The Grandest Ruins in Ayutthaya

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Wat Chaiwatthanaram (the Monastery of the Temple for the Advancement of Victory as people translate it), is a restored ruin situated off the city island in the western area in Ban Pom sub-district.

The large monastery is located on the west bank of the present Chao Phraya River in front of the Siriyalai Palace, which is located just across the river. The main access to Wat Chaiwatthanaram was from the river, since the waterways were the most important means of transport during that time.

History of the Wat Chaiwatthanaram

King Prasat Thong (1629-1656) built this royal monastery on the bank of the Chao Phraya River in 1630 in order to gain merit for his foster-mother, as well to show himself as a man of great Buddhist merit; for a political purpose. The temple was constructed on the site where his foster-mother resided in Ayutthaya.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram was one of the grandest and most monumental ruins in Ayutthaya. The construction of the monastery may have taken around 20 years to finish. Since the reign of King Prasat Thong, all Ayutthayan Kings made regularly pilgrimages to this sanctuary and attended royal rituals.

In the last war with Burma (1764-1767), the site may have been used as a fortress as proved by the reinforcement of the walls and the remains of cannons and cannon balls. After the destruction of Ayutthaya by the Burmese, the temple was deserted for more than two centuries. Wat Chaiwatthanaram was not restored until the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.


Wat Chaiwatthanaram


Architecture of the Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Khmer culture was revived with the building of Wat Chaiwatthanaram. The architecture during Prasat Thong’s reign was strongly influenced by Khmer architecture and as thus more closely identified with the Early Ayutthaya period.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram had holy porticos surrounding it and the corners of those holy porticos were intervals. There is a holy recitation hall, a holy preaching hall, and a Buddhist academy. And dormitories were built and presented to the holy monks in great numbers.

The Khmer style central prang

The Late Ayutthaya period begins in 1629 with the reign of King Prasat Thong and is most notable for the square-shaped or indented corners pagodas and for the re-emerging of the prang as the principal monument of the monastery.

There is a 35-meter-high Khmer style prang at the center of Wat Chaiwatthanaram (a tower with corncob shape), which stands on a raised brick platform. In every corner of it, there is a much smaller tower standing. The prang symbolizes Mount Meru, which is a mountain in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology. Mount Meru is believed to be the center of the universe surrounded by oceans.

In each of the four main directions, there is a steep staircase leading to the Prang, And the staircase in the East leads to an inner room, with relics and precious cultural articles being enshrined.


The Tower of Wat Chaiwatthanaram


Galleries surrounding the main prang

The central platform is surrounded by eight chapels with chedi-like shape, which are linked by a rectangular cross-shaped passage. The passage had many side entries and was originally roofed and open afterwards, but today only the foundations of the pillars and the outside wall still exist Along the wall, there were 120 sitting Buddha statues.

The eight chedi-like chapels are formed in a special way. They had paintings on the interior walls, the exterior ones decorated by 12 reliefs depicting stories from the life of Buddha (Jataka), which should be "read" clockwise. However, just fragments of the paintings and the reliefs survived. In each of the rectangular chedis were two sitting Buddha statues and in each of the four middle chedis was one big sitting Buddha statue, also painted in black and gold.


Buddha Statues in Wat Chaiwatthanaram


Other structures

Outside of the passages on the east, close to the river is the temple's ordination hall (Phra Ubosot). North and south from the Ubusot stands two chedis with 12 indented corners, where the ashes of the king's mother were laid. Wat Chaiwatthanaram is an example of symmetry. The temple is built on an east-west axis, oriented to the east; towards the main river and the upcoming sun.

Opening hours & Entrance Fee
Daily from 8 am until 5 pm with entrance fee of 50 Baht each.