Temple Hopping in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya Travel Blog› entry 112 of 174 › view all entries
January 3rd, 2010 – by: domnicella
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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