Sunday, January 03, 2021

Day trip to Ayutthaya Kingdom

I think the only time I have heard or learnt about Ayutthaya would be when we had History lessons back in school. So yes, that was a very long time ago. What I remember of it was that it is the Ancient Royal Kingdom of Thailand.

Visiting Ayutthaya was one of the must-do items on Dad's itinerary, so we signed up for a day tour, which stopped at several places. Some of these stops were better preserved than others, but I got a rough idea of how extensive the kingdom was.

The first stop was made at Wat Pukhao Thong, a Buddhist tower in the village of Pukhao Thong that was built by King Ramesuan in 1387. In 1569, when King Bayinaung of Hongsowadi (now a part of Myanmar) took Ayutthaya Kingdom, he had a large chedi of Mon style built to commemorate his victory. Over the next 2 centuries, the chedi fell into disrepair and was restored during the reign of King Boromakot, who opted to build a new chedi of Thai style, a square shape with indented corners, atop the base of the ruins of the old Mon style chedi.

Our second stop was at Wat Lokaya Sutha, where I took very few photos because I did not want to take photos of the Reclining Buddha image (the only one I took was this photo below, near where the bus was parked). Situated in the west of Ayutthaya Kingdom, it was found that the architectural styles of the Main Pagoda was built during the same period as the Main Pagoda of Wat Lokaya Suthawas. The Main Pagoda is situated in the centre, with three Sermon Halls situated in the front. Behind the Main Pagoda is where the Ordination Hall and a Viha residing the Reclining Buddha. From archaeological excavations, it was discovered that the temple was built during the Early Ayutthaya Period. In 1954, restoration works were conducted by re-sculpturing the whole Buddha image atop the old one and changing the head style to the style seen today.

Our third and final stop for the day trip was at Wat Mahathat in central Ayutthaya. It is the temple that houses the Buddha's relics and is famous among photographers who throng one corner of the whole complex to take photos of a Buddha head embedded in a banyan tree (which I did not bother to take because I could get millions of photos on Google Images and because there were too many people for me to get anywhere near it).

It is stated in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya that the construction of the Main Pagoda was started by King Borommachara I in 1374 and completed during King Ramesuan's reign. The Pagoda collapsed during the reign of King Songtham and renovated in 1633 when King Prasat Thong ascended the throne.

At the fall of Ayutthaya Kingdom in 1767 to the Burmese, the monastery was set on fire. The abandoned Pagoda fell into disrepair during the reign of King Rama VI, leaving behind only symmetrical base with stairs.

In 2499 B.E., an excavation by the Fine Arts Department found a cache containing many antiques, precious stones, and particularly, the relics of the Buddha that were well-preserved in the silver and bronze stupas. In the crystal stupa, a small golden casket was found containing relics, precious stones, golden rings, golden Buddha images and other ornaments.

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