07 December, 2007

Ayutthaya, Thailand Postcards

The Ayutthaya historical park covers the ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, which was founded by King Ramathibodi I in 1350 and was the capital of the country until its destruction by the Burmese army in 1767. The park was declared a UNESCO World heritage site in 1981.

Founded c. 1350, Ayutthaya became the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. It was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century. Its remains, characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries, give an idea of its past splendour.

Wat Mahathat Postcard 1
(Bought by my sister during her visit to Bangkok)

According to tradition, Wat Mahathat was built in 1384 by King Rachatirat to house a relic of the Buddha, but it is more likely it was built during the reign of King Boromaraja I (1370-88). Wat Mahathat is typical of the Ayutthaya ruins: large crumbling stupas surrounded by low laterite walls and rows of headless Buddhas. One Buddha-head is in a tree trunk (postcard below).

Wat Mahathat Postcard 2
(Bought by my sister during her visit to Bangkok)


The temple's prang, at 46 m (150 ft) high, is one of the old city's most impressive edifices. With its picturesquely ruined stupas, Wat Mahathat is a great place to be at sunset. Scattered around the temple are some important remains of variously shaped prangs and chedis, in particular an octagonal chedi with a truncated spire in the Ceylonese style. Nearby, the head of a still much-revered statue of the Buddha lies on the ground.

Wat Ratchaburana Postcard
(Bought by my sister during her visit to Bangkok)


Opposite Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya stands Wat Ratchaburana, built in 1424 and splendidly restored. The towers (both rounded Khmer-style prangs and Sukhothai-style pointed chedis) have even retained some of their original stucco. There are also murals, rows of seated Buddhas, standing disciples, and Jataka (tales from the Buddha's former lives) scenes in the four niches, as well as a frieze of heavenly beings and some Chinese scenes.

SOURCES:
Ayutthaya historical park Wikipedia Entry
UNESCO World Heritage: Historic City of Ayutthaya
Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya
Wat Ratchaburana, Ayutthaya

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