Nine Temples in Ayutthaya: Exotic Pilgrimage in the Historical City

Ayutthaya, the old city of Thailand, is renowned for its Buddhist temples. These temples hold great cultural and historical value, attracting pilgrims from all over the world. The city is home to nine temples that are considered prestigious and offer a unique pilgrimage experience. This article will provide detailed information about each of these temples, their significance, and how to reach them.

1. Wat Yai Chai Mongkol:
Situated on the eastern side of Ayutthaya, Wat Yai Chai Mongkol is a prominent landmark in the city. The temple features a magnificent bell-shaped pagoda on an elevated square base, surrounded by four smaller pagodas at the corners. At the entrance, there is a colossal reclining Buddha statue. Built in 1357, this temple served as a training ground for monks ordained and trained at the Monastery of Phra Wanaratanathen in Sri Lanka.

2. Wat Pananchoeng:
Located on the southeastern corner of Ayutthaya, Wat Pananchoeng is a temple that is always bustling with pilgrims. The main attraction of this temple is the gigantic principal Buddha image known as “Luang Por To.” This statue, standing at a height of 62 feet, depicts the Subduing Mara Attitude. Considered one of the largest and most revered Buddha images in Thailand, it is a symbol of beauty and spirituality.

3. Wat Phra Si Sanphet:
Part of the Royal Palace complex, Wat Phra Si Sanphet is a large monastery with structures exclusively built for royal usage. The temple comprises three elegant bell-shaped pagodas standing on an elevated platform. These pagodas house the ashes of Ayutthaya kings. Wat Phra Si Sanphet was also home to the gilded Buddha statue of Si Sanphet, which stood at a towering height of 16 meters.

4. Viharn Pra Mongkolborpit:
Adjacent to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Viharn Pra Mongkolborpit is situated in the heart of the Historical Park. This temple houses a gigantic gilded bronze Buddha image in the attitude of Subduing Mara. Standing at a height of 40 feet, the image and the viharn were severely damaged during the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. However, they were restored in the 1950s, preserving their historical and cultural significance.

5. Wat Ratburana:
Wat Ratburana stands out with its 15th-century Khmer-style stupa, symbolizing Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology. The temple showcases fine stucco ornamentation and sculptures of mythical creatures such as Garudas and Nagas. Despite its age, the intricate details of the temple are still visible, attracting visitors with a passion for ancient architecture.

6. Wat Na Phra Meru:
Considered one of the most beautiful temples in Ayutthaya, Wat Na Phra Meru has miraculously survived the ravages of war. Visitors are captivated by the principal Buddha image, adorned in the attire of an ancient king, as well as the stunning murals depicting scenes from the past. This temple serves as a testament to the resilience and beauty of Ayutthaya’s cultural heritage.

7. Wat Mahathat:
Wat Mahathat, once a revered temple enshrining Buddha relics, served as the seat of the Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism. This temple witnessed important royal ceremonies, including the Royal Kathin. However, what truly makes Wat Mahathat special is the iconic head of a Buddha sculpture encircled by the roots of a tree. This mystical sight has become an iconic symbol of Ayutthaya.

8. Wat Phutthai Sawan:
Dating back to 1353, Wat Phutthai Sawan is one of the oldest temples in Ayutthaya. The main attraction of this temple is its Khmer-style prang, located in the center of a square cloister. The prang houses hundreds of Buddha images and represents the cosmic Mount Meru. Visitors are enchanted by the temple’s historical significance and the serene atmosphere it offers.

9. Wat Chaiwatthanaram:
Considered one of the most impressive temples in Ayutthaya, Wat Chaiwatthanaram showcases the Khmer architectural style. Located opposite the southwest corner of the historical island, this temple offers breathtaking views from across the Chao Phraya River. A boat ride to the temple provides visitors with a unique perspective of this well-preserved monastery.

Ayutthaya’s nine temples offer a mesmerizing pilgrimage experience, immersing visitors in the rich cultural heritage of Thailand. Each temple has its own distinct features and historical significance, providing a glimpse into the city’s glorious past. From the grandeur of Wat Yai Chai Mongkol to the serenity of Wat Mahathat, these temples are a testament to Ayutthaya’s spiritual and architectural prowess. To explore these temples, travelers can easily reach Ayutthaya, located 60 miles north of Bangkok, via highway 9. Embarking on this exotic pilgrimage promises an unforgettable journey filled with beauty, tranquility, and spiritual enlightenment.

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