You can tell from the title that I'm rather uncomfortable with this post as I enter the domain of our resident Hive Temple lover and expert wattologist, @macchiata who I hope will be tempted to hop over to Thailand and do this temple justice one day.
Until then however, you will have to make do with the
slightly very irreverent @nathen007 version. I've pissed off every other religion in the past so it's about time I upset the Buddhists.
First thing is to give a little mention to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is one of the most historical and spiritual places in Thailand and for a while, was the capital of the country back when it was called Siam. Previously though, the whole of what we know as Thailand was called the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. If you're a history buff, the whole area has a fascinating and complex past so I'll drop a few links at the end of the post for some further reading. It's also been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991 and is one of the most visited parts of Thailand, sitting as it does just 60km North of Bangkok and attracting tourists to its laid-back and chilled out vibe and open spaces as much it's plentiful history.
The ancient part of town sits on an island in the Chao Praya river and was chosen as it was above the tidal part of the river and as such, was unable to be attacked by warships from foreign nations who were not averse to smidge of colonialism. Ahem. Clever Thais!
However, the city was burned and razed in 1767 by close neighbours, Burma with whom that Thais have always had a rather fractious relationship with and this sent its inhabitants scurrying off to Bangkok. The city, or what was left of it, and the temples lay abandoned and ruined until someone had the bright idea of dual-charging gullible foreigners to visit and thus it was turned into a huge Buddhist Theme park and spiritual retreat for those too lazy to travel down to Koh Phangan for their colonic irrigations.
Anyway. We ended up back in Ayutthaya for the second time in a week after the wife read about a new walking street that was open as a trial for a couple of weekends and as we'd had a couple of cancellations,
we she decided to go and have a look.
The traffic was horrendous but we managed to park not too far away in a car park belonging to Wat Mahathat temple and best of all, it was free. Except the wife decided to come over all proud and Thai and wanted to have a walk around the temple ruins and take selfies, which is what proud Thais do!
The entrance fee was just 15baht for her (0.35GBP, 0.50USD) but for Johnny foreigner, it was 50Baht. Obviously we have bigger feet and thus trample the ruins more than the petite Thais.
Of course, there were a smug Filipino family who went in before us and never spoke, just shoved the Thai price under the counter and kept walking then had the audacity to turn around and give me a cheeky smile!
I have to be honest. I thought I'd just paid to visit an old brickworks...
The construction of Wat Maha That (Wat=Temple in Thai) was started in 1374 with the building of the main pagoda, which subsequently collapsed. It was rebuilt during a huge renovation in 1633 which I'm guessing is the ruins we're looking at today although I had never realised that red bricks were used for construction way back then!
As I mentioned earlier, it was then demolished by the rampant, marauding Burmese in 1767.
To be fair, it must have been a very impressive structure in its time. Looking at the amount of bricks solidly built to form the foundations and pillars, it is no wonder so much survived. Without plans or knowledge of modern structural engineering, everything looked over engineered and stoically put together.
As a tourist attraction, it's great. very well kept, clean and tidy and with enough information boards to give you an idea of what you're looking at but not so may that they become obtrusive and spoil the selfies. Many of them have QR codes to scan if you wish to read further.
One final thing before we go through the rest of the photos is that I don't have a problem holding the camera straight! Many of these crumbling structures were in fact leaning at alarming angles.
Let's Get Into This...
This is what it would have looked like in its prime. I'm not a fan of visiting ruins but its always nice to get an image in your head to be able to visualise what piles of bricks would go where. Sorry about the birdshit!
I also took a picture of this so you can work out what all the bits of the temple are called. I'm spoiling you!
This is one of only a couple of complete Buddha statues remaining intact.
Here is one that is obviously not in one piece, the head is missing but not completely...
As it rolled across the way where it lay abandoned until some trees grew and it re-emerged between the trunk and roots! This is probably one of the most taken pictures on the whole site but it comes with a warning...
They don't mind you taking selfies with it, but in doing so, your head must not be shown above Buddha's. They are rather touchy about this!
As you can see on the wall, there was another sign with warnings about what not to do on it!
It's a real pity about the 'no climbing' rule. Imagine getting a shot of yourself stood on top of that doing a moonie? Childish. Yes. Hilarious. Absolutely.
Looking at the state of that, they obviously used the same builders who built our house.
Yes, I know there are a lot of bricks! I'm trying my best here.
Around the main structure at the center of the temple ran a wall, along which sat the remains of many statuettes.
I always thought Buddha was a bit of a bloater as he is often depicted as such but I'm guessing this was made in his likeness before KFC came to Thailand.
There was nothing inside. I did take a peek!
"Enough!" I hear you cry...
There are many other similar ruins scattered around Ayutthaya historical park so the rewards on this post will dictate whether I go back and post more. Reward it well, there will be no more temples! Poor rewards, I'll have you begging for mercy with temples. Your choice!