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Photographer's Note

Mrauk U is really a fantastic and peaceful place. You don't miss to go up one of the the hills surrounding the site to see the dawn and the sunset.

Mrauk U
Largely unknown to the Western world for much of its tur¬bulent history, Arakan played a pivotal role in the exchange of cultures and religions between India and Southeast Asia. For over a thousand years the region which now forms the Rakhine State of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) was an inde¬pendent state whose rich history is only slowly being paid the attention it deserves.
From the early centuries of the present era Arakan was ruled by kings who adopted Indian titles and traditions to suit their own environment. Indian Brahmins conducted the royal cer¬emonial, Buddhist monks spread their teachings, traders came and went and artists and architects used Indian models for in¬spiration.
Arakan was discovered and forgotten by the rest of the world as its power rose and fell.
After Arakan was annexed to India by the British in 1826 a number of scholar-administrators began to study in antiqui¬ties, and in 1889 Dr Emil Forchhammer, a Swiss Pali scholar employed by the Government of India, undertook a survey of the sites of the old cities and the major monuments. His com¬prehensive account remains the best to date. Later archaeolo¬gists found sites like Pagan in central Burma more accessible and attractive than those in remote and malarial Arakan, al¬though the region was visited briefly by Charles Duroisclle all 1920 and by U Lu Pe 'Will in 1940, Nevertheless, the sites always attracted Arakanese scholars, especially U San Shwe Bu who worked with British colleagues in the writing, of Arakanese history. A resurgence of interest led by key Arakanese in the Burmese central government in the 1970s led to further study being undertaken by Professor of architecture U Myo Myint Sein and to the present writer's work on the cultural history of the early period. Some Vesali sites were excavated in the 1980s by the present Director-General of the Department of Archae¬ology in Myanmar, U Nyunt Han. Recognising the tourist potential of the region, the government declared the old city of Mrauk-U a Heritage area in 1996. It is now committed to funding restoration of key shrines, and excavation of the place sites of Vesali and Mrauk-U underway.

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