The Temples of Ayutthaya
Updated: Sep 7, 2020
Ayutthaya is an ancient capital city in Thailand which is 85 kilometers from Bangkok. It is the home of some of Bangkok’s historical and ancient temples. I wasn’t planning on going to Bangkok. But my youngest sisters, the twins planned to go there with my cousin and her friends and the two of them would continue to Phuket. Always protective of my baby sisters (yes, I still see them as babies), I told them I wouldn’t allow them to go to Phuket unaccompanied. So, I decided to tag myself and my other sisters along with the group. So, off to Bangkok we went and one of the itineraries was to visit Ayutthaya. You can travel to Ayutthaya from Bangkok by bus, by train or by car. Traveling to Ayutthaya takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes. Since we were quite a large group, we asked our hotel to arrange a van for us. We got a list of temples to visit that day but we only went to three of them. You know, when you want to go exploring, one day is not enough. The first temple we visited was the Wat Yai Chaya Monkol. Wat means temple and it comes from Sanskrit vāṭa which means enclosure. I don’t really know how to describe temples. For me, like churches, they all look the same. Once you see one, you have seen them all. The architecture is quite unique and it is one of those temples which is still intact. You can also find the reclining Buddha in this temple.
We were having our picture taken with the reclining Buddha and a group of Japanese tourists were also there waiting for us. One of them was smiling at me. Thinking he was just being friendly, I smiled back and then I realized they were waiting for us to scram. :)
Next to visit was the Wat Phra Si Sanphet. This temple was considered the holiest temple in Ayutthaya. It was destroyed but the ruins remained standing. The structure is distinctive and beautiful. I was told to cover my shoulder when we entered this temple. Good thing I brought a shawl with me.
The last temple we went to was the Wat Maha That. It was considered as one of the most important temples in Ayutthaya. This temple was totally destroyed but restored later. The area of this temple is quite vast and in between the ruins you can roam around and sightsee. You can find the head of the Buddha which is entwined in the roots of a Bodhi tree (a large and ancient sacred fig tree) near the entrance. The head was once part of a sandstone Buddha image which fell off the main body onto the ground. This is where we realized that we (my sisters and I) didn’t have pictures together in two of the temples we’d been to. The twins were always ahead of us, leaving us behind. According to them, they didn’t want to waste time since we were walking too slow and it was very hot. : )
I think there are more or less ten temples to visit in Ayutthaya. But as I have mentioned, one day is not enough to explore the city. Maybe if you start early and spend just thirty minutes in one temple, you can finish visiting the temples in a day. I don’t just visit temples because they are tourist attractions. I explore temples because I’m fascinated by their architecture, their history and their creed. A temple is a symbol of religion and our belief that there is a divine being. It also reminds us that there’s always hope when we have faith.