Arakan History

Arakan History


Vesali is one of the oldest ancient cities in all of Burma, dating from AD 327 to AD 1018. It was founded by Dvan Chandra who, according to an Anandacandra Inscription from 729 AD, was believed to have been a descendant of the Hindu god Shiva.

Vesali is noted for being the first Arakanese kingdom to use currency, almost a millennium before it was introduced by other civilizations in Burma. Gold and silver coins, inscribed with the Chandra dynasty emblem and the word “king” in Sanskrit have been found and dated back to the Vesali era. The Vesali kingdom had a far-reaching trade network, exporting goods to the Arab and Persian kingdoms and beyond.

Laymro Era

From 794 AD – 1413 AD several Arakanese capitals were founded along the Laymro River. The first, Sambuwauk, was founded by King Nga Tone Munn, who was the son of the last king of Vesali, Sula Chandra. In 818 AD his second cousin Khattathun seized the throne and moved the capital to Pyinsa, where it stayed for 285 years.

Over the next 148 years, the capital was re-located five times to different spots along the Laymro River. In 1406 the second Laungkrauk city, the capital at the time, was invaded by the Burmese and King Munn Saw Munn fled; according to an early 1940s account written by Nga Me for Arthur P. Phrayre (then the governor of Arakan), the King was given refuge in Bengal by Sultan Nazzir Udin Shah. In 1429, with the Sultan’s assistance, Munn Saw Munn led an army back into Arakan and restored its independence. This version of events has been disputed due to the lack of evidence of a strong link between the Arakan and Bengal kingdoms of the time. What is certain is that shortly after Munn Saw Munn returned to Arakan, the capital was moved to Mrauk- U and arguably the most prosperous era in Arakanese history followed. Continue reading