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The site is approximately 180 miles north by north east of Sittwe, and lies between the Kaladan River and Thare Chaung (Thare Stream). Like much of Northern Rakhine State, it is in a hilly locale. Much of it is now deserted, with the only signs of civilisation being the stalls around the Maha Muni and meditation centres, opened to cater to the influx of pilgrims to the Maha Muni temple ( not the Maha Muni Image )
The site can be reached by a one and a half to two hours bus ride from Mrauk U. Up until the mid-1950s, Dhanyawadi could also be reached by boat from the Thare Chaung, but pollution and silting has almost blocked the canal leading to the site.
Dhanyawadi was the capital of the first historically accurate Arakanese Kingdom. The name is a corruption of the Pali word Dhannavati, which means "Blessed with grain". Like much of its descendants, the Kingdom of Dhanyawadi was based on trade between the East (pre-Pagan Myanmar, China, the Mons), and the West (India, Bengal, Persia).
The city-walls form a perimeter of roughly 10 kilometers, defining the city to about 4.5 square kilometers. Remains of the citywall, and the palace compound are still visible.
It is the most Indianized of the four Arakanese Kingdoms to emerge. Although local legend and folklore claim that the Kingdom of Dhanyawadi existed before the time of the Buddha ( before 6th Century BC), most archaeological evidence points to a period between the 4th and the 6th Century AD.
The most prominent Buddhist site is the Maha Muni Temple. According to local legend, the Buddha visited Dhanyawadi during his life. In Dhanyawadi, the noblemen and the affluent donated their wealth and possessions (mainly gold and silver), to be melted and cast into an image of the Buddha. The Buddha is said to have provided seven drops of his sweat, taken from his chest, and the drops were added to the molten metals. This allowed the Maha Muni Image, once cast, to be able to preach the Dhamma.
When Arakan fell to the Burmese in 1785, the Burmese tried to take away the statue back to Amarapura - then, their royal capital. But, here, Burmese and Arakanese sources diverge. The Arakanese claim that Buddha image disappeared - either from the temple, or when the Burmese tried to load it onto an awaiting barge at Thare Chaung. The Burmese, on the other hand, claim that they transported the Maha Muni back to their capital (which was then moved later to Mandalay). But some Burmese academics are now supporting the fact that the Maha Muni never left Rakhine state.
- The Land of the Great Image - Being Experiences of Friar Manrique in Arakan by Maurice Collis
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