Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blast from the Past - Ayutthaya

Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park
Note: This may be a little too much history for some of you. Honestly, I haven't even read through all of it. ;) No time! Most of this information was taken from Ayutthaya Travel's website and Wikitravel.
"Founded around 1350, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai. Throughout the centuries, the ideal location between China, India and the Malay Archipelago made Ayutthaya the trading capital of Asia and even the world. By 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Many international merchants set sail for Ayutthaya, from diverse regions as the Arab world, China, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands and France. Merchants from Europe proclaimed Ayutthaya as the finest city they had ever seen. Dutch and French maps of the city show grandeur with gold-laden palaces, large ceremonies and a huge float of trading vessels from all over the world. All this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city down to the ground.
Today, only a few remains might give a glimpse of the impressive city that Ayutthaya must have been. The city's remains are characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and big monasteries. Most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stone at that time. The great cultural value of Ayutthaya's ruins were officially recognized in 1991, when the Historic City became an UNESCO World Heritage Site." - Mostly taken from wikitravel
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet was situated on the premises of the royal palace which had been established in the reign of King Ramathibodi I (King U - Thong). In 1448 King Boroma-Tri-Loka-Nat dedicated the site of the palace to the construction of the temple. The important edifices in this temple are the three main stupas containing the ashes of King Boroma-Tri-Loka-Nat, King Boroma-Rachathirat III and King Ramathibodi II. It was a royal temple Kingdom of Ayutthaya, used for such important royal ceremonies as swearing allegiance and it also served as the royal family's private chapel and the place where the royal family's ashes were preserved. No monks resided here though they were occasionally invited for particular rites.
In 1499, a principal Viharn (hall of worship) was built. The following year, in 1500 A.D., King Ramathibodi II, commanded the casting of a standing Buddha image 16 meters in height and covered with gold. This image, Phra Buddha Chao Si Sanphet, was the main object of veneration in the royal Viharn. After that time the ashes of members of all royal family members and other the kings were placed in small chedis constructed at the site.
Bats coming out of one of the chedis at sunset.
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Mahathat is located to the east of the grand palace. It is the royal temple and most scared in Ayutthaya during glorious time. Buddha relics were enshrined in the Mahathat Chedi(the principal pagoda).
This monestery was once the residence of the Supreme Patriarch. The royal chronicle says that it was built in the reign of King Boroma-Rachathirat I in 1374 and completed in the reign of King Ramesuan. The main prang where the relic of the Lord Buddha was kept and found is originally 50 metres high.
When King Songtham (1610-1628 A.D.) was in power the main prang (Khmer-style tower) collapsed. The restoration work on the prang was probably completed in the reign of King Prasatthong (1630-1655 A.D.) During the restoration the height of the prang was considerably increased.
Wat Mahathat was restored once again during the reign of King Borommakot (1732-1758 A.D.) when four porticos were added to the main prang. In 1767 A.D. when Ayutthaya was sacked the wat was burnt and has since then been in ruins.
Wat Mahathat was a royal monastery and served as the seat of the Sangaraja. the head of the Buddhist monks of the Kamavasi Sect, since the time of the Mahathera Thammakanlayan, who was a contemporary of King Borommarachthriat I, and who built the wat.
Wat Mahathat used to house an unusual Buddha image made of green stone in the form of Buddha seated on a throne. In the Rattanakosin Period King Rama III had the image moved to Wat Naphrameru.
At present only the base can be seen as the top was broken down in 1911 in the reign of King Rama VI.
A large temple that was quite thoroughly ransacked by the Burmese. Several Leaning Prangs of Ayutthaya are still feebly defying gravity though, and the rows of headless Buddhas are atmospheric.
This is also where you can spot the famous tree that has grown around a Buddha head. There is no clear historical evidence of this Lord Buddha's head, but It is assumed that when Ayutthaya was defeated by Burmese army in B.E. 2310, the Mahathat temple was set on fire and entirely destroyed and as its result most of the images and parts fell to the ground. The temple was deserted for more than a hundred years and many trees had grown at the spot covering the head or in B.E. 2500 when the Department of Fine Art undertook restoration might have gathered all the remains but could not complete. Second assumption is a thief might have tried to steal but due its weight could not carry it across the wall or someone had come to the scene and the thief left it there until the tree covered it as we see at present.
Kneeling, kinda, to show respect because it is considered holy by Thais.
Wat Ratchaburana
In 1424 AD King Intharachathirat passed away. His two sons, Chao Aye Phraya who reigned over Suphanburi, and Chao Yi Phraya who reigned over Sanburi, met in battle as each desired the throne. This took place at the approach to the Pa-Than bridge and ended with the death of both sons. A third son, Chao-Sam Phraya came down from Phitsanulok and acceded to the throne whereupon he declared his intention to organize a funeral for his father and his two brothers. Afterwards he ordered the building of a wat, namely Wat Ratchaburana, at the site of the cremation and at the place where his brothers fought and died he had two chedis created in which to keep their ashes. In september of 1957 A.D. looters dug into a two-level crypt inside the main prang (Khmer-type tower) and stole a great quantity of valuable material. Police arrested some of these looters. The Fine Arts Department proceeded to excavate the site and found Buddha images and many artifacts made of gold. Among these were a large number of votive tablets made of gold and lead.
In 1958 A.D. the Fine Arts Department built a stairway so that one could go down into the crypt and look at the mural paintings which were also found there. Since the Buddha images and votive tablets discovere in the crypt were very numerous, the ministers of the government approved giving some of them to people who had contributed to the building of the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, much of the collection in which was found at Wat Ratchabutrana.
This temple stands out for having a large prang recently restored to its original condition, clearly visible if you come in from the east. The vault of Wat Ratchaburana is a rich source of information. It became known to the public when looters broke into the vault in 1957. It was a matter of days before the police caught the looters and were able to confiscate some treasures.
Staff of the Thai Fine Arts Department conducted a further excavation and discovered that there were the vault had three stories. Confiscated artifacts amounted to 2,000 items. Among them were more than 100,000 votive tablets and more than 100 kilograms of gold jewelry.
Wat Chai Watthanaram
Wat Chai Watthanaram was built in 1630 by King Prasat Thong to commemorate his mother's hometown and to celebrate his coronation. Important edifices are the main prang, surrounded by a number of minor prang at eight directions. It is believed that the main prang contains relics of the Lord Buddha and other idols.
This temple was also built to commemorate the victory over the Khmer. This is why it was built in Khmer architecture style. The temple layout was clearly planned to symbolize Buddhist cosmology. It is believed that the universe core was a gigantic mountain known as Mount Meru. The mountain is surrounded by concentric rings of seven cosmic oceans and seven mountains. At the four corners of the universe are the four continents where human beings live.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram was a royal monastery. It was a wat where the king and his descendants would perform religious rites: thus renovation would have been continuous. It was also used as a cremation site for princes, princesses, and other members of the royal family. When Prince Thammathibet died, for instance, King Borommakot decreed that an area in the Wat be used as the site for his cremation.
In 1767 A.D., Ayutthaya, the capital of Thailand, was besieged by Burmese invaders and the Wat became an army camp. After the fall of Ayutthaya, Wat Chai Watthanaram was abandoned.
Wat Jao Prab
Wat Yai Chaimongkhol
Wat Phra Chao Phya-thai, populary known as Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, is situated to the southeast of the city. The large chedi there can be seen from a great distance. This monastery was built by King U-Thong which exhumed the bodies of Chao Kaeo and Chao Thai who died of cholera, and cremated in 1357. The monastery was dedicated to the monks who had gone to study practical Buddhism in Ceylon. As the group gained the popularity, the King then appointed the head of the sect to become Somdet Phra Wannarat or the right supreme Patriarch. The temple was finally rebuilt in memorial of King Naresuan the Great for his victory over the Burmese.
The main Chedi of the temple is 62.10 meters in height and was built with 28,144 tons of brick. Even though the location was prepared to bear a lot of weights, the pressure from the Chedi was enormous and it pushed away underground water until the ground underneath the Chedi became hollow. As time passed, the Chedi started to sink as seen at present.
Initially, this monastery was constructed by King U - thong in 1900 B.E. to accommodate the monks that once were ordained from Phra Wanratana Mahathera Bureau in Ceylon.
Not sure of the temple name on this one.
Temple in the middle of town. Old and New.
Thai Life
Woman fishing near old ruins.
Looks a bit like Alabama
Street Food - Highlights of my Palette"
Night Food Market in Ayutthaya
Street Food - cheap, sometimes processed, sometimes fresh, and sometimes a surprise. I love trying the different street foods! From traditional pad thai, to fried scorpions, fish balls, milk roti, and bubble teas, the assortment is astonishing. I have problems deciding between the options and end up with more food than I bargained for. Look at all these choices! And this barely scratches the surface!
Angry Bird Pancakes
Tony's Bed & Breakfast in Ayutthaya, Thailand
div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on">

No comments: