Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wat Chaiwatthanaram – Ayutthaya

Wat Chaiwatthanaram – Ayutthaya
Wat Chaiwatthanaram is an imposing monastery located in the west of Ayutthaya on the Chao Phraya River.  It was constructed in 1630 by the king Prasat Thong as the first temple of his reign, as a memorial of his mother's resident in that area. The temple's name literally means the Temple of long reign and glorious era. It was designed in Khmer style which was popular in that time.  its architecture is similar to that of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and it may have been built to commemorate the King’s victory over Thailand’s neighbour. The temple comprises a main ‘prang’ (or tower) which is 35 meters tall surrounded by a series of smaller prangs situated alongside a gallery containing over 100 Buddha images. The temple is spacious and its well-kept grounds are peaceful. Well worth a visit if history and culture are your interest.
It has a central 35 meter high prang in Khmer style with four smaller prangs. The whole construction stands on a rectangular platform. About halfway up there are hidden entrances, to which steep stairs lead.
The central platform is surrounded by eight chedi-shaped chapels, which are connected by a rectangular cross-shaped passage (Phra Rabieng). The passage had numerous side entries and was originally roofed and open inwards, but today only the foundations of the pillars and the outside wall still stand. Along the wall, there were 120 sitting Buddha statues, probably painted in black and gold.
The eight chedi-like chapels are formed in a unique way. They had paintings on the interior walls, the exterior ones decorated by 12 reliefs depicting scenes from the life of Buddha (Jataka), which must be "read" clockwise. Just fragments of the paintings and the reliefs survived. In each of the rectangular chedis were two sitting Buddha statues and in each of the four middle chedis was one big sitting Buddha statue, also lacquered in black and gold. The ceiling over those statues was of wood with golden stars on black lacquer.
Outside of the passages on the east, close to the river was the temple's ordination hall (Phra Ubosot). North and south from the Ubusot stood two chedis with "12 indented corners", in which the ashes of the king's mother were laid.
After the total destruction of the old capital by the Burmese in 1767, from which Wat Chai Watthanaram was not spared, the temple was deserted. Theft, sale of bricks from the ruins and the beheading of the Buddha statues were common. Only in 1987 did the Thai Department of Fine Arts start restoring the site. In 1992 it was opened to the public.  (Wikipedia)
Admission to the temple is 50 Baht and opening hours are 08:00 to 18:00.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wat Phra Si Sanphet -Ayutthaya

Before coming into the temple, you will find a really beautiful Buddhist temple in which there is a huge Buddha image. I think it is at least 5 m. high.  This temple was really crowded, foreign and local people visit it to show their gratitude to Buddha.  About the old complex it was used as a residential palace; it became a monastery in the reign of King Ramathibodi I. When King Borom Trai Lokanat commanded new living quarters built, this residential palace was given to be a temple area, thus originating Wat Phra Si Sanphet: The royal chapel does not have any monks and novice inhabitants
Built in the reign of King Boromtrilokanath, Wat Phra Sri San Phet was the biggest temple in the area at its peak and is historically very significant. The temple is situated in a compound (similar to that of the Grand Palace in Bangkok) that was originally used as a royal palace and home to a number of kings during the Ayutthaya period. The design of the temple inspired the design of the Emerald Buddha Chapel in Bangkok and holds three large Chedi containing the ashes of three Ayutthayan kings. These Chedis have come to symbolize the essential qualities of Ayutthayan-period architecture and are much published images. Wat Phra Sri San Phet is the main attraction in a complex that has come to be known as the ‘Ancient Palace’ which houses some buildings of key historical importance including Chantharakasem (or ‘Front Palace’), Phlapphla Chaturamuk, Phiman Rattaya Hall, and Wanglang (or ‘Rear Palace’) as well as remnants of the ancient Palace Wall and Gate. This is a large site visitors can wander through to get a genuine feel for the Ayutthaya’s historic past. Quiet and in a pleasant environment, Wat Phra Si San Phet and the Ancient Palace are well worth spending a bit of time looking over.
Admission to Wat Phra Sri San Phet is 30 Baht and the temple is open 08:00 to 17:30 daily.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Elephant riding - Ayuttaya


There are many things that so far I haven’t done yet.  One of these was elephant riding.  The last time I rode an animal, a horse, was frankly speaking a really unfortunate experience.  I fell down violently from the horse, while the horse was running.  Happily I fell on the mud.  That is why I am still alive and writing for you all.
Last week, during the Songkran Festival my wife and I decided to visit Ayutthaya.   After visiting some temples that I posted the pictures on the previous post we decided to ride elephants.  In general, this was a nice experience; they are really strong and graceful animals.  In the historical time, this animal was used as a vehicle by the worrier in the war, and the white elephant was reserved for the King.  I have also learned about the fighting of King Naresuan riding on an elephant against Burma to become independent.
By the way, the elephant riding fee is BHT 200 per round for Thai (almost USD 6.5). and BHT 400 for foreigner (USD 13).