Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thailand - Historic City of Ayutthaya

Nobody knows how the head ended here

Ruins of
Wat Mahathat

In about 1625 the top portion of the prang broke off; it was rebuilt in 1633 some 4 metres higher than before. Later it collapsed again, and only the corners survived.
In 1956 a secret chamber was uncovered in the ruins; among the treasures found inside were gold jewelry, a gold casket containing a relic of the Buddha, and fine tableware.
The temple's prang, at 46 m (150 ft) high, is one of the old city's most impressive edifices. With its picturesquely ruined stupas, Wat Mahathat is a great place to be at sunset.
Scattered around the temple are some important remains of variously shaped prangs and chedis, in particular an octagonal chedi with a truncated spire in the Ceylonese style.

Ruins of Wat Mahathat

Wat Mahathat is believed to be one of Ayutthaya’s oldest temples, possibly built by King Boromaraja I (1370-88). Its central prang, of which only the base remains, once rose to a height of 165 feet. Traces of the original stucco decorations can still be seen on some of the surrounding chedis.

The image was believed to have been made between 1448 to 1602

According to our guide,a Burmese delegation visited the area and paid for the restoration of the Wat which was completed in 1956

This chapel is located to the south of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. A large bronze seated Buddha image (Phra Mongkhon Bophit) was originally enshrined outside the Grand Palace to the east. It could be dated to the 15th century and was originally intended to stand in the open air. Later, King Songtham commanded it to be transferred to the west, where it is currently enshrined and covered with a Mondop. In the reign of Phra Chao Sua, the top of the Mondop was burnt down by a fire due to a thunderbolt. The King then commanded that a new building be built in the form of a big sanctuary (Maha Wihan) to cover the image in lieu of the former Mondop. During the second fall of Ayutthaya, the building and the image were badly destroyed by fire. The present Viharn and Buddha image have been reconstructed and renovated. The open area located east of the Viharn was formerly Sanam Luang, where royal cremation ceremonies took place.

The royal palace was located here from the establishment of
Ayutthaya in the reign of King Ramathibodi 1 (1350 A.D.) to the reign
of King Sam Phraya (1448 A.D.). Later King Borommatrailokanat
ordered a wat to be built on this site in 1448 A.D. to be used as a
monastic area.

After the reign of King Borommatrailokanat, his son King Ramathibodi II,
ordered the construction for two chedis, one of which was kept the
ashes of his father and the other those of his brother, King Borom-
marachathirat III. Another chedi was built by order of King Borom-
rachanophuttangkun. It was similarly used to house royal remains
those of King Ramathibodi II.In 1499, a principal viharn was built. The following year, in 1500 A.D.,King Ramathibodi II commanded the casting of a standing Buddha image 16 meters high and covered with gold. This image, Phra
Buddha Chao Si Sanphet was the main object of veneration in the
royal viranra (hall of worship). After that time the ashes of members
of the royal family other than the kings were placed in small chedis
constructed at the site.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet was the royal chapel and as such did not
have a Sangavasa (no monks dwelt there). It was used for royal

When Ayutthaya was sacked in 1767 A.D. the gold which covered
was taken by the invaders. During his reign King Rama I (1782 -
1809 A.D.) of the Ratanakosin Period ordered the transfer of the
inner core of Phra Buddha Chao Si Sanphet from Ayutthaya to Wat
Phra Chetuphon in Bangkok, and had it placed in a chedi specially
built for the purpose. Another Buddha image of importance called
Phralokanat was also brought to this wat at about the same time.

The ruins of the Royal Palace and Wat Phra Si Sanphet

The city of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong and became the second capital of what was then known as Siam.
Over the next 417 years it was ruled by 33 kings and repelled 23 Burmese invasions, before the Burmese finally succeeded in razing it to the ground.The Burmese obliterated almost everything in 1767 -- even melting Buddha images down for their gold.
At its height, Ayutthaya was surrounded by a 12-kilometre-long wall which was five metres thick and six metres high and boasted 99 gates, brick and clay roads and canals to transport water into the city.


  1. This is so very interesting as I'm an art history major in school. Thanks for all the background information about these sites. I wish I could see them in person. Maybe someday!

  2. I am glad you liked the blog. I am lucky that singapore is so close to some of these Heritage sites