By Hla Win
The western Myanmar which looks like a crescent land along the coastal area is Rakhine State. It possesses the blue sea and green forests with streams and rivers networks. Rakhine State is famous for its rich historical and cultural legacy having been an independent country for thousands of years. It has passed through the sweet and bitter history for centuries.
According to UNESCO, there are two kinds of culture. They are tangible culture and intangible culture. Tangible culture is the religious and monarchical buildings that we can see and touch such as stupas and temples, churches and mosques, moats and palace walls and so on. Intangible culture is customs and traditions which the people stick to for thousands of years with a pivot between West and East civilization.
From October to March is the best time to visit with temperature from 22 decree Celsius to 35 degree Celsius. The common places to visit are Sittway, MarukU and Ngapali beach with good and favorable infrastructures and services. People are mostly honest and pretty friendly depending on their happiness in life. The western culture influencing on the local culture to some extent, the people wear both traditional and western clothes, especially for townspeople. But, mostly the people are traditional.
Built Sittway also known as Akyab in 1827, Sittway is located by the sea and it has a beautiful view point park for relaxing in the Bay of Bengal. The places to visit in Sittway are Lawkanandar pagoda, Lawkachantha Buddha image, Kandawgyi lake and Ye Kyaw Thu monastery. The national museum is for those who have interests for the cultural objects and old artifacts. Conducting the urbanization by the Scottish people, they based on three main roads like Mawlamyine.
Built MraukU in 1430 AD, it was the capital of the last Arakan dynasty. Being a cultural and historical center, it attracts the tourists to come and see. The views and architectural designs of Mrauk U is different from Bangan’s, having linkages with India. But they created their own architectural designs even though they had linkages with India in the medieval period.
The most important architectural designs are Chitthuang, Htokkanthein and Kothaung pagodas. Cambodia is the top tourist destination in the world having two world heritage sites such as Angkor archeological park dated back to 12th century and Preah Vihear temple dated back to 11th century. The government started conservations over MraukU stupas providing 124 Millions ks in January, 2015 but it must be internationally systematic conservations.
According to the legend, Thandwe was built before Dannyawaddy period, but actually it was an ancient city. After the British force annexed Arakan, the town was upgraded with modern characteristics. One of the most beautiful beaches in the world called Ngapali lies near Thandwe. The beautiful sea with background mountains is attracting the visitors for recreation. It has beautiful and modern facilities to be convenient for the tourists.
I would like to point out water-based tourism in the area in Ponnagyun, Yathedaung and Sittway. Boating is one of the water-based tourism. Tourists can see things through the waterways. They enjoy boating seeing natural beauty in the local area. A special area in Ponnagyun township is Tawpyarchaung, a beautiful stream with natural beauty and green forest. Inlay lake in Shan State is its rival. Tourists can enjoy seeing the local tribes like Mro and Kami and trekking in the beautiful mountains. Gutaung Buddha images in Muse Kyun in Yathedaung township is one of the ancient heritages in Rakhine. They are on the way to Tawpyarchaung, a beautiful stream.
As the ancient city, Mrauk U has more ancient pagodas. Among them, I want to present about Ratanamanaung pagoda which was slightly damaged by the recent earthquake in Myanmar.
Ratanamanaung pagoda is situated half a mile away from the north-east corner of the palace site. King San Da Thu Dam Ma built the pagoda in AD 1658. The pagoda was named Ratanamanaung dedicating to that Rakhine people have taken refuge in three gems: Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha in belief from generation to generation. The pagoda was built step by step with bell-shaped dome, the inverted alms bowl, the molding, the downturned lotus petals, the colored-glass ball, the upturned lotus petals, the banana bud, the umbrella, the triangular vane and the diamond orb.
The pagoda is 150 feet high . There are planetary figures in all directions near the pagoda. The sabbath hall which is 54 feet in length, 13 feet in breadth and 10 feet in height, is in the northern part of the pagoda. That Sabbath hall is called white cave. The monk who dwelt in the cave, was given the throne of MraukU in 1696 AD, and he ruled Rakhine for one year in the name of Mar Rone Pi Ya. The stone cave is in the east, and the stone Buddha images are inside the cave.
The archery field is out of the eastern wall of the pagoda. That place is called Laykhanpyin. The art of riding elephants and horses and the art of shooting bows, were celebrated in the month of Pyartho in MraukU period. So far, there is a place where the stones were arranged in tiers as the grandstands in MraukU period at the southern part of the field. Nowadays, a monastery was built in the place of the ancient monastery compound and the monks are dwelling in the monastery. The pagoda was damaged by the 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Myanmar.
Thus, Rakhine is a charming place for natural and cultural lovers with simple and honest people.