Day trip to the Ancient Capital of Thailand
28.02.2013 37 °C
Ayutthaya lies 52 miles (85 kilometres) north of Bangkok and was one of the ancient capitals of Thailand until it was destroyed by the invading Burmese Army in 1767. For over 400 years it prospered and was covered in temples and after its destruction was replaced by Bangkok built on newly exposed land in the Gulf of Siam.
On the way we visited the Royal Palace at Bang Pa-in most of which was built between 1872-1889 and is still used occasionally by the King and Queen of Thailand for hosting state receptions and banquets. The grounds are very ornate and are built in a european style. in the centre of the gardens is the Aisawan-dhipaya-asana Pavilion surrounded by a pond in which we could feed bread to some very energetic turtles and fish! The Royal Palace itself is a two storey manaion built in the Chinese style containing an impressive throne room on the ground floor.
About an hour's drive later we reached Ayutthaya which is a UNESECO World Heritage Site. In 1700 Ayutthaya ideally situated for trade between India, China and Malaya was the largest city in the world with a population of about 1 million people. The Wat Maha That Temple seemed the most impressive part of the site with its pagoda towering above the ruins and the evocative sandstone buddha mostly buried and overgrown by a tree.
We then moved on to Wat Na Phra Mane, the only part of Ayutthaya not destroyed by the invading Burmese Army in 1767 as it was used as their headquarters. The Buddha is unusual in that it is dressed in Royal Attire, as with all Buddhist Temples we hasd to remove our shoes before entering.
Our final stop at Ayutthaya before a boat trip back to Bangkok was to the temple at Wat Lokayasutharam which holds one of the largest Reclining Buddha Images (although not as large as the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho that I saw the previous day).
Passing rice paddy fields on the way, we then met up with a cruise boat and had a very tasty Thai Buffet Lunch as we floated down the river back to Bangkok. Amongst the temples and houses on stilts the peppered along the shore we also passed landing craft given to the Thai military by the USA following the Vietnam War and the shed containing the Royal Barges now used only for ceremonial occasions.