Wat Chaiwatthanaram is a Buddhist temple which is outstanding in its design from other temples in Ayutthaya. The holy place was announced to be the national historic site dated 8 March 1935, and it has been under preservation of the Department of Fine Arts until present. Furthermore, Wat Chaiwatthanaram is one of the ancient remains within the Ayutthaya Historical Park recognized by UNESCO as the world’s heritage site in culture officially on 13 December 1992. Today, the ancient monastery welcomes lots of tourist from all around the world to witness the grand beauty of this remarkable holy site, the real must-not-visit spot in Ayutthaya.
About the Temple
The old temple on the riverside of the Chao Phraya River. Stands dominantly on the west side of the Ayutthaya Town over the 160 meters wide and 310 meters long of space. The monastery faces to the east which is the ideology in temple building since the ancient time. Also, the belief in accord with the event in the story of Buddha which is “the Siddhattha Gotama Bodhisattva sat under the Bodhi Tree and faced to the east of the river Niranjana. He continued the meditative Dhyana to enlightenment”. The statue of Buddha enshrined as the central image of the temple here is the representative of the Buddha. The principal Buddha inside the ordination hall of the temple is the Buddha image in the attitude of meditation that is the attitude to present the most critical incident of Buddhism, the enlightenment of the Buddha.
History of Wat Chaiwatthanaram
Wat Chaiwatthanaram is an old Buddhist monastery in the late Ayutthaya Period. The place located in Ban Pom sub-district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya province on the west bank outside the city town.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram established in the reign of King Prasat Thong in 1630. Initially, the location of the temple was the residence of King Prasat Thong’s mother who passed away before the king succeeded the throne. Later, once King Prasat Thong accessed to the throne, thence he constructed Wat Chaiwatthanaram to dedicate the good deed to his mother. However, Prince Damrong Rajanubhab presumed that the temple might be founded as the memory of the victory to the Khmer Kingdom also since the character of the architecture at the temple is partially remind to the structure in Angkor Wat.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram considered one of the most vital holy places in the Ayutthaya Era, served as the venue to practice the good deed and the royal rites of all kings after the period of King Prasat Thong. Also, it was the venue to set the crematorium for numerous royalty which among those is King Borommakot or Mahathammaracha. Additionally, it is the grave of the master poet in the Ayutthaya Era, Krom Phra Ratchawang Bowonsathanmongkol or better known locally as ‘Chao Fa Gung’ (Prince Gung), a son of King Borommakot and Krommaluang Aphainuchit, the king’s consort, too.
Wat Chaiwatthanram features the beauty of the old-style architecture with the main pagoda and the satellite pagodas in four corners, and all of those are on the same platform. The grand stupa inherited the design of the construction at the beginning of Ayutthaya Kingdom; however, the one at Wat Chaiwatthanaram is unique with expansive veranda. It assumed that on the summit of the main pagoda might be enshrined with the miniature pagoda which referred to the “Chula Manee Chedi” on the top of Sumeru Mountain. The gallery circled around the main chedi that formerly sheltered with the roof. So-called the holy fence, inside the gallery are up to 120 statues of the Buddha in the attitude of subduing Mara that once lacquered and gilded. More than that, the satellite pagodas located in all eight directions which each one stored the Buddha image. The arched frames where the Buddha images enshrined are lacquered and gilded, as well as the wooden ceiling within.
1. Phra Prang Si Rattana Mahatha
Obviously, the most remarkable structure of the monastery complex here is “Phra Prang Si Rattana Mahathat,” the Khmer style construction in the heart of the compound that is the main structure of Wat Chaiwattanaram. The designed in solid with four faces on the squared platform with four gable ends. In four corners are the pagoda, and the top part of the grand stupa is 7-tier with the lotus bud on the spire that is similar to the design of the early Ayutthaya architecture.
2. The Satellite Pagodas
“the Satellite Pagodas,” the four small scale of stupas located around the main pagoda. The small pagodas are slimmer than the principal one, and there are the spired structures circled around the gallery in all 8 directions. Each one contained the Buddha image in the attitude of subduing Mara, and we can see the clue of mural painting on the wall surrounded the group of pagodas, too.
3. The Ordination Hall
“Phra Ubosot” (the ordination hall), the building is in front of the wall outside the gallery. Unluckily, only the platform of the structure that showed the design of squared structure with indented corners. It is 3 layers of the wall to fence this building, plus the compact size of chedis that built consequently.
4. The Gallery
“The Gallery,” located around the main pagoda. The eight secondary structures are mural painting inside with the classic Thai leave and Kranok pattern, however, it mostly dissolved. The outer wall of the stupa is 12 frames of the fresco art about the story of the Buddha; indeed most of them obscured (the record noted that they are the clear appearance in the past 20 years). The spired structure is seven tiers in descending order to support the summit of the structure. The significant summit of the pagoda derived from the crematory of the king in the Ayutthaya Era. The concept is ideal of Sumeru Mountain. Interessanterweise, the statues of Buddha enshrined inside the Meru pagodas in each corner of the balcony are similar to the design of the Buddha image called “Phra Buddha Nimitmaramolee Si Sanphet Borommatrailokkanat” or shortly “Phra Buddha Nimit” that is the royal attired Buddha enshrined at Wat Na Phra Meru in Ayutthaya. Assumingly, it succeeded in the primary repair in the reign of King Prasat Thong, also.
In accordant with the significant historic site of the country and also registered as the world’s heritage site. Hence, some rules need to be followed by the tourists by following;
- Do not sit and climb over the ancient remains.
- Do not grab or take any piece of the archeological finds from the site.
- Do not touch in any restrict area with the warning sign that possibly the fragile and sensitive area to be damaged.
- Do not write on the floor, wall, and on the ancient remains.
- Do not relocate any object in the historic site complex.
- Do not carry any weapon, explosive, fuel, or any chemical substances that may cause harm in the area of the ancient remains complex.
- Do not dump any rubbish in the ancient remains or any areas with no permission for the garbage.
- Do not practice any improper action which is contemptible or disgraceful toward the moral or religious belief and culture, also any efforts to disturb other visitors. Any violation will be punished in prison up to 1 month and fined up to THB10,000.
Operating Time and Admission Fee
Wat Chaiwatthanaram opens to the public every day between 8.00am – 6.00pm and during 7.30pm – 9.00pm the place will be spotlighted with the dazzled lighting. The visitor will be charged for the entrance at THB10 for Thai and THB50 for the foreigners.
How to Get to Wat Chaiwattanram
From Bangkok, drives on the expressway Bang Pa-In – Pak Kred (Udon Rattaya) to Ayutthaya. Then, enters the road number 347 and drives more about 20 km. So, turns right at Worachet Intersection and go straight for a kilometer and make a U-turn under the bridge. Then, go straight on for about 300 meters and turn left to enter the gangway of the temple and drives more 700 meters. The destination is on the left.
By Public Transport:
The van service is available at Mo Chit Bus Terminal, Victory Monument, and Future Park Rangsit. Otherwise, you can get on the train and off at the town of Ayutthaya and transit to the tricycle at Chao Prom Market to go to Wat Chaiwatthanaram.