For 350 years, the Arakan kings reigned from a great capital upriver from the Bay Of Bengal. Arakan navies controlled the sea from Dhaka to Mawlamyine. Traders- Dutch, Mon, Burman, Arab, Hindu, Muslim – mingled in the markets and courts of Mrauk U, whose name means “monkey egg.”
The splendid legacy of the kingdoms sits in jungle, in farmland and on the edge of town. A local’s front garden looks out on a fortress-like monastry, and ancient stone chedi cast shadows on the village soccer pitch.
Arakan’s history haunts modern Rakhine State: in the south Arakan Buddhists fight the Myanmar army, which itself slaughters Rohingya Muslims further north.