Ayutthaya – Rising From the Ashes

Ayutthaya is 76km north of Bangkok & boasts numerous magnificent ruins. These ruins indicate that Ayutthaya was one of Southeast Asia’s (and probably the world’s) most prosperous cities in the 17th century & has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since December 1991. Founded around 1350, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam (Thailand) & was considered an ideal location between China, India & Burma.

By 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1-million inhabitants. Merchants set sail for Ayutthaya, from the Arab world, China, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands, & France proclaiming it as the finest city they had ever seen.

Unfortunately this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 & almost completely burned the city to the ground. After a 2-year war the city fell & the Thai’s re-established their power center to what we now know as Bangkok. The Burmese looted the city & beheaded or defaced, many of the statues & carvings in the Wats & temples, however the few remains gave us a glimpse of the impressive city it must have been.

The city is on an island surrounded by a river that serves as transport, bath & kitchen for the residents. The ruins are scattered into two geographical regions, “on the island” or “off the island” & best seen by bicycle. Navigating our way through the city on bikes rented from our B&B, aided by a small map & our trusted ‘Maps.me’ iPad app (an absolute life-saver) we managed to see many of the more popular sites. It’s amazing how some of these structures are still upright, feebly defying gravity. Restoration work has begun on only a small number.

Perhaps in a former life I was an architect, hence my interest & many photos of all the temples shared. I am intrigued & amazed at the various building designs & structures, only imagining how these magnificent buildings were built using the most rudimentary of tools.

The following may help you understand the whats Wat of a temple complex:

Chedi or Stupa- large bell shaped structure symbolizing (from bottom to top) earth, water, fire, & void;

Prang – towering phallic spire of Khmer origin, the same religious purpose as a Chedi;

Wihaan – main temple (assembly hall), location of Buddha & area where people come to make offerings. Typically the building has a 3-tiered roof representing the triple gems-Buddha the teacher, Dharma the teaching & brotherhood the followers.

Heading back to Bangkok via train, we had a short time to connect with our overnight train to Chumphon, a jumping off point for the 3-islands of Ko Tao, Ko Sumui & Ko Pha-Ngan on the southern gulf coast. We are staying 3-nights on each island & may even get to partake of a half-moon party….that is if we can stay up late enough!

Author: Theresa & Bob

We love to wander, aimlessly at times it seems, and will keep moving as far and as long as we can. Serendipity has provided many wonders along the way, when least expected, and we love the anticipation of the 'next great find' just around the corner.

6 thoughts on “Ayutthaya – Rising From the Ashes”

  1. I was there in Ayutthya back in 1985 and will never forget it, amazing ruins, must have been splendid before the invasion. Thank you for the photos and history, feels like I’m there with you. Continue on your WANDERFUL discoveries staying healthy and happy xxxx

  2. Wonderful journaling Theresa, thanks for sharring it with us. Great photos….p.s…love Bob’s shirt!! Keep safe my friends!

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