Ayutthaya – Thailand’s Old City
© Copyright on all photographs – Allan Rufus
85 km north of Bangkok (Now the Capital city of Thailand) you will find the ancient city of Ayuttaya. Ayutthaya was Thailand’s ( or Siam as it was called in 1351) 2nd Ancient Capital City, after Sukhothai. It was the Capital City for 417 years and it was know as one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East at that time,
33 kings had ruled during this period starting with King Uthong in 1893 BE, until its downfall after the invasion of the Burmese troops after on/off fighting with them over a long period of about 300 years in 2310 BE. Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese troops after a siege, but had they waited another 20 days, the flood waters may have saved the city.
Ayuttaya then became a colony of Burma for about 15 years, until the young 15 year old Prince Naresuan returned to Ayuttaha from Burma and declared independence for Ayutthaya. He was the 18th King, and reigned Ayutthaya for 15 years from 2133 to 2148 and during this time there was another battle between the Thai and Burmese troops called “A war elephant”. A hand to hand combat on elephants in which the Burmese Prince was killed and this prevented wars for about a hundred years between these two nations. After King Naresuan died in 2148 B.E. there was peace for a long time, but internally there were a lot of assassinations of the kings, and new rulers taking their place.
King Suriyamarindhara reigned from 2301 until the destruction of Ayutthaya in 2310 B.E. During his reign there were a lot of unhappy nobles and they were disappointed with him and they left his administration to become monks. Mean while, the Burmese had seen the chaos that was gripping the Kingdom and decided to once again attack. They conquered all the cities on the way to Ayutthaya. The King was un-capable to rule and he asked Prince Uthoomporn to reign and command the forces and battle the Burmese troops. But after a while, the ex King wished to rule again so the Prince got annoyed and gave up the reigns to the King and went back into the monk-hood. But King Ekkatat as he was known, loved to entertain and loved women and did not take his duties seriously. The Burmese army arrived and besieged the city for a year, digging tunnels and eventually started burning down the city walls.
The Burmese army entered Ayutthaya on the 7th April 2310 BE (Year of the pig). The army killed the inhabitants and robbed the city and burnt down the Great City, which brought the curtain down its glorious prosperity status, its politics and its influence on culture.
The King Naresuan Monument is dedicated to the 18th King who’s numerous military accomplishments re-took Ayutthaya from Burmese rule and asserting Siamese independence once again. Before this, the prince had proved himself as a skilled fighter with a keen sense of military strategy. The Burmese King had sent his troops out to defeat the prince and to kill him and his troops. However, Prince Naresuan defeated the Burmese army and then extended the Siamese territories.
The monument shows the King on horseback, in which he killed the Burmese general with a strike of his lance. Each of the depictions shows a story about the King. The dream about killing the alligator was a sign of great victory over the Burmese. The one where he is pouring water on the ground represents his announcement that he would seek independence from the Burmese.
There are some huge roosters at this site, and the story goes that Prince Naresuan wagered a bet with the Burmese Prince that if his rooster won, Ayutthaya would be freed from the Burmese. His rooster won, and the Burmese Prince was humiliated, and hence the city was saved and the Burmese were defeated.
This monastery was built by the 2nd King, King Ramesuan, at Phukhao Thong or the “Monastery of the Golden Mount.
A temple puppy relaxing and having a morning snooze!
You cannot go anywhere and not see the beautiful roosters that wonder around the temples.
Below is a map of the old city of Ayuttaya. Here you can see how it was surrounded by rivers in which it used to not only bring trade, but also to defend itself against invading armies.
Wat (Temple) Mahathat construction started in 1374 AD during King Borommarachathairat the 1st rule (3rd King). It was a royal monastery and the seat of the head of the Buddhist Monks of the Kamavasi Sect.
It is assumed that after 100 years after the temple was destroyed and burned, most of the Buddha images fell to the ground, and nature took over, and a bodhi tree had encased itself around this Buddha head. This is one of the most famous images of Thailand, and the ancient city of Ayutthaya.
The ancient city had many temples on the island, and in its day, they must have looked fabulous. Now only ruins left for future generations to see.
The Pagoda of Queen Suriyothai below is dedicated to the Queen who was killed in the battle against the Burmese, on the back of her elephant, at Pu Kao Tong (Golden Mountain) field in 2091 B.E.
Queen Suriyothai was concerned about her husband, the 15th King, so she dressed herself up in mans clothing and got on her elephant and rode into battle, where she happened to get in-front of the King who’s elephant had been killed and the Burmese King was about to kill the Thai king, but Queen Suriyothai got in-between them and sacrificed her life for the Kings life. After the Burmese King found out he had killed a women, he felt ashamed and withdrew from the battle field leaving Siam. The Queen had sacrificed herself for her husband, the King and for her Country. She is still to this day venerated and revered in Thailand for her bravery.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram, was an imposing Buddhist monastery and was built by King Prasatthong (24th King) in 1630 AD (Not on the island). It was created to make merit to his mother, and the architecture is based on Angor Wat in Cambodia to commemorate the victory over them.
It was a royal monastery where the King and his descendants would perform religious rites. It was also used as a cremation site for princes, princesses and other royal family members.
In 1767 AD Ayuttaha was invaded and the temple became an army camp, and was therefore abandoned and looted.
Ayutthaya is an island at the confluence of three rivers: the Chao Phraya River, the Lopburi River and the Pa Sak River which was and still is the life line of this Great Ancient City.
This photo below shows the water mark of the floods in 2011 at Wat Chaiwatthanaram, where this whole area was under water, and has done damage to the ancient city of all Ayutthaya structures.
Loads more to come, so please join me along my journey….
Also – The Master’s Sacred Knowledge by Allan Rufus. An inner journey of self discovery to the heart!