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Three Countries In Ten Days: Wat Phananchoeng Worawihan Of Ayutthaya

September 11th, 2009 by

There were a multitude of attractions to digest in just one sitting at the Bang Pa In Summer Palace.  The Thai kingdom obviously knew how to properly preserve their country’s royal properties.  Even if we have not fully explored the entire grounds of the summer palace, we had no choice but leave for our next stop as we only had one day to explore Ayutthaya.

Welcome to Wat Phananchoeng Worawihan

From the Bang Pa-In Summer Place, we travelled for less than an hour to reach the Wat Phananchoeng Worawihan.   We were greeted by a disheartening site when we reached the second stop in our itinerary.  There were a lot of buses at the parking lot and there was a long queue of eager visitors at the entrance.  We asked the locals and inquired if there was an excursion and we were informed that a huge group of students arrived to learn more about the giant Buddha image and take part in several cultural traditions.  We were left with no choice but to simply fall in line.  Fortunately, we were ushered to a shorter line that was intended for tourists.  In less than ten minutes, we found ourselves within the temple grounds and about to enter the hall of the giant Buddha image.

Hundreds of metal oil kettles lined the corridor leading to the main hall.  These were pretty to look at and we got to observe locals perform some rituals using the oil kettles.  You could just imagine my excitement when I saw a lot of Thailand Lotus flowers, one of my favorite flowers, being offered by some people in exchange for a few Thai Baht that served as donations.  Along with these Lotus flowers, there were so many incense sticks being sold to interested visitors at the temple’s entrance as well.

The Giant Buddha Image

This particular temple, which is located along the Pasak River, was built in 1324 A. D.  This was twenty six years before Ayutthaya was founded by King Ramathibodi.  One of the most famous attractions of this temple would have to be the giant Buddha image of Ayutthaya, Luang Phor To, a huge U-thong styled statue.  According to the guide that we talked to, the full name of the Buddha image is Phra Buddha Triratananayok.  They added that it is highly revered by Thais most especially those of Chinese descent.  One can get a clearer picture of how big the image is when people stand on its lap.  These people are the ones who were assigned to change the robes of the Buddha as part of their local customs and rituals.  We noticed that baskets of golden orange robes were being “sold” to visitors which can be offered to the Buddha.  When visitors purchase the robes on silver trays, these would have to be handed over to the person in charge at the foot of the Buddha.  This person then was tasked to throw the robes to the person who were standing on the Buddha’s lap and change the robes.  It was truly a fascinating sight.

After viewing the giant Buddha, we left the hall to explore the other sections of the temple.  We went to another equally intriguing area of Chinese Fortune Telling.  We watched as the fortune tellers used a conventional way of scattering sticks and pieces of wood.  The process led the fortune teller to a set of numbers that directed a person to numbered fortunes.  One would had to get the fortune that corresponded to the number that emerged from this extraordinary fortune telling method.

Workship Areas

There were also a lot of other images that can be found within the temple grounds. Huge candles were lighted and the air smelled of heavy Chinese incense.   Locals were paying their respects and were offering all sorts of flowers.  Their eyes were also closed in prayer.

When we left the halls, we proceeded to the rows and rows of stalls outside of the entrance gates near the parking lot.  There were a lot of goodies sold including goodies, local delicacies, and tons of souvenirs.  We decided to do a bit of shopping and purchased some refreshments to cool us down.  I specifically enjoyed buying some packs of my favorite taro chips to snack on while on the road.

Of course, there are other people who would prefer to stay longer than a day in Ayutthaya.  There are various choices when it comes to accommodations.  For one, tourists can stay at the Iudia on the River Hotel Ayutthaya.

As for us, we rode our taxi again to head to the next item in our itinerary.

(To be continued)

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