Ayutthaya – The Ancient City

“I do love these ancient ruins. We never tread upon them but we set our foot upon some reverend history.”

John Webster

I’m a one history buff. I like visiting historical sites, touch the ruins, read history books and enjoy it. It awaken an emotion in me and it felt astounding. However, believe it or not, in my years of living in Thailand, I have never been into the ancient city.

It was in the middle of Corona Virus outbreak and traveling was highly discouraged, but here I am – taking a glimpse of Ayutthaya’s splendor in the years past.

It was said that Ayutthaya was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai which was founded in 1351 by King Ramathibodi.

The said ancient kingdom was strategically located on an island surrounded by 3 rivers. Its systematic layout was according to rigid city planning grid, consisting of roads, canals, and moats around all the principal structures. It was said that they took maximum advantage of the city’s position and had a hydraulic system for water management which was unique and extremely advanced. This location helped in preventing an attack from other nations from the sea and protected the city from seasonal flooding. This kingdom flourished from 14th to 18th century until it was captured by the Burmese in 1569 and completely burned down by its army in 1767.

At present, it is located in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province with a total area of 289ha and was declared as historical park in 1976. The part of the park was declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

PARK SITES

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon was said to be built in 1357 when two princes of Ayutthaya (Chao Kaeo and Chao Thai) died of cholera. King Ramathibodi ordered that the bodies of the two princes be exhumed, and that at the cremation site, a stupa and a preaching hall should be established. It was named as Wat Pa Kaeo or The Monastery of the Crystal Forest before.

The temple became the home of the monks who were ordained in Sri Lanka, and was repeatedly involved in horrendous history of Ayutthaya – from overthrowing the throne, to rebellion, and execution. Until King Naresuan came into power and ordered the restoration and enlargement of the chedi and the temple was then named into Wat Yai Chaiya Mongkhon or The Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory.

Wat Phanan Choeng

This temple was built in 1324 and the story says that the Buddha have shed tears when the Burmese took hold of Ayutthaya in 1767.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Wat Chai Watthanaram or the Monastery of the Temple for the Advancement of Victory was built by King Prasat Thong in 1630 to make merit of his mother and to show himself as a man of great Buddhist merit. The temple was built where his mother resided in Ayutthaya.

The construction of the monastery took 20 years to be completed and one of the grandest and most monumental ruins of Ayutthaya. It was also said that all the kings of Ayutthaya regularly made pilgrimages to this sanctuary and attended royal funerals. In 1764-1767, the site was used as a stronghold against the Burmese based on the reinforcement of the walls and remains of cannons and cannon balls.

A student told me that the Burmese army beheaded the Buddhas as they were afraid that they were seen doing their evil deeds and would be punished, hence the headless Buddhas you can find today.

Bang Pa-in Royale Palace

This was also known as Summer Palace which original complex was constructed by King Prasat Thong in 1632 but was neglected until King Mongkut restored the site in mid-19th century. The rest of the palace was constructed by King Chulalongkorn between 1872 – 1889.

Wat Niwet Tham Prawat

Wat Niwet Tham Prawat is a monastery on Balen Island opposite the Bang Pa-In Palace south of Ayutthaya which was constructed in 1867 under the orders of King Rama V.

This temple is one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand, that was built following a western style or a European Gothic Church which made it look like a Catholic Cathedral than a Thai temple.

Almost every building on the island followed an Italian architecture, even the inside of the temple was decorated with stained glasses and other western ornaments which showcased western and Thai cultures.

Another unique feature of this island is its method of entrance where in visitors must take a simple cable car system which is accessible from the parking lot.

It was already late afternoon when we started to get tired due to too much sun yet, we haven’t visited much. Ayyuthaya is rich with ancient history, ruins, culture, etc. and it was a shame that I visited late. I promise to come visit more. I’ll even make a list.

For now, SANITISE!!!

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