Ancient Ayutthaya.

Our exploration of the central area of Thailand began in Ayutthaya, visiting the former capitol’s most important ruins and historical attractions.

The historic city of Ayutthaya, founded in 1350, was the second capitol of the Siamese Kingdom. It flourished from the 14th-18th centuries, during which time it grew to be one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan urban areas and a center of global diplomacy and commerce. Ayutthaya was strategically located on an island surrounded by three rivers connecting the city to the sea. This site was chosen because it was located above the tidal bore of the Gulf of Siam as it existed at that time, thus preventing the attack of the city by the sea-going warships of other nations. The location also helped to protect the city from seasonal flooding.

The city was attacked and razed by the Burmese army in 1767 who burned the city to the ground and forced the inhabitants to abandon the city. The city was never rebuilt in the same location and remains known today as an extensive archaeological site. Ayutthaya now is characterized by the remains of tall rang (reliquary towers) and Buddhist monasteries of monumental proportions, which give an idea of the city’s past size and the splendor of its architecture.

WAT MAHA THAT

Wat Maha That is the royal temple that houses Buddha’s relics. The temple is located on the city island in the central part of Ayutthaya. It is stated in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya that the construction of this temple’s main pagoda (Prang) was started by King Borommaracha I in 1374 and completed in King Ramesuan’s reign. The pagoda collapsed during King Songtham’s reign and was renovated in 1633, after King Prasat Thong ascended to the throne. After the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, the monastery was set on fire in the Burmese attack. The abandoned pagoda fell in decay during the reign of King Rama VI. Only the symmetrical base with staircases remain.

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Octagonal Pagoda (Chedi) Number 14: Located in the east of the temple, it is a brick and mortar octagonal-shaped Pagoda (Chedi) built in four indented layers on a square-shaped base added with 20 indented corners. Each side of the first to the third layers displays “jaranam” facades, with decorative stucco of divine figures placed between each facade. The fourth layer of the Chedi was decorated with miniature Pagodas (Prangs) in alternation with Brahma stucco at every side. The Chedi’s architectural style and its decorative stuccos reflect the influence of Lanna art, which was partly used in its creation.
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Buddha’s Head in Tree Roots: The head was once part of a sandstone Buddha image which fell off the main body onto the ground. It was gradually trapped in the roots of a constantly growing Bodhi tree. The stone head has rather flat and wide facial structures with thick eyebrows and big eye lids, straight wide lip, and discernible lip edge, reflecting the art of Middle Ayutthaya Period, presumably around the mid 1600’s.
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Along the length of the outer wall place Buddha images with their faces directing towards the Main Pagoda (Prang).
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WAT NAPHRAMERU-RAJIKARAM

Oung-in in the reign of King Ramathibodee II, the 10th king of Ayutthaya had ordered to construct this temple in 1499 A.D. In 1569 A.D. Thailand was defeated by Burma for the first time. This temple became the place where the king of Thailand and king of Burma discussed peace issues and as witnesses they brought the Buddha image, the Holy book, and monks here (according to the peace agreement). After that in 1760 A.D., the king of Burma had invaded Thailand and used this temple to place cannons in and fire them into the royal palace. One of the shells hit a part of the royal palace and destroyed it. It is said that the Burmese king was wounded in the cannon blasts and died with his army on his way back to Burma. This temple has importance in art and holiness.

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The crowned Buddha image in the ordination hall sits in the Subduing Mara posture, measuring 6m high and 4.4m in width. The image was cast of metal covered in gold leaf and is attired in royal dress complete with crown, earrings, necklace, chest and arm ornament. The statue is the most beautiful and largest crowned Buddha image that’s left since the war with Burma in 1767.
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Worshippers scrapping off some of the gold leaf that covers this sitting image.

PHRA BUDDHA SAI YAT (THE RECLINING BUDDHA)

The Reclining Buddha of Wat Lokaya Sutha underwent major restoration in 1954 until it had the final form of today. The Reclining Buddha image is aligned to a north-south axis, where its head is pointing to the north while its face is facing west. The Buddha image from head to toes is 42m in length. There are lotus flowers supporting the Buddha’s head. The Buddha’s one foot is positioned on top of the other foot in a perfect right angle. All of the Buddha’s toes are of equal lengths.

In the areas in front of the Buddha image, there are traces of 24 octagon-shaped brick pillars surrounding the Buddha image, suggesting that the Buddha image was once encased by a Vihara.

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BANG PA-IN PALACE (SUMMER PALACE)

The Royal Palace at Bang Pa-In has a history dating back to the 17th century. According to a chronicle of Ayutthaya, King Prasat Thong (1629-1656) had a palace constructed  on Bang Pa-In Island in the Chao Phraya River. A contemporary dutch merchant, Jeremias van Vliet, reported that King Prasat Thong was an illegitimate son of King Ekathotsarot, who in his youth was shipwrecked on that island and had a son by a woman who befriended him. The boy grew up to become the Chief Minister. After having usurped the throne, he became known as King Prasat Thong.

The King founded a monastery, Wat Chumphon Nikayaram, on the land belonging to his mother on Bang Pa-In Island, and then had a pond dug and a palace built to the south of that monastery. The chronicle records the name of only one building, the Aisawan Thiphaya-art Royal Residence, which was constructed in 1632, the year of the birth of his son, the future King Narai (1656-1688). It is not known whether the palace was in use till the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. However, by 1807, when the kingdom’s best poet, Sunthon Phu, sailed past Bang Pa-In, only a memory of the palace remained, for the site was neglected and overgrown. The palace was revived by King Rama IV of Chakridynasty, better known in the West as King Mongkut (1851-1868), who had a temporary residence constructed on the outer island of the Neo-Gothic style monastery. Named Wat Niwet Thammaprawat, it was built by his son and heir, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V).

The present-day royal palace dated from the reign of King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910), especially during the time 1872-1889, when most of the buildings standing today were constructed. Today the palace is used occasionally by Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) and Queen Sirikit as a residence and for holding receptions and banquets.

Similar to most Thai royal palaces, the compound is divided into two sections, the Outer and the Inner Palace. Whereas the Outer Palace consists of buildings for public and ceremonial uses, the Inner Palace is reserved for the the King and his immediate family.

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Phra Thinang Aisawan Thiphya-art: It is a copy of the Phra Thinang Aphonphimok Prasat in the Grand Palace, which was built by King Chulalongkorn’s father, King Mongkut, as a pavilion for changing regalia before mounting a palanquin.
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Phra Thinang Asiawan Thiphya-art: a Thai-style pavilion with four porches and a spired roof built by King Chulalongkorn in the middle of an outer pond in 1876. This pavilion now houses a bronze statue of King Chulalongkorn in the uniform of a Field Marshal which was set up by his son King Vajiravudh (Rama VI).
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Sakornprapaht Gate
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Ho (Tower) Withun Thasana (The sages lookout): The observatory was built by King Chulalongkorn in 1881 as a lookout tower for viewing the surrounding countryside.
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Ho Withun Thasana (Lookout tower).
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Phra Thinang (Royal Residence) Wehart Chamrun (Heavenly Light): This Chinese-style two-storyed mansion was built by the equivalent of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and presented to King Chulalongkorn in 1889. Prince Ookhtomsky recorded that. The ground floor contains a Chinese style throne; the upper story houses an alter enshrining the name plates of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn with their respective queens. This mansion was the favorite residence of King Vajiravudh (1910-1925) when he visited Bang Pa-In Place.
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Intricate tile pieces.

 

 

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Lindsay View All →

Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!

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