Ayutthava

Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand for 417 years until it was destroyed by the Burmese 1767.  It was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong, also known as Rama Thibodi I.  It enjoyed its greatest period under King Narai the Great.  The Ayutthaya kings were not only Buddhist kings who ruled according to the dhamma (dharma), they were also devaraja, god-kings whose sacred power was associated with the Hindu, gods Indra and Vishnu.  To many Western observers, the kings of Ayutthaya were treated as if they were gods.  The French Abbe de Choisy, who came to Ayutthaya in 1685, wrote that, 'the king has absolute power.  He is truly the god of the Siamese: no-one dares to utter his name.'  Another 17th century writer, the Dutchman Van Vliet, remarked that the king of Siam was 'honoured and worshipped by his subjects more than a god.'

Ayutthaya's relations with its neighbours were not always cordial.  Wars were fought against Cambodia, Lanna, Lanchang (Laos), Pattani, and above all, Burma, Ayutthaya's powerful neighbour to the west.  Burmese power waxed and waned in cycles according to their administrative efficiency in the control of manpower.  Whenever Burma was in an expansionist phase, Ayutthaya suffered.  In 1569, King Bayinnaung captured Ayutthaya, initiating over a decade's subjection to the Burmese.  One of the greatest Thai military leaders, Prince (later King) Naresuan, then emerged to declare Ayutthaya's independence and to defeat the Burmese in several battles and skirmishes, culminating in the victory of Nong Sarai, when he killed the Burmese Crown Prince in combat on elephant back.

During the 18th century Burma again adopted an expansionist policy.  The kings of the Alaunghphaya Dynasty were intent on subduing the Ayutthaya kingdom, then in cultural and artistic prime. During the 1760's the Burmese armies inflicted severe defeats on the Thais, who had been somewhat too fortunate and complacent in having enjoyed over a century of comparative peace.  In April 1767, after a 15-month siege, Ayutthaya finally succumbed to the Burmese, who sacked and burnt the city, thus putting an end to one of the most politically glorious and culturally influential epochs in Thai history.

 

A bunch of cows running down one of the main streets of Ayutthaya.

Giant sleeping Buddha found at Wat Lokayasutha.

 

Wat ChaiMongKol.

This temple is also called 'Wat Chao Phraya Thai'.  It is located a few minutes outside of Ayutthaya.  It was built by King U-Thong in 1357 for meditation.  in 1792 when King Naresuan defeated Burmese by killing the Burmese Crown Prince in single-handed combat on elephant, he constructed the temple's large pagoda to match the high pagoda at Chedi Phu Phao Thong which had purportedly been built by the Burmese.

 

Wat Mahathat.

Wat Mahathat was begun during the reign of King Borommarachathirat I in 1374 A.D. but was completed during the reign of King Ramesuan (1388-1395 A.D.).  When King Songtham (1610-1628 A.D.) was in power the main prang (Khmerstyle tower) collapsed.  The restoration work on the prang was probably completed in the reign of King Prasatthong (1630-1655 A.D.).  During the restoration the height of the prang was considerably increased.

Wat Phananchoeng.

A massive golden Buddha-image seems to peer down at the people as they enter.  The image is believed to have been created in 1324, twenty-six years before Ayutthaya was founded.

 

Wat Phrasrisanphet.

The royal palace was located here from the establishment of Ayutthaya in the reign of King Ramathibodi I (1350 A.D.) to the reign of King Sam Phraya (1448 A.D.).  Later King Borommatrailokanat ordered a wat to be build on this site in 1448 A.D. to be used as a monastic area.

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Steve's Big Trip. Ayutthava. Start.Chaing MaiKoh LantaKoh SamuiKoh Yao NoiAngkor TemplesBattambangPhnom PenhSiem ReapSihanoukvilleChampassakLuang PrabangPak BengPakseSavannakhetVang ViengVientianeXeponDisaster. End.