Ancient Temples of Mrauk-U in Rakhine State
Home » Historical Burma » Ancient Capitals of Rakhine Myanmar

Ancient Capitals of Rakhine Myanmar

posted in: Historical Burma
Burmese Arakan Buddhist Art Jamhupati Statue

Ancient Capitals of Rakhine Myanmar – Arakan history suggests that Buddhism was introduced into Rakhine state during the lifetime of the Buddha in 563 BCE., although there are several other suggested dates.

The local chronicles of Arakan mention the Indo Aryan people from the Ganges Valley as the founders of the cities of Dhanyawadi and Vesali the two most important capital cities before 1000 A.D. According to local chronicles Dhanyawadi was the main capital up to 350 or 370 A.D., and Vesali from 788 to 957 A.D., although it continued as a capital until 1018 A.D. According to some scholars Vesali was a larger and more thriving port than Dhanyawadi.

Dhanyawadi and Vesali were the last two Royal Arakan capitals, they were unique in that they occupied a narrow valley between the Kaladan and Lemro rivers about 16 miles apart. The Chronicles note that the earliest people who occupied Rakhine were Negritos, they were referred to as “Bilis” (cannibals), the direct descendants of Neolithic people.

Most kings during this early period bore the title of Suriya or Canda. The most notable of Buddhist kings during the life time of the Buddha, King Canda Suriya was said to have met with the Buddha on Selargiri hill, whereupon he invited the Buddha to his home, the story relates that the Buddha stayed for seven days. When the Buddha was ready to go the King asked him if he would leave an image of himself, the Buddha agreed.

At the king’s request and with the consent of The Buddha a cast of the enlightened one “Buddha” was made, this image is the famous Mahamuni, now housed in the Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay. The king erected the Mahamuni shrine on Sirigutta hill which commemorated The Buddha’s visit, this image now resides in the Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay, now covered in several inches of gold leaf which makes it unrecognizable from the image that was first created.

This is purely legend, some scholars today state that The Buddha never actually set foot on Burmese soil.

In Mrauk-Oo (Mrauk-U) there is a small museum displaying some archeological finds and another larger museum in Sittwe with a collection of what has been found from that period and no doubt there is still much to be discovered, an archaeologists dream.

Ancient Capitals of Arakan

Dhannyawadi B.C. 325-A.D. 326The First Dhannyawadi   King Marayu B.C. 3325 – 1483The Second Dhannyawadi   King Kanrazagree B.C. 1483-580
The Third Dhannyawadi   B.C. 580- A.D. 326 King Chandra Suriya – Gautama Buddha, Himself, visited Dhannyawadi and the Great Image of Mahamuni was cast. Coins were introduced as currency during this period in Arakan.Vesali – Lemro – A.D. 327 – 1430   Vesali Kyauk Hlayga King Dvan Chandra A.D. 327 – 794Sambawak A.D. 794- 818   Prince Nga Tong Mong (Saw Shwe Lu) Lemro A.D. 818 -1430 King Nga Tone MunThis period was the highest civilization in the Bay and highly prosperous with busy international trade with the west. Pyinsa, Purain, Taung Ngu,  Narinsara and Laungkrat. Cities flourished, gold and silver coinage was used in trade relations in Arakan during this period.
Golden Mrauk-U – 1430 – 1784   King Mun Saw Mwan A.D. 1430 – 1530Second Golden Mrauk
A.D. 1530 – 1638 Solidified by King Mun Bun (Mun Ba Gri)Arakan reached its zenith of national unity and was very powerful in this region during this period.
Third Golden Mrauk-U Period

Watching the sun rise over Mrauk-U is Magic