Shite-thaung Temple

Shite-thaung Temple

Shite-thaung (MYname|MY=ရှစ်သောင်းဘုရာ), also Shittaung (read 'Shittaung' in Burmese) is a famous temple in Mrauk U. The name means 'Temple of 80,000 Images', and is also known as the 'Temple of Victory'.

The temple was built in 1535-6 by King Min Bin to commemorate his conquest of Bengal. It is located on the western face of Pokhaung Hill, north of the Royal Palace, and adjacent to the Andaw-thein temple. It is typical of the many Buddhist temples found in Burma: a central bell-shaped stupa, surrounded by four smaller stupas at the corners, and a multitude of even-smaller stupas surrounding them. At the east of the temple, there is a recent (though about 75 years old) addition of a flight of stairs and ta-zaung.

There is a central hall at the heart of the temple, which can be easily accessed. Hundreds of Buddha statues line the main hall, some of them in their original positions, others moved from nearby excavation sites. However, the Shitthaung's most prominent feature is not the central hall, but rather the three layers of maze-like corridors that encircle the main hall. The three corridors contain countless reliefs of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Kings of Spiritual abodes, Devas, guardian spirits, the 550 Jatakas, Arakanese culture and animals, both real and mythical.

The Shite-thaung temple is the main attraction of Mrauk U. Adjacent to it lies another famous temple, the Htukkanthein Temple ("Htukkan Ordination Hall").

Weather damage

Due to Mrauk U's tropical location, much of its temples have been damaged by the monsoon rain. It was found out in 2003 that the central stupa had begun to leak, dissolving away some of the intricate statues in the two chambers. To prevent this, the local archeological department hastedly poured concrete over the stupas. This prevented the statues inside from being destroyed, but it also destroyed the outer appearance of the temple, which was the focal pagoda to most of the northern Arakanese.

Many Arakanese criticize "the defacing" of their most treasured temple, but since it was the only way to prevent the more precious carvings inside, the actions have not been as widely condemned as expected.

Image gallery


*"Burma's Lost Kingdoms - Splendours of Arakan" by Pamela Gutman

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