Phra Nakhorn Si Ayutthaya
Phra Nakhorn Si Ayutthaya Province
January 2, 2023
“Dress-up Day” at Wat Chai Wattanaram
After he read one of my recent posts, a friend in Bangkok wrote, “I learned something.” A comment like this is most rewarding. The goals for my website have always been “To Entertain, To Educate, To Encourage.”
On my return trip to Ayutthaya, I also decided to learn something. I carefully read the guide in the hotel lobby. Here is a bit of history:
“Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 following a smallpox epidemic that ravaged the neighboring city of Lopburi. According to the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya, King U-Thong and his troops trekked for days before arriving at a river. On the other side they found an island surrounded by rice fields and three merging rivers. The king established his new capital there.
History tells us that Ayutthaya grew into a major kingdom of central Thailand.
In the middle of the 15th Century, the kingdom covered most of modern-day Thailand. It was a vast amphibious city built on canals which have now largely disappeared. By 1685 the population of Ayutthaya was approximately one million. They mostly lived on houseboats in a 140 km waterways network. (In comparison, London had about half the number of people at that time.)
For may centuries, the city was an important international center of commerce, arts, and politics. Interaction and trade with foreigners thrived. Ayutthaya became one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Foreign visitors to the city in the 17th Century including diplomats and traders, claimed that Ayutthaya was the most glittering and distinguished city they had ever seen.
At one point Ayutthaya has more than 400 temples. The city had great wealth and attracted foreign expatriates who worked as navigators, architects, royal bodyguards (Japanese Samurai) and even prime ministers.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya lasted 417 years (1350-1767).
Thirty-five kings ruled.
Twenty-three Burmese invasions were repelled.
In 1767, the Burmese soldiers and warrior elephants invaded the kingdom once again. The city was devastated. Many magnificent structures were destroyed. They lopped off the heads of the Buddhas.
Ayutthaya’s golden age of prosperity and stability ended abruptly.
Yet on this golden day in January, the citizens of Ayutthaya celebrate their grand history with color, civility, dignity, and grace.