Wat Phu Khao Thong.
This enormous chedi was built after King Naresuan’s victory over the Burmese. The site only had this one large stupa, and only a small collection of very small temples, but for some reason was one of my favorite of the day. It also reminded me, slightly, of the Mayan temples of the Mexican Yucatan. Here too you can see the water levels from the recent flooding and can then only further imagine how much this structure has had to endure over the centuries…
More info on Ayutthaya.
Couldn’t find too much information on this small site… so I guess I’ll just leave it at that!
Actually, I will just add that architectural aspects at this site relate to Khmer style, so archaeologist believe this temple to pre-date the founding of Ayutthaya, estimating construction to have occurred during in the 12th century.
More info on Ayutthaya.
Wat Maha That.
The “Temple of the Great Relics,” believed to be built during the 14th century forms the center of Ayutthaya, as well as the symbolic center of where the Buddha’s relics were enshrined.
The famous “Head of the Buddha” is located at this wat (Thai for ‘temple’), picture #8. You might also recognize the scenery from a little film called “Kickboxer“, a 1989 Van Damme movie. You can also see the centuries of flood damage that have taken their toll on the structures… actually quite amazing that after 700 years they are, for the most part, still standing.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (Wat Chao Phya-Thai).
Built by King U-Thong in 1357, it was first used by monks who returned from Ceylon after studying under Phra Vanarat Maha Thera. This group of monks was known as the Pa Kaeo Sect, and were engaged mainly in meditation.
Since this was the place where the patriarch lived, the monastery was named Wat Chao Phya-thai which means The Temple of the Supreme Patriarch. Various royals and other dignataries sought advice here during the Ayutthaya period.
In 1592, during the reign of King Naresuan the Great, the Burmese led an army to try to subjugate Ayutthaya. King Naresuan resisted the invasion on elephant back, proving victorious he pushed back the Burmese leader to the district of Nong Sarai. As history goes, King Naresuan’s army was not able to inflict greater damage on the Burmese because regiment reinforcements did not come in time. The King vowed to execute the officers of those regiments at the conclusion of the war, but Patriarch Vanarat begged the King to pardon them and advised him to build chedis (also known as ‘chupas’ or ‘pagodas’) in memory of his great victory. A large chedi was built for winning the war, and for the battle at Nong Sarai, which are the two large chedis you see in the photos. Since then, this temple has been known as Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, named after the main chedi (Phra Chedi Chai Mongkol), meaning “Chedi of the Auspicious Victory“.
There, you learned something today.
The grounds of this temple also houses a large reclining buddha, who was just getting tucked in…
As mentioned in my previous post we visited Ayuttaya, the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam. This city is literally littered with temples, one could spend days visiting them all.
We rented a tuk-tuk for the day (the blue one in the pics), and via a stack of postcards the driver carried along with him, we pointed to the ones we wanted to see… 5 in total. We were lucky that it was a special day as all the entrance fees were waved and many of the Buddhas and shrines were beautifully dressed up for the occasion (I have split the 5 temples into 5 separate blog posts, this being the first).
Wat Phanan Choeng.
The only “living” wat we visited, by which I mean that it is still used daily by many Thais for worshiping. It was a busy scene. The highlight of this wat, was the 20m tall golden gilded Buddha…
A busy, but wonderful day… sand, sun, beach, temples, views, amazing culinary treats… all climaxing to the New Years Eve parties on the beaches of Pattaya, Thailand!
Drove the motorbike to Jomtien Beach, on the opposite side of Pratumnak Hill for the better part of the day. Then meandered back to Pattaya Bay via the top of the hill where the Big Buddha calls home at Kao Phra Yai Wat temple. Then a lookout point and back to the beach… only this time in the center of crazy Pattaya.
Outside Hoi An, on the outskirts of Da Nang there is a set of 5 curiously tall rock formations… known as the Marble Mountains, each named after an element (metal, water, wood, fire, earth). Tucked away in/on them is an array of caves, Buddhist temples, pagodas and religious sanctuaries, which allow for spectacular views of nearby Da Nang city, as well as down the entire coastline. Which, much to my dismay, will soon be littered by hotel resorts crammed right next to each other. We drove the 30min via motorbike down the coast to Hoi An, and passed several brand-spanking-new resorts, with mapped out lots in between… all in the process of being built on. One can soon expect a Vietnamese version of horrible horrible Cancun (*barf*).
The streets that surround the mountains are filled with countless workshops and showrooms that house piles and piles of statues carved out of limestone… which is apparently shipped in from China.
Shhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.