Saturday, 1 March 2008

Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya

Wat Mahathat is perhaps the most striking of all of the temples in Ayutthaya and is located the very heart of the city.

History 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). In about 1625 the top portion of the prang broke off; it was rebuilt in 1633 some 4 m (13 ft) higher than before.

Later it collapsed again, and only the corners survived. In 1956 a secret chamber was uncovered in the ruins; among the treasures found inside were gold jewelry, a gold casket containing a relic of the Buddha, and fine tableware.

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. 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.

Location: Along Sikhun road near the terminus of Horattanachai and Naresuan

Hours: Daily 8am-6pm

Cost: 30B

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