Wat ayodhaya

Wat Ayothaya
Wat Ayothaya is located in the conserved area called “Muang Kao Ayothaya (the old city of Ayothaya)” at Hantra Sub-district, Phranakhon Si Ayutthaya District, and Phranakhon Si Ayutthaya Province. It is also called “Wat Si Ayothaya” or “Wat Derm (The original temple)”. According to the north historical annals, it was believed that the area of this temple was once the royal palace in Ayothaya period. Later the king governing the city donated the area to build the temple. As a result, the temple is called “Wat Derm (the original temple)”. It was the center of Ayothaya City on the bank of Pa Sak River. This happened before King U-Thong founded Krung Si Ayutthaya as the capital at the area called “Nong Sanoh (a swamp of a kind of water plants called Sanoh).

The legend of Wat Derm or Wat Ayothaya is the same as that of Wat Phutthai Sawan. It is only different with the belief in the legend of Wat Ayothaya that the center of the old city before the foundation of Krung Si Ayutthaya was in the east of the city Island on the Pa Sak River, but the legend of Wat Phutthai Sawan indicated that it was on the bank of the Chao Phraya River in the south of the city island (1).

In the reign King Narai the Great, Phra Buddha Khosajarn was the abbot of the temple. The abbot was the one who wrote “Rachowat Chadok” (A book telling about the existence of the Buddha and used to teach kings), and presented it to the King. Later Phra Ubalee became the other abbot of this temple (2).

Later, in the reign of King Boromakot, a monk named “Ruan” went to study in Krung Si Ayutthaya. He got “Prian (graduate of theology)” and was promoted to “Phra Phakul Thera” which was a clerical title of the monks who practiced transcendental meditation at this temple. After that King Boromakot promoted him to the rank of the abbot of Muang Sawangkhaburi at Wat Phra Fang (a temple in Uttaradit now). When Krung Si Ayutthaya was lastly destroyed in 1767, there were no heads to govern the chief cities. Many warriors promoted themselves to govern the chief cities. The abbot was believed by city people that he was proficient in magic spells. Therefore, he was disrobed, put on red clothes, promoted himself as “Chao Phra Fang” and became head of Chao Phra Fang clique by having many monks as army leaders. Finally, King Taksin of Thon Buri moved his troops to suppress him in 1670. The chief cities which belonged to Chao Phra Fang were defeated. Chao Phra Fang ran away and disappeared.

King Chulalongkorn, the fifth king of Rattanakosin (Bangkok period), took a trip to Ayutthaya in 1908 and stated that Wat Derm was an ancient temple built since Ayutthaya period. It was khammawasi temple (a temple in a city, town or village) situated in the middle of Ayothaya City. Therefore, the area has been believed being Ayothaya City since then. Later, the temple was newly named “Wat Ayothaya” in agreement with this belief (4).

The temple was situated on the canal near Wat Kudeedao. Nowadays, the canal has become the road in front of the temple which is situated at the mouth of the canal connecting to the other canal called “Hantra” in the north. The remains left in the religious area are the gate-posts of an entrance in the east. The gate-posts were made in twelve indented corners with 2.50 meters high. Next, there are two chedi constructed in the reign of King Chulalongkorn used to contain bone remains of abbots and their relatives. Next to the chedi, there was an ubosot newly constructed on the base of the old one in Ayutthaya period (5).

The old chedi at Wat Ayothaya (6)

Wat Ayothaya or Wat Derm was not mentioned in Ayutthaya annals about the renovation or restoration. On the contrary, it is believed that it might have been a royal temple, the place for the important abbots to stay and took religious roles in Ayutthaya period; for example, in the reign of King Narai, there was Somdej Phra Buddha Khosajarn who had great intellect in the Tripitaka. This abbot was believed to write “Rachowat Chadok”, a very important chadok (A book telling about existence of the Buddha) of Ayutthaya court (7).

Nor Na Parknam wrote and told about Wat Derm (Wat Ayothaya) in his book, Ha Duan klang Sak It tee Ayutthaya (Five Months among the Remains in Ayutthaya), “there is an octagonal chedi in Langka style (spherical pagoda shape with glass lotus base) situated on a high base which can be seen from the distance. The top of the chedi tumbled down, but the part on top of the bell-shaped chedi called “Banlang Than Taksin” was built very highly. It is strange and I have never seen the chedi like this before. The body of the chedi in bell shape was molded in the form of lotus petals overlapped each other similar to ones on top of a column. There are two sets of stairs, one in the front and the other one in the back of the chedi. The old Bai Sema (leaf-like boundary stones) of Wat Derm were made of white sand stone with the pattern of a big leaf from bodhi tree (the tree that the Buddha got his enlightment) in the middle. They are the old style of Bai Sema and the original ones that are left. The temple was rebuilt with a new ubosot and the bai sema were put in front of it. Another thing is the door façade made by the craftman in King Narai’s reign, and a Bai Sema in King Narai’s reign was put against it. As a result, it is believed that the temple was grandly renovated in King Narai reign. The chedi with the base made in twelve-indented corners was completely damaged and the ubosot was built instead at the area. The area around the temple was originally lowland, but the temple might have been built on a mound. The clue of it is still remained. Remarkably, the base of the chedi was built very highly. It may be the base of the original chedi which was renovated, and afterwards the octagonal chedi was built over it.

The General Remains
1. Two gates leading to the religious area, one in the east and the other one in the west. Visibly, there is only a gate in the east with no façade. A small building with four gable ends of two levels called ruankaew chaturamuk was built on each gate-post. Figures of overturned and faced up lotuses were put under the small buildings. The posts themselves were made in twelve-indented corners about 2.50 meters high.

2. When entering through the east gate, there is a pair of chedi, one on the left and the other on the right. They are square chedi with the form of lion legs under them. After asking a scholar, he said that the chedi were laterly built in the reign of King Chulalongkorn of Rattanakosin (Bangkok period). One was used to contain bone ashes of a head of monks named Tai, the abbot of the temple at that time. The other one was used to contain Mr. Sang’s and Mrs. Kasem’s bone ashes (the abbot’s, Tai, parents).

3. The present ubosot was constructed on the original base with 9 meters wide and 15 meters long. A Buddha image in the attitude of subduing the mara made of molded mortar is situated inside. It was said that the image was recently renovated. Once, King Chulalongkorn went to cover the original main Buddha image with gold leaves. The Buddha image might have been very beautiful, but due to the fact that the old ubosot did not have the roof, being deserted and uninterested, the Buddha image was naturally damaged or was destroyed by people who made profit from the image. The present main Buddha image is situated on the base with 1.44 meters high. The width of his lap is 3.50 meters long and he is 4.90 meters high. The old ubosot had two passages in the north and in the south. It was also said that both sides of the passages were built with levels. Later when the new ubosot was built on the original base, passages were not built on both sides. Nowadays, the ubosot was already decorated and painted.

4. Phra Prang (stupa) was situated behind the ubosot. The base of Phra Prang called Tarn Taksin was made in a square with twelve indented corners and 3.66 meters high. The base was built with two levels in the form of lotuses turning face down and up. On the second level between the lotuses turning face down and up, there were 7 apertures in the form of crosses. Nowadays, Phra Prang leaves only the remains about 3 meters higher than its base. The top of the stupa tumbled down. Only the patterns called “kleeb Khanoon” were seen, and they were said to be the style of craftmen in King Prasat Thong reign.

5. The main chedi has the base with the lower level in square with one meter high and with the models of lotuses turning faces up and down. The higher base is 7 meters high and also with the models of lotuses turning faces up and down. The base under the body of the chedi was octagonal and in the models of lotuses turning faces up and down, too. A set of stairs leads to the east side. The chedi is bell-shaped with two levels of models of lotus petals around it. The end of the lotus petals is graceful. On the top of the bell-shaped chedi, there is an octagonal base with small posts called “sao harn” on it with lotus-shaped models on top. The remains of the chedi are about 30 meters high. The chedi is nearly the same as that of Wat Maha That at Amphoe Sankhaburi in Chai Nat because they both have high bases. There is also the same style of Chedi at Wat Mae Nang Pleum in Phranakhon Si Ayutthaya. The special style of this kind of chedi is that the bell-shaped body contains very big models of lotus petals turning faces up decorated around it. Nowadays, only some parts of them are left.

6. Wihan (Vihara) is left only its monud about one meter high. According to the assumption, it might have been built the same time as the original ubosot. Inside the ubosot and the vihara were covered with ceramics made from baked clay in octagonal form with 40 centimeters wide and 5.3 centimeters thick. The floors covered with the ceramics mentioned were also put inbetween with square ceramics.

Additionally, the south of the main chedi is the area for monks’ accommodations. There were many monks staying in the area. Monks’ dwellings and a sermon hall were built on it. The people around the temple have used the area for religious rituals and ceremonies. Nowadays, the religious area was newly decorated with paintings inside the ubosot, Bai Sema (leaf-like boundary stone), and the Buddha images. The decoration made the ancient remains and the antiques changed. Only the main chedi still shows the ancient style.

Wat Ayothaya (Wat Derm) was declared and registered as a national historic site in 1943 with the declaration in the government gazette, volume 60, part 39, on July 20, 1943.

Inside the ubosot, there is a Buddha image molded with mortar and covered with gold leaves in the attitude of subduing the mara. In front of the ubosot, there is also a Buddha image in the attitude of doing meditation (8).

1. Kasetsiri, Chanwit. (2007). Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Foundation of Social Sciences and Humanities Projects, pp. 112-113.
2. The Conservation of Antiques, Ancient Ruins and Environment Society, Phranakhon Si
Ayutthaya Province. (1992). Laksana tang Kaiyapab khong Krung Si Ayutthaya (Physical Characteristics of Krung Si Ayutthaya). Phranakhon Si Ayutthaya: The Conservation of Antiques, Ancient Ruins and Environment Society, Phranakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, p. 45.
3. Referred, p. 46.
4. Kasetsiri, Chanwit. (2007). Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Foundation of Social Sciences and Humanities Projects, pp. 113.
5. Referred.
6. Thanomsri, Manop. (2004). A Picture in Ayutthaya: the Historic City, the World Heritage. Bangkok: P. P. World Media, p. 47.
7. Kasetsiri, Chanwit. (2007). Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Foundation of Social Sciences and Humanities Projects, pp. 113.
8. Chaipakdee, Rapeepan. (2005). A picture and caption in Khumeu Chom Silapa lae Sathapattayakam Thai Phranakhon Si Ayutthaya (A Manual for Thai Arts and Architecture, Phranakhon SiAyutthaya). Bangkok: Saengdad Pua Dek Press, p. 138.



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