Ayuthaya was ruled by 33 kings of five dynasties and some among them have built Wats in honor of their beloved ones or to signify a victory in war. Many of those Wats have withstood the test of time. Walking through the ruins of those Wats gave me goose pimples to think how the place would have once reverberated with life. There must have been music, hymns and chants of priests echoing in these places, the kings walked through these same corridors centuries back; can I faintly hear the music, the King’s footsteps? Ruins never cease to excite me.
Wat Chaiwattanaram was built in 1629 by King Prasat Tong, on the site of his mother’s cremation. It was a gift from a son to his mother. The place reminded me of Taj of Deccan which too was built for the same sentiments. From a distance, the huge prangs seemed to beckon. There was a tall one (35m) in the center of a courtyard with chapels in four corners and smaller prangs in between them.
Along the inner walls of the courtyard were seated Buddha images in a line, most of them damaged and broken at the neck. How would you feel walking through these corridors with head less Buddha images lined in one side? There were 120 Buddha images in the attitude of Maravijaya (victory over Mara, the evil one.) along the gallery.
The chapels had crowned Buddha images, the ceilings were black. Were they the signs of fire that damaged this monastery? The King and his descendants performed religious rites here. The complex was also used as a cremation site for the princes, princesses and other royal members of the family.
In 1767 A.D. Ayuthaya the capital of Thailand was besieged by Burmese invaders and the Wat became an army camp. After the mighty empire of Ayuthaya fell, the Wat was abandoned. Soon the inhabitants around were looting the Wat, damaging the statues and were removing the bricks for various purposes. In 1987 the conservation of Wat was taken up by the Fine Arts Dept. and the work was competed in 1992. It is maintained very beautifully today.
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