If Greece has Parthenon, and Cambodia has Angkor Wat, then Thailand has its own Ayutthaya temples. Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand is the home of several temples that had survived the test of time.
BTW, I RATED AYUTTHAYA AS A PLACE NOT TO MISS IN THAILAND!
As per my own observation and also according to our tour guide, the city of Ayutthaya was once a flourishing and progressive city with a lot of hub for trade (since it is circled by three rivers). The Chinese, Burmese, and even Westerners went here for trade. This was once a place where a lot of people traded, lived, eat, pray and love (charot! haha)
In Ayutthaya, there are several temples, they are just a few meters away from each other. Basically, it’s a whole complex of temples. Just like Siam Reap’s Angkor Complex. BTW, I was unable to delineate each one of the temple I visited here in Ayutthaya (I failed to pay attention to our tour guide, because in a way the names of the temples are just so hard to remember, it is even harder to pronounce!) so in this blog post you’ll see a mix of pictures of several temples found in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya was once a populous and wealthy city, which has its own palace and villages, however, due to wear and tear, and don’t forget to include the occurrence of typhoons, floods and other natural occurrences, the only thing that you will see here are ruins, (well, except for some that survived the wrath of nature). Basically, what is left from this beautiful and once flourishing city are temples. The palaces and village homes are wrecked by nature because they are only made from wood, unlike temples that are made from rocks, brick or hard/heavy materials, the materials themselves explains why temples can stand the test of time. In Thailand, the temples are made from red bricks, and some are rocks akin to the ones found in Angkor Wat.
While standing in front of one of temples in Ayutthaya, I was imagining that I’m in Angkor Wat since the temples and ruins look almost the same with that in Cambodia. 🙂 However, unlike the temples in Cambodia (which is intact) here, most of what you’ll see are pillars and bricks. However, such fact did not make this experience less exciting since it is a different experience all together. And I just love the eerie feeling it projects! 🙂 Moreover, it is nice to visit one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Thailand. According to Wikipedia, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, a vast stretch of historical site in the heart of Ayutthaya city, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since December 13, 1991.
The ruins show that this place is a prosperous city before, it can be implied from the different and magnificent structures built during that time. Through the use of your imagination, you might as well see how grand the place is during the 17th century.
Well, for me, the most amazing part in Ayutthaya is the beauty of the ruins with nature as its backdrop. By the way, the photo seen below is one of my favorite parts of Ayutthaya, I just learned that the name of this temple (which is my favorite amongst the other temples) is Wat Phra Mahathat. This temple has a lot of small Buddha’s on its side (although most of the Buddha’s doesn’t have a head or a hand anymore) and on the center is the bigger Buddha statue, and according to our tour guide the Buddha in the center have different costumes during different seasons.
By the way, the cause of the missing parts of the Buddha is due to a Burmese attack in Siam some decades ago. The Burmese intentionally cut off the heads and some parts of the Buddha statues. Although there’s a lot of headless or hand less Buddha’s, the vibe here gives me goosebumps, so in a way I like it here.
I was also amazed on the site where the head (statue) of Buddha is stuck in a tree root. This can also be found in Wat Phra Mahathat. This kind of thing made me remember tomb raider. Well Tomb Raider is shot in Cambodia but I don’t know why Tomb Raider occurred to me during that time.
According to our tour guide, this particular head of Buddha was cut off during the Burmese attack. And during that time a monk is trying to hide it, so that he can preserve it, however, it’s so big that he cannot carry it, so he left it near the tree, and after some time, the tree roots wrapped the Buddha head. I was amazed by this, since it is somehow miraculous that the face of the Buddha was not covered by the roots of the tree.
By the way if you opt to take a picture with this tree, make sure that your head is lower than the Buddha head (so basically you should be squatting or seating), This is to show some kind of respect.
During our visit, there are only few tourist in sight, or let me say, there are none at all. 🙂 Or maybe because it’s not a peak season… (May??) Anyway, this is a place not to miss, you’ll learn and appreciate the place your visiting if you know about its past. And this is a good place to start. It is really a wonderful place, even my 4 year old nephew enjoyed this place.
In Ayutthaya you can also see a recent temple complex where inside you’ll see a big Buddha statue covered with Gold (Though I’m not sure if it is covered with real gold)
There are several ways to get here, it can be by van (which is the most convenient, especially if you have a tour guide), by train, by boat (for scenic views). Here is Wikipedia’s how to get there page. Since I have no idea on how to get there except riding our van (I paid a private tour– I’ll blog about it later.. 🙂 ).
1. If you’ve never been to Angkor Wat, Siam Reap Cambodia, then this place will be exciting for you since the place is like the Angkor temples (well, more like Angkor ruins). And even if you already saw the Angkor temples, the place is still beautiful since it has beautiful parks, landscapes, and elephants on the “run” — err, elephants carrying people around with their driver… 🙂
2. Bring and wear light clothing and comfortable shoes, and also clothes that will not show your knees or shoulders, it should be sleeved or else you will be forced to use their sarongs, which can cost you to up to P500.00 or 750 baht
3. If your tour includes a long tail boat, opt for the elephant ride instead, it is just so amazing and fun! If you are an animal activist (or protects the rights of animals) then instead of riding them, you can just feed them (It’s so much fun! promise!)
4. Don’t mind the vendors selling you souvenirs since usually they are a bit of a let down and also much expensive. Tell your guide to bring you in a market and start from there
5. Don’t forget to buy a sweet here (it’s ayutthaya’s specialty, however, I forgot what it is called) It looks like hair, pancit/noodles (as thin as a hair strand) but with the color of a cotton candy, and you wrap it in something like a crepe or lumpia wrapper (for filipinos: it looks like a lumpia or turon wrapper. If you go to a market you’ll definitely find one. It really taste nice! and according to our tour guide the taste is different if you buy it in Ayutthaya.