On the day you go to visit Bang Pa-In the summer palace, you can also opt to go to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya were there are beautiful ancient temples at almost every turn. I had been to the ancient capital in my younger days when my Thai Professor took me on a trip to learn about our culture. I’m grateful for all she has taught me and the time she has spent. Last time I went to Bang Pa-In I wanted to visit the temples in Ayutthaya too but since I spent too much time in Bang Pa-In absorbing its beauty I made it to only one temple, but what a magnificent and beautiful temple it is: Wat Yai Chaimongkhon
This temple predates Ayutthaya and was initially a monastry constructed by King U-Thong in the buddhist era of 1900 (B.E.) for monks who had been ordained in Ceylon. This temple witnessed the fight between the then Kingdom of Siam and Burma over power and territory. It was a matter or who would be King and who would reign over this vast Kingdom. There was a particular battle though between King Naresuan of Siam and Phra Maha Uparacha of Burma which I am most Thai nationals must have heard of or read about in Thai literature. A poet beautifully described the battle and the slaying of Phra Maha Uparacha of Burma which happened on elephants. Yes, back then there were no airplanes nor armored vehicles. We used elephants and the greatest of warriors were swift and agile on the back of these warrior elephants. It is said that with one fatal blow of the sword, Phra Maha Uparacha was slain.
In honor of that decisive victory King Naresuan therefore had the Chedi (Stupa) at Wat Yai Chaimongkon built and to this day it is the highest structure in Ayutthaya. It’s so large you can climb up and see the view from the top. Mind you its a bit of a steep climb. Once you reach the top, you can make merit by praying to the buddhas which are seated inside the chedi and place gold leaves on them. It’s a tiny little area, but outside on a lower level is a little balcony which enables you to walk around the chedi and observe the view. Below you can see areas that were used for meditation and where monks lived.
My favorite part of the temple though is not up in the air but down below. Around the other base of the Chedi the walls are lined with buddha images cloaked in yellow. It’s beautiful and amazingly peaceful. Most of the crowds go up the Chedi. You feel at peace walking along the walls under the trees. This is how peaceful temples must have been in the past. Its mysterious and takes you back in time. This temple afterall is more than 600 years old (we are now in 2554 B.E.). There is just so much history here.
Further along you will also find the reclining buddha and smaller shrines where you can pray.
It should take you roughly an hour, but if you like taking pictures or just walking and taking in the atmosphere you might take longer. 🙂 It’s definitely worth a visit though and I must say one of the most picturesque temples. I will definitely have to make my way back to Ayutthaya one day. Once it stops raining and the sun isn’t so hot, I’ll be out and about a bit more. Are there any other temples you’ve been to and really liked? Please share 🙂 Afterall today is Visakha Bucha Day 🙂