December 28, 2013

Bangkok working trip – visit to Ayutthaya

I have been to Bangkok numerous times for work – in fact, I was there three times this year.  While I’ve seen most of what Bangkok has in terms of tourist attractions, I’ve never been to Ayutthaya.  So on my last trip to Bangkok in October, I extended my stay to visit Ayutthaya.

I read in travel forums that it is fairly easy to get to Ayutthya by public transport, so I made my way to the Victory Monument BTS station, and took a minivan from there.  The trip took about one hour, at the cost of 60 baht (if I am not mistaken).  It was a wet morning and by the time I arrived in Ayutthaya, it was still raining.  The van dropped me at Wat Phra Mahathat instead of the drop-off point in town, saving me time and extra expense to get to the temple.  Wat Phra Mahathat is a large temple that was quite thoroughly ransacked and set on fire by the Burmese in 1767.  Its claim to fame is the tree that has grown around a Buddha head.

Across the road from Wat Phra Mahathat is Wat Ratchaburana, established in 1424 by a Siamese king who ascended the throne after his two elder brothers killed each other in a battle over succession to the throne.  The temple was built at the cremation site of his two brothers.

Upon exiting Wat Ratchaburana, I hired a tuk tuk for 200 baht/hour, as the other temples are quite far away and scattered.  Our first stop was Wat Lokayasutharam.  Nothing much remains of this temple except for a largest reclining Buddha statue in Ayutthaya made of bricks and mortar and covered with plaster.

We then crossed the river to visit Wat Chai Wattanaram.  This is the best preserved temple in Ayutthaya, and a visually impressive one with the principal prang standing 35m high on an elevated terrace with four smaller prangs on each corner of the terrace.  It was built in 1630 by King Prasat Thong to honor his mother.  Wat Chai Wattanaram was conceived as a replica of the Angkor temple. 

Wat Yai Chaimongkhol features a large reclining Buddha in saffron robes, and a huge chedi surrounded by statues of Buddha wearing saffron robes.


Wat Phra Ram, consisting of one huge prang and some smaller chedis.  It was constructed on the cremation site of the first Ayutthayan monarch, King Ramathibodi I.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the most important temple of Ayutthaya, is known for its distinctive row of three restored chedis containing the ashes of three Ayutthaya kings.  Housed within the grounds of the former royal palace, the temple was used for royal religious ceremonies.  It also served as a model for the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.

 Foundations of buildings in the Grand Palace
Next to Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the Vihara Phra Mongkol Bophit which houses a large bronze cast Buddha image.

1 comment:

WK Liew said...

Wah overdosed of wats leh. You should also visit Bang Pa-In, the Thai Royal summer palace