My pink frog nosed tuk-tuk driver knew exactly where to take me before the crowds descended on Ayutthaya (the Siamese kingdom that existed from 1351 to 1767). We headed straight to the beautiful Wat Chai Wattanaram temple. Wat Chai Wattanaram is located on the West bank of the river, and so geographically, it’s a good idea to get this one out of the way early. You can then stop off at Wat Phutthai Sawan on the way back to the historical centre.
Wat Chai Wattanaram Temple
Wat Chai Wattanaram is one of the most impressive temples of Ayutthaya. It was built in 1629 by King Prasat Tong, possibly on the site of his mother’s cremation.
Main Prang of Wat Chai Wattanaram
The main Prang in the centre of Wat Cha Wattanaram is on an elevated square platform and surrounded by four lesser prangs in each of the corners. It was constructed in the late 1700’s in early Ayutthaya period. Four sets of stairs lead up to the Chedi on each side.
The main Prang has 7 layer of indentation creating a corn-on the-cob style Chedi and a lotus shaped tip. The rooftops of the lesser prangs in each corner are triple tiered.
The Pagoda (Bell Shaped Chedi) at Wat Chai Wattanaram
The Chedi between the cloister and low Northern wall contains the relics of Prince Thammathibet (Prince Kung). It was constructed between 1733–1758 during the reign of King Borommakot to shelter the relics of his eldest son (Prince Thammathibet). Royals records state that Prince Thammathibet had an affair with Princess Sangwal who was one of King Barommakot’s concubines. as this was a crime, the Prince was whipped to death. The King ordered the bell shaped Chedi to be constructed after the cremation.
The Chedi is a bell shaped brick and mortar pagoda that was built in late Ayutthaya architectural style. There are traces of red paint around the Chedi and the tip is tapered into a Long Chanai (tapered spire).
Stucco Relief Panel depicting the Life of the Buddha
On the Northeastern spired roof hall there are 3 stucco panels depicting the life of the Buddha. The bottom part shows the mountains, forest and wild animals. The middle section is of 3 rows of praying angels, their hands and heads touching the ground. The top part is a Prasat (castle) showing a Buddha image on a lotus, unfortunately the Buddha head is missing.
Facebook Live from Wat Chai Wattanaram
I went live on Facebook from Wat Chai Wattanaram and the best part was when I went inside one of the Chedi’s and another tourist came in saying ‘Beautiful Buddha!’
Why are Buddha heads Missing in Ayutthaya?
Many of the Buddha head in Ayutthaya have been removed or chopped off — this is certainly evident at Wat Chai Wattanaram. When Siam was invaded by the Burmese in 1767, they chopped the heads off the Buddha’s in protest. Following this invasion, the Siamese moved their capital to Bangkok.
Some guides will tell you that some of the Buddha heads were found in museums United States, and have not been returned to Thailand after this was requested. Luckily, a handful survived…
Ayutthaya is just over an hours drive from Bangkok, two hours roughly by train. What’s your favourite Ayutthaya temple?
Originally published at www.templeseeker.com on July 10, 2018.