‘Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya’ or ‘Ayutthaya’ for short is known as Thailand’s “historic” city. It holds many ancient Thai monuments and temples. In the olden days, Ayutthaya was once the main city used for trading amongst different countries like China, Portugal, English, French, Persia, and many more. Currently, it lies about 70 kilometers away from Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. There are many places in Ayutthaya that are interesting to visit but the most intriguing of them all is the Ruins. The Ruins of Ayutthaya tells a story about Thai culture and people. So, if you are in the mood to take a walk back in time, here are some places that you shouldn’t miss!
1. Ayuttaya Historical Park
Here’s an interesting fact: a part of Ayutthaya Historical Park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site back in 1991! This park covers the remains of an old city in Ayutthaya after it was taken over by the Burmese in 1767 and burnt to the ground. It is known today as a very precious archaeological site for Thai people. If you happen to visit the place, you can expect to see the remains of ‘prangs’ (towers) and Buddhist temples. You can pay to be guided along the historic city by a tour guide and enjoy taking pictures of old ancient buildings that despite their gruesome history, still stood strong after all these years.
2. Wat Mahathat
This is the one temple in Ayutthaya that you cannot miss. Its name can be translated into “Temple of the Great Relic”. Wat Mahathat used to be a sacred place where all the religious ceremonies take place for all the kings, queens, and high priests of Ayutthaya. There are two things that you absolutely need to see if you happen to visit this place. The first thing is the giant stupa that houses Lord Buddha’s Relic, it is said to contain all the kingdom’s treasure inside the remains of this Khmer-styled stupa. The second thing is the head of a sandstone buddha engulfed by the roots of an ancient Bodhi Tree. It is said that the head of the Buddha was left behind after a theft that happened hundreds of years ago and somehow the thieves never came back to recollect it.
3. Wat Chaiwatthanaram
Built in 1630 by King Prasat Thong to honor his mother and located near the bank of Chao Praya River is a temple that was built very differently from other ancient temples. This temple features the architectural style of Angkor Temple in Cambodia, it has one large stupa surrounded by many small stupas that represent mount Sumeru. This temple has become one of the most popular places for tourists to come and explore. It’s particularly beautiful to look at just before sunset or during a thunderstorm when lightning strikes it.
4. Wat Phra Sri Sanphet
In 1742, during the reign of King Borommakot the restoration of Wat Phra Sri Sanphet began, it took more than a year to complete the renovation. This temple was then used exclusively by Ayutthayan kings since it is a part of the Royal Palace. Wat Phra Sri Sanphet was said to contain the bone relics of the Kings of Ayutthaya. When Ayutthaya fell by the hands of Burma in 1767, the whole place was burnt to ashes, only leaving behind Chedi’s made by the late kings. Whatever images of the Buddha that used to be in the temple were taken away and all the gold was melted. To this day all the restored ruins of this temple includes all the buildings that survived the Burmese attack in 1767. If you are interested to learn about what happened in 1767 be sure to give this Temple a visit! You will not be disappointed.
5. Wat Ratchaburana
Located north to Wat Mahathat and characterized by its main ‘Prang’ that is said to be the finest in Ayutthaya city lies Wat Ratchaburana, a temple built in cremation of King Borommarachathirat II’s two elder brothers who fought to their deaths in a duel for the royal succession after their father, Intha Racha. Wat Ratchaburana is said to be very iconic for its role in Thai history. Thus, earning its popularity amongst all the tourists who happen to travel to Ayutthaya.
6. Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
Nicknamed as “The Forest Temple” for its location in the forest, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon was built in the 1400s to symbolize Thailand’s’ victory against Burma. It is famous for its huge 62 meters Chedi and all the Statues of Lord Buddha surrounding it. Unlike the other temples mentioned so far, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is still an active place for monks. The people of Thailand visit this temple not only to pay their respects to Lord Buddha, but also to pay homage to one of their most respected kings in Thai History, King Naresuan. Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is also home to the original statue of ‘The Reclining Buddha’ (the Sleeping Buddha) during the reign of King Naresuan. Although, sadly, the statue you see today is a 1960s remake of the original it is well worth it to admire the beauty of what was once a great sculpture of the Sleeping Buddha.
In conclusion, Ayutthaya one of the greatest landmarks of Thailand. Thai people take great pride in taking care of these sacred ancient places so that the future generation can have a chance to admire what was once the capital of Thailand. Ayutthaya allows people from all over the world to come and learn about Thai history and culture together, you can admire the beauty of old historical sites and take photos to keep your memories of the place alive. Ayutthaya temples also resemble the great belief in Buddhism that Thai people once had (and still hold) for Lord Buddha. All the statues and Chedi’s constructed in the temples hold great power above Thai people because it represents their past kings and queens. Therefore, to visit any of these places in Ayutthaya would be the highlight of your trip to Thailand.