THAILAND: "Raise of the Ayutthayan Empire"

March 06, 2018

A lot of the historical monuments are clustered together. Who says it’s impossible?

I left Bangkok early in the morning to hop on the train going to Ayutthaya from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong railway station (which is located at the MRT subway terminal).

Nevertheless, we are going to talk about big temple compounds here, and it would take just a bit too much energy and time to walk from one temple to another. So I’m going to recommend you to go on a tour or if you want to explore the city by yourself, why not rent a bicycle or motorcycle. It’s more exciting and I’m telling it to you based on my experience. Well let’s start our first day in Ayutthaya!

Wat Suwan Ratchaworawihan Ram
Formerly known as “Wat Thong,” the temple was constructed by the father of King Rama I in the Ayutthaya period. 

Roaming around, you can see some murals painted on the walls highlighting Buddha's struggles against Mara. A lot of drawings of art that features various of things full of stories like tigers, animals with human faces, serpents and so forth.

Wat Phra ram
a restored ruin located in the Historical Park of Ayutthaya in Pratu Chai Sub-district and situated close to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Sri Sanphet in a swampy area called Bueng Phra Ram. 

The monastery was constructed on the cremation site of the first Ayutthayan monarch.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet
"Temple of the Holy, Splendid Omniscient” was the holiest temple on the site of the old Royal Palace in Thailand's ancient capital of Ayutthaya until the city was completely destroyed by the Burmese. It was the grandest and most beautiful temple in the capital.

The palace contained three wooden buildings named "Phaithun Maha Prasat", "Phaichayon Maha Prasat", and "Aisawan Maha Prasat". 

The Wat Phra Si Sanphet was the temple of the royal family; no monks lived there. The Wat was used exclusively for royal ceremonies. 
In 1767, the Burmese conquered the capital of Ayutthaya and began the extensive destruction and looting of numerous temples and other buildings, including the Wat Phra Si Sanphet. They set the building on fire and melted the gold. The three Chedis were destroyed in the process, but restoration work began in 1956.

Wat Ratchaburana
also located at Ayutthaya Historical Park, this another beautiful Buddhist temple with its amazing prang that is one of the best and finest in the city. It was built as a cremation site for King Borommarachathirat II ‘s two elder brothers. The two brothers had fought to their deaths in a duel for the royal succession to their father Intha Racha. 

In 1957 the temple's crypt was looted of a large number of Buddha images and gold artifacts. The thieves were later caught, but few of the treasures were recovered. Some that were recovered are now housed in the nearby Chao Sam Phraya Museum. Subsequent excavations of the crypt have uncovered many more rare Buddha images.

Wat Maha that/Buddha’s head 
Also called as the "Monastery of the Great Relic" is located on the city island in the central part of Ayutthaya in Tha Wasukri sub-district. 

Wat Maha That was one of the most important monasteries of the Ayutthaya kingdom, not only because it was the religious centre and enshrined relics of the Buddha, but also because of its proximity to the Grand Palace. 

The well known image of the Head of the Buddha, with tree trunk and roots growing around it. 

Pratu Chai/The Reclining Buddha
The contains of the reclining Buddha, which is a must see site and it was also surrounded by some ruins that was almost buried and destroyed. You can see a lot of vendors selling flowers and incense for those believers and other people who wants to pay respect and also as an offering for Buddha. 

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

The temple was constructed in 1630 by the king Prasat Thong as the first temple of his reign, as a memorial of his mother's residence in that area. The temple's name literally means the Temple of long reign and glorious era. 

Along the wall, there were 120 sitting Buddha statues, probably painted in black and gold. 

Wat Na Phra Mane 
Also called as the "Monastery in Front of the Funeral Pyre" or sometimes called Wat Na Phra Meru is located off the city island in the northern area of Ayutthaya in Tha Wasukri sub-district. 

Wat Phu Khao Thong
This structure Wat built to commemorate King Bayinnaung’s victory. It was now rebuilt and painted with a stunning all white color with gold accent. Visitors can climb as far a landing halfway up the chedi, from which the surrounding rice fields and the town of Ayutthaya can be seen. 

During my second day of journey in the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, I continued exploring its unique and amazing treasures. Yeah! One day is not enough to discover all of the ruins there and that's one of  the  reason why it was considered as UNESCO World Heritage centre.

Wat Maheyong
This buddhist temple’s chedi was surrounded by 80 sculpted elephants. The elephants' trunks have now mostly disappeared, and their bodies have been heavily restored. 

Wat Chang Lom

The main structure of the temple is a two-tiered square base round the Sri Lanka-style laterite stupa. The name of the temple come from the statues of 39 standing elephants around the first tier of the stupa base. 

The elephants are remarkably full sized in front of the wall. Normally only the front half of the body is shown as in Wat Chang Rop and Wat Chang Lom in Sukhothai Historical Park.

Chao Sam Phraya National museum
This museum exhibits artifacts discovered during excavation works and restorations of ancient temples in Ayutthaya. 

You can also see several thousand items including Buddha images, votive tablets, gold artifacts and other treasures recovered from the crypts of several temples. 

Samphao Lom
Or the "Monastery of the Capsized Junk" is an active temple with Buddhist clergy. The large ordination hall or ubosot has been completely renovated, though traces of its brick foundation and interior walls are still observable.

This monastery's highlights are its beautifully decorated 3-D murals, and some of this artwork quite literally reaches out at you and you can also see another reclining buddha on the other side of the place.

Phai Ling/Wat Sam Pluem
Wat Sam Plum can easily be found east of the city island. It is located dead-center in 
the middle of the Rojana Road - as it leads to/from the Asian Highway. Wat Sam Plum 
serves as a traffic roundabout, and it is well-known welcoming sign to the old city. Its 
large chedi is usually decorated and lit up at night.

Wat Yai Chaimongkhon
or the "Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory" is located off the city island in the southeastern area of Ayutthaya in present Phai Ling Sub-district. The temple became the home of Buddhist monks ordained and trained at the Monastery of Phra Wanaratanathen in Ceylon (present Sri Lanka). The Sangha group was mainly engaged in meditation.

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