Mrauk U The Forgotten Kingdom
A hilltop temple towers over village houses.
Taking a short cut through the archeological zone.
Village gardens surround the temples.
Classic Buddhist design - smaller stupas in a concentric ring around a larger stupa.
Ordinary village activities - herding cattle - amongst the temples.
Smoke from the evening cooking fires spirals around the stupas.
Cross this threshing area to reach yet another temple.
Like many temples at Mrauk U, Shitte-Thaung was built on a hill and looks like a fortress. The temple has a main stupa with four smaller stupas, one in each corner. Inside the temple is a main prayer hall containing many Buddha images. A long dark passageway, said to be one hundred metres long, leads from this room into the inner temple. It contains many sculpted figures depicting ordinary Rakhine people as well as scenes from the Jakarta tales (stories of the Buddha’s life). There are also scenes of Hindu deities including Indra on three elephants. At the centre of the temple is the room that contains Shitte-Thaung’s principal Buddha – three metres high and made of gold.
It is very dark inside and a very long corridor spirals to an inner chamber. I felt like I was circling the innards of an ammonite. There are 140 arched recesses in the walls, each enshrining a stone image of the Buddha. Surrounding the Buddhas are sculpted figures of ordinary people said to have sponsored the construction of the temple. The passageway ends in a five metre high inner chamber shaped like a dome. Daylight from above illuminates the Buddha figure.
Koe-Thaung - the largest temple in Mrauk U.
Rows of stupas surround the temple.
Buddhas line the inner passageways.
A few of Koe-Thaung's 90,000 Buddhas.
And a few more.
Stupas line the terraces.
Koe-Thaung is surrounded by farm land
But temples aren’t the only attraction to Mrauk U. The village itself presents a kaleidoscope of ordinary people going about their daily chores. You don’t need to see the friezes in the temples – you can watch rural Myanmar unfold before your eyes. A family cooking their evening meal in the lane outside their house, an old woman curled up on a bench at the end of her garden watching the world go by, a woman drawing water from a well – all are indelible scenes.
Ready to weigh okra.
Preparing the sale.
Exchanging goods and money.