Walk Down Memory Lane In The Old Capital Of Siam

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¾ÃзÕè¹Ñè§äÍÈÇÃÃÂì·Ô¾ÍÒʹìThe Ayuddhaya province had charmingly been the capital city of Siam, the former name of Thailand, for 417 years. The city had achieved the most material prosperity and had also been the renowned human civilization before being terribly destroyed by the war against Burma or the present name Myanmar.

The province’s historical park was recorded in the book record of UNESCO as a “World Heritage Site”, which had been as the result of the remaining magnificent Buddha statues, temples and architectures, and historical sites that Thai ancestors had dedicated their lives to creating and building them up.
I distanced ourselves from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and washed our mind through the cultural journey in historical Ayuddhaya province and feasted our eyes with magnificent temples and sacred sites and found some real meaning of life. Actually, it’s like we were tracking back to the King Naresuan the Great who let the Thai army against the Burmese taking over Ayuddhaya and gained victory to secure Ayuddhaya’s independence and liberated Siam from Burmese during the 16th century.
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I arrived in Ayuddhaya with the big sack of cameras and a pretty backpack attached and the hope of paying homage to Buddha images in the province’s significant temples as much as possible in one day. Making merit or pay homage to some sacred sites is also regarded as one of good things that Thais should commit for our father (The King Bhumibol Adulyadej) as it will bring me a good fortune and a better life as well.

I choose to travel to Ayuddhaya because the province has many magnificent temples and beautiful sacred sites as the transportation channel between Ayuddhaya and Bangkok is very convenient. I once visited Ayuddhaya before with my family and could still remember the rustic atmosphere and the rural areas between the highways leading to Ayuddhaya. It was the vast landscape for growing rice and farming area. Now, 20 years have passed, many factories have been gradually taking the place of farm lands and other agricultural areas. Anyway, only a few farming areas and greenery area can still be seen to reflect the rustic charm or the rural way of life.

It took about two hours before reaching at the historical Ayuddhaya province. I could see some foreign travelers biking around the city in the morning as some travelers opted to walk as a way to exercise while enjoy and see the beautiful scene of ancient city of Ayuddhaya in the morning.

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The overall climate and atmosphere at Ayuddhaya is completely different to Bangkok’s. You can breathe the fresh air to add power or fuel of life here in Ayuddhaya. The road is truly smooth, clean, and good condition and traffic here is also free flowing, plus the Ayuddhaya people are generous and friendly as well. No wonder why the province is one of the country’s must-visited cultural tourist destinations.

Most of the local people living in the province are farmer or agriculturist. Aside from just farming, the province is also famous for the flavorful “Roti Sai Mai” (Deep-stirred Sugar Wrapped with Soft Sheets of Bread), which is regarded as one of the small and medium-sized enterprises of most households in the central town.

I took Sam Lhor (Tricycle taxi) to get to the downtown in search of any convenient guest house where I can stay and easily connect to other roads and nearby temples since I had to travel to pay worship or homage to many temples in the next day. My first stop to pay respect was “The Monument of The King Naresuan the Great”, which is situated on Thung Makham Yom. The monument was established to honor the King Naresuan whose huge attribution to the country. There are many colorful small statues of fighting chicken and two giant statues of fighting chicken placed in front of the monument. I found lot of salutary and ritual items such as incenses, candles, and flowers that worshipers and travelers who came here to pay respect and left them behind. Meanwhile, the back of the monument is the exquisite carved stone depicting a mission of the King Naresuan before opening war with Burma or Myanmar to secure Ayuddhaya’s independence.
I spent about 15 minutes taking pictures of the monument before moving to Wat Phra Chedi Phukhao Thong, which was the first temple to pay homage. One of the most outstanding architectures of this temple is the stunning white pagoda that you can see it from a far. The pagoda has been said that it was built during early Ayuddhaya period or more than 400 years ago.

Wat Worachet Tharam was my next moral visit. The temple is adjacent to Khlong Tho, west of Wat Worapho. The temple was built by the request of Somdej Ekathossarot as a memorial to the King Naresuan, who died in AD1605. What you can see in the present time is the collapsed structure and mortars, broken Buddha statues, and the remaining broken bricks, which is as a result of the war against foreign enemies in the past. Even if the roof of the temple’s grand hall or ubosot was destroyed, the giant Buddha statue in the ubosot is still in good condition while the light and the blue sky shining from above helps make the Buddha statue more charming. Meanwhile, the outside of the temple’s ordination hall is the remaining destructive wall, broken bricks and mortars because of war in the past. Even if the time has passed and changed the condition of this historic site, it still reminds me about the great development of Buddhism during Ayuddhaya period.

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I was then guided to Wat Phra Non (The Temple of The Reclining Buddha), where you will find the giant reclining Buddha statue, which is as tantalizing as the one that you can see at Wat Prachetuphon or Wat Pho in Bangkok, which is Bangkok’s biggest reclining Buddha statue. Anyway, the country’s biggest reclining Buddha statue is situated at Petchaburi province.

This moral tourism would never be completed without visiting this ancient Wat Yai Chai Mongkol or Wat Choa Phya, which is a royal temple. It’s situated in Tambol Khlong Suan Phlu, Phra Nakhon Sri Ayuddhaya district. The temple was formerly known as “Wat Pa Kaeo”. There is a large pagoda named “Phra Chedi Chaiyamonkol” and a shrine that is the home to a reclining Buddha image, and the Tam Nak (Royal Palace or Residence) of the King Naresuan inside the temple as well.

According to the history record, the temple was built by the behest of Phra Chao U-Thong or the king Rama I of Ayuddhaya period during AD1357 to house the monks that went to study Dhamma in Sri Lanka. The temple was used as the pilgrimage place of Somdej Phra Runnarat during the rains retreat or Khao Phan Sa period (three lunar months) when monks have to stay at the temple.

Think of Ayuddhaya, everyone usually thinks of visiting temples and historical sites as paying homage to ancient temples is regarded as a must-do activity in the province. So don’t be surprised if you will continually see galore of foreign tourists, including local, coming here to pay a visit, to pay homage to the temple, and also to feast their eyes with the ancient charm of the old Siam, temple, the large pagoda, stupa, and shrine.

The significant Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is situated on the north of Phra Mongkol Bophit Vihara, which was built within the boundary of a palace like the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The temple covers the vast landscape and there are several ancient shrines and stupas in the area, which even if the time has passed, but the priceless beauty and the valuable artistry that our ancestors jointly built still remains in the bottom of my heart and the heart of all Thai people as well. It was established for various important religious rituals and ceremonies. This temple does not have any monks residing within.

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Considering about the way or the method of the construction of the temple, most of ancient Thai temples were built through placing and joining bricks together, which is the clear evidence to show that Thai ancestors were very intelligent, dexterous, and strenuous in building the temple since there were no any hi-tech construction equipments and other supportive engines available at the time. It might be time-consuming, but the result is worth as it now turns out to be the World’s heritage, the valuable art and culture that Thai ancestors built.

Wat Suwan Dararam is highly recommended if you need to know more about primary history of the King Naresuan. The temple was built during late Ayuddhaya during the era of Somdej Phra Prathom Boromratchanok (Thong Dee) who ordered to have the temple built. The temple is outstanding for its artistic wall and mural painting in the central hall. The temple has been renovated and developed several time until the reign of the King Rama VI of Chakri Dynasty. The king allowed the veteran artist to paint murals on the wall of the grand hall describing about great historical stories. Wat Suwan Dararam is regarded as the symbol of Chakri Dynasty and was registered as the country’s magnificent historical site on the Royal Gazette No.52 on Mar 8, 1935.

In my opinion, Thailand is not only abundant with natural beauties; there are many cultural-oriented destinations and heritage sites located sporadically in Ayuddhaya, Sukhothai, Ban Chiang, Haripunjaya, Lanna, Lopburi, including Bangkok. It’s actually like the seed of antiques that are scatteringly sowed throughout Thailand waiting to be explored by you.

In Ayuddhaya, there are many temples, shrines, sacred sites, monasteries, and tons of cultural spots that you can access within a short walk or only few minutes. It’s imply said that Ayuddhaya is the cluster of cultural and heritage tourist destinations where you can walk or choose to take a bicycle biking around the city to enjoy the best scene of sunset and sunrise, ancient temples, and the nearby attractions of the province to your heart’s content. It’s the natural way and the real way of cultural tourism as it also helps the nation and the world save the oil, energy, and natural power. And even if this is not a kind of an eye-opening experience for many people, but at least, we can realize and open up new thought that war or fighting between neighbors, regardless of who is right or wrong, brings no benefit to all sides as on one is the real winner in the war as we could see the ruin in Ayuddhaya as the evidence.

Transportation

By Car
Take Highway No.1 on Phaholyothin Road and then take Highway No.32 to Ayuddhaya.

By Bus
Take ordinary and air-conditioned bus at Mochit 2 Bus Terminal. The bus will leave for Ayuddhaya in every 20 minutes from 5am-7pm. The fare is about Bt30-47, taking about 2hrs.

By Train
Train will leave Bangkok for Ayuddhaya at Hua Lamphong Station every hour from 4.20am-10pm. The third class fares is Bt15. Train schedules and other info, contact 0-2223-7010 or 1690

By Boat
There are no scheduled service boat between Bangkok and Ayuddhaya. But there are companies in Bangkok operate luxury cruise from Bangkok to Ayuddhaya. The price is available at Bt1,500-Bt1,800 per person. Walk in and check for more info and price at River City Pier in Bangkok.