Ayutthaya is a city in Thailand located around 80 km north of Bangkok. This historically important place lies atop an island on the confluence of three rivers – Lopburi, Chao Phraya, and Pa Sak. Ayutthaya is popular as the prosperous, ancient capital of the Kingdom of Siam which was destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767. The city now houses the old ruins, which form the Ayutthaya Historical Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are Buddha statues, Buddhist temples, monasteries and palaces here.
It’s a must-visit attraction, especially for history buffs. Take a look at some of the important temples or Wats of Ayutthaya.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the most beautiful and important historical temple of old Ayutthaya. The temple ruin was part of the now-collapsed Royal Palace and served as its Royal Monastery. Its three large chedis or stupas, which contained the royal relics of three Ayutthaya Kings, are among the few structures on the temple grounds that are still standing.
Wat Mahathat is a now ruined temple, which was built in 1384. The temple’s principal prang (tall tower-like spire, which is generally richly carved) still stands today and is considered one of the most remarkable structures of the old city. Its various prangs are believed to have contained many treasures, including gold jewellery and a relic of the Buddha within a gold casket. Another important attraction of this temple is the site where a Buddha’s head has been entrapped by the roots of an overgrown banyan tree.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol was built on huge, landscaped grounds and is considered to be one of the best-preserved ancient royal monasteries. The temple is renowned for a large reclining Buddha statue and a 62-metre long inverted bell-shaped chedi, which was set up to celebrate the victory of King Naresuan over the Burmese.
The ruined royal temple of Wat Chaiwatthanaram principal prang is a 35-meter tall structure surrounded by several smaller prangs. These are located along a gallery containing more than 100 images of Lord Buddha. Its principal prang has four sets of very steep stairs and one should be very careful while climbing these.
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng has no record whatsoever indicating who built it or when it was built. The temple houses a formidable and gigantic seated Buddha statue, which is highly revered by the locals.
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit is thriving temple compound, home to one of the largest bronze gilded Buddha statues in Thailand. Apart from this 17-metre tall Buddha statue, there are several other smaller images of Lord Buddha in the temple grounds.