About 7 miles north of Mrauk U are the barely discernible remains of the kingdom of Wethali. It was founded in AD 327 by King Mahataing Chandra, according to the Rakhine chronicles; archaeologists believe that the kingdom lasted until the 8th century. Today, in addition to the walls of the 1650ft-by-990ft central-palace site, the main attraction for visitors is the so-called Great Image of Hsu Taung Pre, a 16.5ft-high Rakhine-style sitting buddha said to date from AD 327.
The elevated track that runs adjacent to Wethali is in fact an abandoned railway line. A rare incidence of the former military government bowing to popular opinion occurred here in late 2010, when a few brave locals protested against the planned route of a new railway linking Sittwe with Minbu, the construction of which was damaging temples and sites within the archaeological area. The project was halted and the railway’s route changed.