Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
While traveling in Bangkok, I felt the need to escape the busy city and head out for a day adventure out to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. About a half hour train ride out of the city I arrived in the Ancient Kingdom of Ayutthaya. The new city is encrusted with the ruins of the ancient capital. Ayutthaya was built in the year 1350 and stood tall up until the 18th century.
Brief History of Ayutthaya
Within the 1700’s, the city quickly became trading grounds for people to sell produce, rice, and a variety of food and hand-made products. Countries all over Asia, as well as other countries, would set up posts outside of the city for trade. This went on for many years and Ayutthaya soon became one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities in the east.
The city was built like no other, surrounded by three rivers – the Chao Phraya River, the Lopburi River and the Pa Sak River – which made it an impressive destination for all visitors.
Throughout the city’s history, there were many downfalls with a war against the Burmese. By 1767, the massive kingdom that once stood was taken over and destroyed by the Burmese. It is a mystery how this happened with the city being one of the most defensible, as it is surrounded by rivers and built in a perfect square. As seen in all the temples, the Burmese had destroyed the heads of the majority of the Buddha statues.
Now, Ayutthaya remains as an archaeological site and provides important information into Thailand’s history.
My Experience in Ayutthaya
Upon arrival into the city by train, I rented a bicycle to get around for the day. I bought a map and headed out on a day’s adventure. With over 2,000 temples, I knew I had to choose carefully which temples I wanted to see that day.
There is something beautiful about archaeological sites – to picture the people and culture of what once was. To stand where millions of others stood but hundreds of years before. To learn the history of the people and what was important in their time.
I noticed the same theme popping up each time I entered the temple grounds – all the Buddha statues were missing their heads. I quickly learned this was due to the Burmese attack and destruction of the kingdom. It was eerie and saddening all in the same to think of the culture that was lost, the people that were killed, and the history that had taken place.
Upon entering Wat Mahathat, I had the opportunity to see something quite extraordinary. With all the destroyed and missing Buddha heads, there is one that remains, fully intact. It is hidden amongst the roots of an old tree and hard to come across. It has become entwined within the tree, with the roots growing around it. It is sites like this that make me realize how important it is to travel and learn the cultures and history of our world!