Htukkanthein Temple is one of the most famous temples in Mrauk U, meaning ‘Cross-Beam Ordination Hall’. Similar to several other temples in Mrauk U, Htukkanthein Temple is designed as a dual purpose ‘fortress – temple’. Built in 1571 by King Min Phalaung, the temple is a place to enshrine the statues of Buddha.
Htukkanthein attracts visitors from far away by its large central bell-shaped stupa which is topped with a circular mushroom on top of a flat surface and surrounded by four similar-in-shape but smaller-in-size stupas at the corners. There is a square window at the central dome, permitting the sun’s rays at dawn to lighten up the main Buddha image in the central chamber.
The inside passageway coils its way several times before reaching the heart of the temple. Along the passageway, lots of intricate sculptures depict people with different facial expressions and distinctive hairstyles reflecting the fashion of that time. The sculptures on each side of the niches are believed to express the donors who made the temple construction possible. It is a must to prepare a torch because it is dark inside.
Htukkanthein is one of the most militaristic buildings in Myanmar due to its construction on a raised ground with a single entrance and very small windows. From here, it is easy to drop by one more spectacular temple named Shite-thaung, which is only 50 meter away.