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Three Countries In Ten Days: Wat Yai Chai Mongkol Of Ayutthaya

September 18th, 2009 by

Our day trip to the olden city of Ayutthaya had been quite fruitful so far.  We already got to visit the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and marveled at the expansive and serene palace grounds.  From here, we proceeded to the Wat Phanachoeng Worawihan to see the big Buddha image.  We even got to witness some of the interesting and extraordinary rituals of the locals.  After we had our fill of all the attractions that we could possibly appreciate within the temple grounds, we left for the third stop in our itinerary. We asked our taxi driver, Phan, as to where we were heading next.  He said that we were in for a good treat.  The next temple in the list was the Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, one of the oldest temples in Ayutthaya.

Welcome to Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

The Wat Yai Chai Mongkol is located at the Southeast side of the city of Ayutthaya.  According to history books and information materials that we received on site, the monastery was built in 1357 A. D. by King U-thong for the use of the monks who came back from Ceylon after a rigorous and intensive study under Phra Vanarat Maha Thera.   These monks were collectively known as the Pa Kaeo Sect.  This was why the monastery’s original name was Wat Pa Kaeo.  The sect that stayed in the monastery was appointed a head and was named The Patriarch on the Right Hand Side by the King.  Given that The Patriarch stayed at the monastery, it was also named Wat Chao Phya Thai which translated to The Temple of the Supreme Patriarch.

During the reign of King Naresuen the Great, in 1592 A.D., the people of Burma tried to conquer Ayutthaya through their strong army.  As expected, King Naresuen the Great tried his best to resist the assault so he decided to fight on his own while riding on an elephant.  He defeated his opponent without any help from his army.  The appointed Patriarch pleaded with the King to forgive the captured Burmese army and suggested that huge chedis be built in memory of the glorious victory.  The King agreed and built a chedi at the scene of the battle in Nong Sarai in Suphanburi province.  A bigger chedi was built in Wat Chao Phya Thai and another one was stationed by the Burmese at Wat Phu Khao Thong.  There was another chedi which was built by King Naresuen the Great.  The chedi was called Phra Chedi Chai Mongkhol or Chedia of the Auspicios Victory.  It became popularly known as the Phra Chedi Yai or the Great Pagoda.  In later years, the Chao Phya Thai was called the Wat Yai Chai Mongkol. The victory of King Naresuan brought independence back to Ayutthaya after fifteen long years of being under Burmese rule.

Reclining Buddha of Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

When we reached the entrance, we immediately bought our tickets.  We had to pay about 20 Baht for each ticket.  While touring the temple grounds, we got to see a lot of interesting sights.  Not so far from the entrance, we saw a huge image of a reclining Buddha.  It was pretty big that we had difficulty trying to angle our camera so that we can get a full shot of the Buddha.  After numerous tries, we finally got a good shot so we positioned ourselves in front of the image and fired our cameras.  Great thing, we brought our tripod.

After we took photos of the reclining Buddha, we walked on and saw the magnificent looking bell-shaped chedi.  It measured an impressive sixty meters high.  It looked so close to the sky given that this chedi was constructed on a mound of ground.  To reach the top, one had to go up hundreds of steps.  Some of the locals told us that the chedi exhibited signs of tilting but it was still safe to enter by climbing the stairs.

Hundreds of Buddhas around Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

Of course, we did not miss the opportunity to climb up.  We were so glad that we did not back down as the view was breathtaking at the top.  The air was surprisingly very cool in spite of the scorching heat of the blazing sun.  At that vantage point, we also saw the entire temple grounds and realized that there were so many visitors roaming freely and exploring the glorious temple.  We were also quite fascinated with what seemed like hundreds of Buddha images that surrounded the chedi.  When we reached the back portion of the temple grounds, we saw another attraction — the statue of King Naresuen the Great.  This particular image was visited not only by tourist but also by locals.  The statue is highly revered by the Thai people.

It took us more than an hour to explore the entire grounds of the Wat Yai Chai Mongkol.  We were happy with what we have seen and what we have learned so far.  But still, there are other things to explore in Ayutthaya.  So, we left for the next item in our itinerary.

Note:  Those who would like to stay longer in Ayutthaya can book splendid rooms in any of the reputable hotels in the city like the The Lima Place Ayuthaya.

2 Responses to “Three Countries In Ten Days: Wat Yai Chai Mongkol Of Ayutthaya”

  1. Ikai Says:

    Those are really awesome pictures Kitci!

  2. Marygrace Says:

    Hi there! Kitci!

    Thank you for sharing this blog, info….i would really appreciate if you could reply to me in a separate email, on how to reach Ayyuthaya……I would love to go there by ourselves and not through any travel agent/tour

    Thank you so much!
    Grace

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