, 1.2 feet deep and two feet wide—which contain stone images of Buddha. Passing through the vaulted passage a gallery opens on either side. Each is 3 feet 7 inches wide and 9 feet high.

The gallery runs in an octagonal shape around the central chamber; each of the outer sides of the passage measures 20 feet and each contains a row of four niches with a semicircular arch 2 feet above the ground, and a second row of smaller niches at the height of 7 inches, four to each side, which hold stone images of Buddha. From the inner side of the gallery a vaulted passage leads from north, south, east and west to the inner chamber, which is also octagonal in shape. At the center stands an eight-cornered stone pillar 40 feet in circumference. It supports the roof.

Neither light nor air can penetrate into the shrine except through the front entrance. The roof is about ten feet thick. Over each of the eight corners of the shrine stands a smaller pagoda. At the center. there stands a large pagoda. Andaw Pagoda was wholly constructed with stone blocks. It stands on a small square-shaped hillock. This hillock includes the shrine and pagoda and measures 228 feet from east to west and 145 feet from north to south and is 42 feet in height from ground to top. While Shittaung features three square passages inside the temple. Andaw Thein has two passages around an eight side pillar. which supports the roof.

Sanda Muni Pagoda

Sanda Muni Pagoda is located in Bandoola Monastery of Mrauk U. It is said that Gautama Buddha came to Mrauk U and from that time on people started to believe in Buddhism King Sanda Thuriya reigned over the Rakhine territory when Gautama Buddha came to Mrauk U. The king begged the Buddha for images as a symbol representing the real Buddha. The Buddha made four Muni Buddha images which are: 1) Maha Myat Muni (located at Mandalay); 2) Shwebonthar Muni (located at Pyay); 3) Zalun Pyaydawpyan (located at Zalun); and 4) Maha Muni (located at Sittwe). There was more jewelry and gold left. so he made 5 more images known as 1) Sanda Muni, 2) Kuja Muni, 3) Sakkyar Muni, 4) Deva Muni and 5) Sula Muni. These five images are also known as Maha Kyan Images. The Maha Muni was surrounded by these five images.

When King Saw Mon. he moved to Mrauk U as the capital. He took the Sanda Muni image along with him to Mrauk U. In 1852. lower Myanmar fell under the rulings of the British colony. The British took all the bronze images to melt and turn these into weapons. Since the people wear afraid that the Sanda Muni might be turned into weapons. they covered the image with concrete and left in the Bandoola Monastery. The British thought that this image was made of concrete and left it where it was.

In April 1988, Sayadaw Ashin Sattkapalar was cleaning the floor in front of the image and suddenly an eye dropped down. The monk saw that the inner part was not made of concrete but of bronze metal. A month later the covered concrete of the Image was torn down and the real Sanda Muni Buddha Image was shown to public. The size of the image is 4 feet 10 inches high and 4 feet and 2 inches in width. This Buddha image became more and more popular with the locals.

Koethaung Pagoda

Koethaung Pagoda (400 meters north of the Pisei Hill) means “90,000 Pagoda,” which probably signified the number of Buddha images it was supposed to contain. The pagoda stands on a plain and is surrounded by paddy fields. The upper tiers of the pagoda have disappeared. The remaining lowest tier is about 30 feet high including earth foundation. King Mintaikkha who was the son of the King Minbin, built Koethaung Pagoda in 1553 A.D.

This pagoda is the biggest among the pagodas in Mrauk-U. It measures 230 feet from east to west and 250 feet from north to south. The Koethaung Pagoda is very similar to Shitthaung Pagoda. They are of the same type from the historical and archaeological viewpoints. This tradition of donation of religious buildings by royal families came down from the royal ancestors.

The pagoda was constructed of massive stonewalls and terraces. The small one hundred and eight pagodas, all made of sandstone, were built on the terraces. The entrance to the pagoda on the east side leads to a long vaulted passage which spirals round the tiers until it reaches the central chamber. The construction of the Koethaung Pagoda resembles a rock cave tunnel. The main tower above the pagoda is octagonal in shape. It is believed that there may be treasures of sculptures. artworks and even valuable jewels buried underneath the ruins. The platform is scattered here and there with vestiges of pagodas. images and many other such paraphernalia.

Legend says that the pagoda was demolished and hit by a thunderbolt because the King Mintaikkha built the Koethaung Pagoda (ninety thousand images). which exceeded in number to the images of his father, King Minbin's Shitthaung Pagoda (eighty thousand images). In truth, Koethaung was built in six months time on the advice of his astrologers. In building this pagoda workmen used both bricks and stones. Other pagodas were mostly built of pure sandstone, which had to be carried from the Rakhine-coasts. The six-month's time was not long enough to collect the required number of blocks of stone. As a consequence. Koethaung was inferior in quality in materials as well as in workmanship compared to Shitthaung Pagoda.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: Myanmar Travel Information, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, The Irrawaddy, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP,,, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books and other publications.

Last updated August 2020

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