Temple Hopping in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Travel Blog

 › entry 112 of 174 › view all entries
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Yesterday Romana, Richard, and I took a day trip to Ayutthaya, a former (and most recent) capital of Thailand.  The new city of Ayutthaya isn't particularly nice, and has cropped up all around the ruins of glory days long past, which are sprawled all over the place.  Hence a car (or big tour bus) is necessary.

We visited four temples, two that are preserved ruins and two that are very much alive and in use.  It was for the latter two that we deliberately timed our trip to be on a Sunday; we wanted to see the temples in action.

Our first stop was Wat Chai Wattanaram, which was a big green space (alas, no shady trees) on the river, directly opposite one of the palaces.
Wat Chai Wattanaram
  Perhaps it was because it was our first stop, but I was enamored.  Lots of crumbling brick and (sadly, headless) buddhas lining the walls, with towering stupas punctuating the grounds.  The archways and ceilings were decorated with now decaying wood; you could stand there envisioning how vibrant and ornate it had once been.  Wat Chai Wattanaram was probably my favorite.

Next up was Wat Phra Mahathat, which houses Ayutthaya's most photographed sight: a buddha head that has been overgrown with roots.  Wat Phra Mahathat requires more imagination, as the temple was sacked by the Burmese and most of it was destroyed.  Still, there are several stupas and similar still standing, and it was nice to wander around and marvel how old everything was.  Really mind-blowing stuff, when you think about it.
Wat Chai Wattanaram
  Wat Phra Mahathat reminded me of Pompeii, although the Italians are lightyears ahead of these guys with presenting the history and explaining exactly what it is you're looking at.  If the Thais get their act together and start offering that kind of (factual, not legendary, as the Thais are wont to do) information for these sights, it'd make them a killing, I'm sure.  There is so much history and substance just begging to be told.  It'd be fascinating.

Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol, the third temple we visited, houses both a monastery and a nunnery, and was swarming with worshippers.  There is a reclining buddha and an area with dozens of seated buddhas, all being offered incense and prayers and lotus flowers and goldleaf.  Behind the main worship area is a bigger, quieter area, a big square lined with buddhas on all sides.
Wat Chai Wattanaram
  They were dressed in their "winter clothes," meaning they were swathed in saffron colored robes (as with all buddhas this time of year), and were a sight to behold.  Hundreds of statues lined up and donned in gold.  Marvelous.

The last temple we visited, Wat Phanan Choeng, was by far the most active (read: jam-packed).  It is heavily influenced by the Chinese, and if the Chinese decorations hadn't made it immediately obvious, the hoards of people crammed inside (albeit none screaming or spitting) sure did.  We stayed to watch a weekly ceremony, whereby things are chanted and the worshippers parrot the chants back (as with any religion) while holding big silver platters with rolls of saffron material above their heads in offering.  After the material is blessed, the minister walks around collecting the material and launching it way over his head to a group of men standing on the buddha.
Wat Chai Wattanaram
  We're talking launching.  Dude looked like he should be competing in the discus throw for the Olympics.  Anyway.  So the material is unfolded, one end attached to the buddha, and after all the material has been launched, unfolded, and attached, the free ends are then thrown down to the worshippers sitting on the floor beneath the buddha.  The material is then unfurled and stretched back to the back of the room, each person holding on to one piece and covering his or her head with it.  This ritual enables them direct contact with the buddha, and is sacred.  It's pretty amazing to watch.

From Wat Phanan Choeng we collapsed into the car and drove back to Bangkok.  Ayutthaya is HOT, and we were exhausted.  Blazing sun, walking around ruins and temples all day, we were thoroughly worn out.  We scarfed a late lunch and some much needed AC, and then lounged around the apartment until bedtime.  It was a full, good day.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Fertility shrine at Wat Yai Chaya …
Fertility shrine at Wat Yai Chaya…
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol
Money tree at Wat Phanan Choeng
Money tree at Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Blessing the material at Wat Phana…
Blessing the material at Wat Phan…
Collecting the material at Wat Pha…
Collecting the material at Wat Ph…
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng
Ayutthaya
photo by: the_bloodsucker