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Dec 15 : Day of the State of Arakan

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Dec 15, 2010

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Today, 15th December 2010 is the day of the state of Arakan, and this is the time of 25th Anniversary of celebrating since this date was set as the Day of the State for Arakan. So, as per giving honor to the our native land, Arakan, I would like to share about Arakan state. The following article was extracted from the Book of The Golden Mrauk U written by U Shwe Zan. The article name was "The Rakhine State".





Rakhine State


Rakhine (formerly known as Arakan) is one of the seven states constituted in the Union of Myanmar, separated by the long range of Rakhine Yoma from Myanmar proper and by the river Naaf from Bangladesh. Rakhine State is a narrow strip of coastal region intersected and blue mountain ranges.

Having an area of 36,778 km it constitutes of 4 Districts, 17 townships and 1,041 villages tracts and the population is a little over 2 million.

Most of the people are Rakhine: there are also Chins who occupy the hill areas of Mrebon, Ramree, Ann and Taungoke townships. Many hill tribes interspersed with the Rakhines in the region are Daingnet, Mro, Khumi and Thet ( also known as Chakmas). Many other nationals like Myanmars, Kamans, Bengalis and Maramagrees (Bruas) also live in many townships.

Physical Background

The whole region is hilly and the coast is rocky and fringed with islands which are in fact tops of submerged mountains. The larger and more important islands are Ramree, Manaung (Cheduba) and Barongas, all in the central section. The highest elevation of the region is 6,500 ft (Sondaung). The rivers of Rakhine, with the exceptions of those in the north, are small mountain streams. The rivers of Rakhine, with exceptions of those in the north, are small mountain streams. The rivers Naaf, Mayu, Kaladan and Lemro are all in the north. The Saingdin, a tributary of the Mayu is noted for its water-fall, which has good prospects for development of hydro-electric power.

The plain of Sittwe is the only sizable plain which is formed by the deltas of Mayu, Kaladan and Lemro rivers. It is fertile and serves as the major rice producing area of Rakhine. Sittwe, the capatil of Rakhine state is situated in this plain.

The Rakhine Coast, though generally rocky, has some lovely beaches. One such beach is the Ngapali, closed to Thandway and is Myanmar’s leading seaside resort. Kan Thar Yar, another white sand beach is situated in Gwa Township along Gwa – Ngathaing Chaung road. Now a day, both beaches cab be easily assessable by car from other States and Divisions.


Economy

Since time immemorial Rakhine has been called as Dhanyawaddy, “The Land of Bounteous Rice”. Marine sector is next to agriculture. Rice mills, sawmills, edible oil mills, leather tanning mill, coconut fiber mills and sugar mill are playing some important roles in industrial sector. Household hand looms Rakhine longyis are popular in Myanmar.


Rakhine State Trunk Road

A 521 miles 5 furlongs long Rakhine State trunk road of Ngathaing Chaung - Gwa Thandwe – Taungoke – Ann - Minbya – Mraukk U- Kyauktaw – Ponnagyun – Sittwe is completely constructed and the trunk road extended up to Kyaukphyu.

Besides, road linking town with town and village with village total length of 343 miles 7 furlongs are also constructed.

To support trunk roads, many long and short crossing bridges of rivers and creeks have been constructed to day. Some important bridges are Gissarpanadi, Ra Maung suspension bridge, Mraung Bwe, Minchaung, Ma Ai, Kyaintally of Kyauktaw, Minbya, Sittwe, Ann and Gwa townships respectively which became strong connecting links of the trunk roads.

Cultural Heritage

Mrauk U offers some of the richest archaeological sites in South East Asia. Mrauk U’s rich heritage is evidenced by many magnificent monuments and Pagodas like Shitethaung, Htukkant Thein etc.

The City of Mrauk U is situated 40 miles upstream to the north-east of Sittwe. Founded in 1430, and rebuilt by the help of the Portuguese a century later, Mrauk U stood long for threre hundred and fifty five years. The city was a cosmopolitan city, fortified by a 30 – kilometer long fortification and an intricate net of moats and canals. At the centre of the city was the Royal Palace, looming high over the surrounding area like as Asian acropolis. Waterways formed canals and creeks earned the fame of a distinct resemblance to the city of Venice. It is in the Mrauk U period of Rakhine history that Rakhine civilization saw its Golden Days.

The pride of Mrauk U is in such majestic monuments as the massive Shitethaung Temple that houses a rich array of Lord Buddha’s previous lives and also the figurines of Rakhine culture if that period. The colossal Htukkant Thein, an ordination hall with several images exhibiting clothing popular in the 16th century, richly decorated central pillar of Anndaw Thein and countless others that have rarely been visited by foreigners – all having more or less superb stone works.

The excavation works of old Vesali (5 miles north of Mrauk U) which was conducted between 1980 – 1985 added a richer collection of artifact to an already – rich hoards of priceless antiques above the soil. Research on the new found antiquities of Rakhine civilization may inspire scholars to delve into many hidden facts of ancient times. Numismatic studies have unveiled that coin – making was popular in Rakhine as far back as in the 4th century. The wealth of cultural heritage is manifest in statues and inscriptions. Anandacandra inscription, wrought by Anandacandra – an 8th century Vesali King, records in over 60 Sanskrit stanzas which disclosed the consecutive succession of long line of kings that ruled old Rakhine up to his time.

The crown of the Rakhine artifact that has been taken away from the soil of its origin is the Mahamuuni Image or Rakhine Pharagri in Mandalay that still receives sacred allegiance from millions of South East Asian Buddhist devotees. The colossal image, rising to 13 ft, made the soil of its origin to be nicknamed as the “Land of Great Image.” The shrine of Mahamuni at Kyauktaw, the alleged seat of the original image, has stone statues in its place, datable to 5th century AD.

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