Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mrauk U - A Cultural Heritage Site

Mrauk U - A Cultural Heritage Site

Natural Heritage
  1. Significance of ecological systems and natural heritage
    • Myanmar is a land of wonders. Among the wonders of Asia in the Union of Myanmar,
    • Marauk U in Rakhine State is a notable wonder from a period between Bagan and
    • Konbaung Dynasties of Mainland Myanmar, bridging two important periods of the
    • History of Myanmar.
    • Mrauk U is located in Rakhine, the southernmost region of the Union of Myanmar.
    • Mrauk U is in the strong strategic location surrounded by mountains and hills.

  2. Undisturbed environments or environments demonstrating natural process at work i.e. wetlands, wilderness areas, or coastal areas
    • The unique characteristics of the topography are the tiers of hills and mountain ranges around Maruk U.
    • Between the hills and Mountains are natural passes, fenced with earth walls and shore walls.
    • Mrauk U is located within the seacoast, encircled with a natural water system
    • Rivers and creeks are fed and activated by the ebb and flow of the tide.
    • Mrauk U region stood in the fertile valley between Kispanaddi and Lemro Rivers which meander through fammland passing fishing village.
    • Mrauk U straddles the banks of Aungdat Chaung, a tributary of the Kispanddi 72 km from the western coastline.

  3. Existence of rare and unique species present as the site
    • "Thazin" flower orchards
    • Fish and marine products
    • Migratory wild birds

    Cultural Heritage

  4. Significance of the existing cultural and historical resources
      Mrauk U is a vast treasure house of the cultural legacy of Myanmar where densely populated ancient cities of Rakhine flourished in continuity.
    • Mrauk U was founded by King Min Saw Mon in the year AD 1430 and it was the capital of Rakhine for about 355 years, Its glory lasted over the reign of 48 kings. Mrauk U, then ceased to be the capital when the Kingdom fell to Myanmar King in 1785.
    • Records show that in the period between Wethali and Mrauk U eras, about AD 1200, some capital cities were moved and new cities founded at Lemro, Puring, Naryizaya and Caungyet.
    • Innumerable pagodas and Buddha images are present all over Mrauk U and the surrounding hills.

    • The Shithaung or Ran Aung Zeya Pagoda is a temple of 80,000. A place full of small images, scenes in sculpture of Buddhist shrines with the kings and queens countries and common people are portrayed in their medieval costumes and headdresses all frozen in their medieval costumes.
    • Myriads of interesting scenes and figures line the dark corridors of the Shitthaung Rakhine men boxing and wresting; some girls dancing and playing; mythical birds, beasts and half human celestials and demons, the figures of both male and female Vasundhra / Vasundhari symbolizing the god/ goddess of the heath.
    • King Min Ba (AD 1513-1553) built this Temple-fortress temple after repulsing a Portuguese attack.
    • The Andaw (the tooth relic of Buddha) was built on a small hilloks by King Min Hla Raza in 1521. A hollow octagonal building made of pure sandstone blocks two internal concentric passages, with a prayer hall on the east. Frescoes depict detailed pictorial portrayals of life in the Mrauk U court.

    • The Dukkhanthein (Sima or Ordination Hall, the Koethaing, the Laymyetnar and the Shwe Daung Pagodas are also prominent historical and cultural resources.
    • The pagodas in Mrauk U are full of stone carvings and high relief lining the walls and Buddha images of all sizes in the shrines, They were also cast in bronze or an alloy of five metals (gold, silver, zinc, copper, tin)
    • The most famous cast bronze image is the Mahamuni.
    • Fortresses surround the city wall, built very steep of stone bricks and blocks on the mountain ranges in alignment with natural features of the mountain ranges
    • Fortresses still survive until today.


  5. Authenticity and integrity
    • According to the Rakhine historical records during, the period between Wethali and Mrauk U eras in about 1200, some capital cities were founded at Lemro, Purin, Naiyizaya and Launggyet. Mrauk U remained to be the capital of Rakhine monarchs from approximately AD 1400 to AD 1784.

  6. Degree of survival of the archaeological remains, human values, ways of life, customs, land use events and luring traditions.
    • The Department of Archaeology under the Ministry of Culture has located the sites of the ancient cities of the Danyawaddi and Wethali and excavations have begun at Wethali.
    • The palace walls, moat, pound, palace site, pagodas, stupas , monasteries of Mrauk U are still standing in evidence.
    • The archaeological museum in Mrauk U displays objects of antiquity, stone inscriptions, ancient arts and handicrafts such as stone sculpture, porcelain glazed pottery, carvings and bronze castings.
    • At the Bandoola Monastery, there are many ancient Buddha images and other carvings and sculptures pertaining to Buddhism.
    • Archaeologists have discovered and compiled an inventory of the (13) granaries. Win Ma Na granary is now being preserved by the Archaeology Department of the Mrauk U Branch Office.
    • The water gates and the sluices built of stones are still in good condition.
    • The other tourist sites and tourism activities on Mrauk U are
    • Thatch roof making
    • Royal Palace stone walls and moats
    • Excursion trip in Lemro River
    • Wethali ancient city
    • Kyauktaw Mahamuni Image
    • Ponenakyun
    • Laungkyat Mountain stone inscription

Site protection and conservation
  1. Existence of management control / measures to ensure that the site capacity (in terms of resources and facilities can absorb tourism activities)
    • Mrauk U possess abundant natural and cultural resources and can, therefore, categorize it as a cultural heritage site of 15th century monuments and edifices.
    • The Archaeology Department the Fine Arts Department and Cultural Institute Department under the Ministry of Culture have the following objectives for the conservation of ancient monuments and antiquities.
    • To prepare and implement a master plans for the preservation and restoration of national cultural heritage of the country.
    • To promote capacity building and skills for preservation, conservation and restoration work.

  2. Implementation of preventive measures, management mechanism to minimize degradation of resources
    1. Myanmar Tourism Law prescribes that hotel and tourism industry shall not cause damage to or destruction of cultural heritage and natural scenic beauty
    2. Ancient Monuments Preservation Act and Amendment Act
    3. Myanmar Monuments and Antiquities Law
    4. Law for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Sites and ancient cities.
    5. Myanmar Cultural Heritage Presentation Preservation Protection Central Committee
    6. Inventory of national cultural heritage is developed by preparing a photogram mating records and place them in the National Achieves
    7. Guidelines and manual on conservation and restoration techniques are prepared and disseminated to technical staff.
    8. Legal and institutional mechanism are reviewed and if necessary revamped.
    9. Education and trainings are conducted to conservation engineers.
    10. Community participation in conservation and restoration is encouraged.
Tourism and site management
  1. Appropriate tourism activities compatible with local heritage values and character.
    • Rakhine culture has a unique quality that blends to show their physical process, the Rakhines have a wresting called Kyinkain. Their grand boat racings recall the days of their strong naval force.
    • During Thingyan Water Festival, their love for boats is depicted with their use of a ling boat for splashing water. Their music, dances and songs show the simplicity and beauty of their cultural life.

  2. Involvement of Local Communities in the development and the Management of the cultural and natural heritage site
    The Regional Authorities viz the Rakhine State Peace and Development Council lays down the guidelines which are implemented down the line. The preservation and conservation activities are undertaken by the local authorities and the local communities on a self reliant basis through cash donation collected.

  3. Creation of jobs that encourage the use of local knowledge skills and traditions
    The local people are skilful stone and wood sculptors, and bronze casting. The Rakhine handwoven cloths are popular handicrafts. Thazin, (Bulbophyllum auricomum in botanical term) is cultivated in Mrauk U.

    It is a royal celestial flower which has potential markets in all parts of Myanmar.

  4. The use of appropriate off site and on site interpretive media to educate visitors such as
    • Signage / panel
    • Brochure
    • Visual / audio presentation
    • Guide book
    • Special events

    The signage is "Tourism for Everyone"
    Tourism Promotional Materials such as Visitors' Guide Book (Myanmar) CD Roms and DVD include Mrauk U as a cultural heritage destination. Radio broadcasts on the development of tourism Myanmar includes Mrauk U. MRTV 3 which broadcast in English has programmes which promote Destinations in Myanmar and a visit to Mrauk U is televised. Mrauk U is also ASEAN mentioned on the websites maintained by ASEAN, GMS, BIMSTEC and ACMECS.

    The special events of Mrauk U which is promoted together with the destination is the Thingyan Water Festival celebrated with the traditional taste.

  5. Availability of well trained local guides / interpreters to serve visitors
    There are over (6000) trained and licensed tour guides who are available to serve as tour guides stationed in Mrauk U or from outside who are issued with a license by the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism to serve visitors to Mrauk U.

  6. Introduction of codes of conduct to educate visitors on what should or should not do when visiting the site
    1. Travellers' Tips mentioned in all published Visitors' Guide
    2. The licensed tour guides are trained to educate the visitors when visiting cultural heritage sites and ecotourism destinations. The dos and donts are regularly monitored by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Child Wise Tourism Trainings are attended by the tour guides and hotel staff.

  7. Monitoring program in place to assess tourism impacts on the site
    The Fine Arts Department, Archaeology Department and the Cultural Institute under the Ministry of Cultural and the Myanmar Travels & Tours branch office of the Myanmar Hotels and Tourism Services under the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism work in close collaboration with the regional authorities who have direct monitoring to assess the impacts of tourism on Mrauk U.
Environmental Management
  1. Provision of appropriate and sufficient waste management system
    Under the UNICEF assisted Environmental Sanitation Project, appropriate and sufficient waste management system has been provided.

  2. Put in place waste water treatement
    National Level Water and Sanitation Committee and several international NGOs are actively participating for the prevention of any water borne and water related diseases involving the local communities to be involved in management cost sharing and for the promotion of awareness of the importance of waste water management.

  3. Zoning parking area for the site
    Mrauk U, Cultural Heritage Site has a zoning parking area whereby public housing and hotel buildings

  4. Control and regulated the entry of objects, materials and vehicles to the site
    The Entrance Fee of US$ 5 is collected at the Mrauk U Cultural Heritage Site. The Township Peace and Development Council, Customs Department and Immigration Department in Mrauk U regulate the entry of objects, materials and vehicles.
  1. Sufficient Infrastructure and facilities to enable easy and safe access to the site
    Mrauk U is accessible by air, land and sea routes via Sittway. The most convenient is one hour flying by plane from Yangon to Sittway. There are daily flights by Myanmar Airways; (6) times a week except Saturday by Air Mandalay; (3) times a week by Yangon Airways. It takes (4) hours by speed boats (via Sittway) and (8) hours by Myanmar Five Star Cruise. Overland travel takes (16) hours from Yangon to Sittway and the return (24) hours.

  2. Adequate and clear directional signage to the site
    The Tourist Maps published by the private sector are endorsed by Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and Mrauk U is clearly directed in them. There is a clear directional signage to the site at Sittway Airport.
Support facilities
  1. Adequacy of facilities such as medical care, F & B outlets, electricity water supply, restrooms, communication tools
    Mrauk U has (25) bed general hospital, private clinics and dispensaries for medical care. Mrauk U has (4) hotels with F & B outlets for visitors. As for public utilities, electricity supply is given daily in the evenings. The hotels run with their own generators for (24) hour electricity. International Direct Dialing and internet access is possible at the Hotels.

  2. Availability of skilled staff, officials / local guards and other measures to take care of safety and security for visitors
    Mrauk U is a safe tourist destination with good security. For safety and security of the visitors, there is the Tourism Police Unit in addition to the Mrauk U Township Peace and Development Council and the Government Departments.

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