Exploring Central Thailand
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Exploring Central Thailand
Sep 10 2011 at 11:33pm
Central Thailand is probably best associated with the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya which nestles on an inland island surrounded by the three rivers of Chao Phraya, Lop Buri and Pasak. Four centuries ago and thirty three kings later, the ruins are enormously eternally impressive. As the palaces and temples were constructed, so too were a fine network of canals and streets. The entire island was then enclosed with a fortified wall some twelve kilometers or seven miles in length.
A population of one million lived within the complex which was also home to over 400 temples. Many of the temples were decorated with gold obtained from trade relations with the Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch, French and British thus allowing the city to prosper remarkable by the 15th century.
Ayutthaya is situated some 85 kilometers or 55 miles North of Bangkok which one can reach either by road or with ease, journey up the Mae Nam Chao Phraya river on one of the deluxe boats. A combination of both can be achieved by taking any number of tours available.
Just like the interiors of many countries, the central plains of Thailand are often overlooked as tourists tend to explore elsewhere either in the north or south of the country instead. Those who discover these regions are pleasantly surprised as the foundations of Thai society and culture are best uncovered here.
Wat Phra Manathat is considered one of the most significant temple complexes in Ayutthaya. Not only is it the largest but it is also the oldest dating as far back as the late 14th century. These ruins are situated towards the northeast end of the island. The splendor of this particular site has got to be it's huge prang which originally stood some 46 metres or 150 feet tall. It later collapsed but was then rebuilt to a height of 50 metres or 163 feet. (see photo at top of page) Not far off from the temple complex, you will find a replica of what it may have looked like in it's glory days. The grounds are open daily from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm.
Wat Ratchaburana is a temple complex situated across the road to the north of Wat Mahathat. It was built between 1424 and 1448 by King Borommaracha ll in remembrance of his two elder brothers who fought for supreme power over the kingdom and yet somehow managed to kill each other. It is certainly one of the finest architectural wonders of the region. Renovations to the site were carried out in 1958 which resulted in the findings of a crypt that contained valuable Buddha images, traces of mural paintings, and golden jewellery, all of which can now be viewed at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum. The grounds are open daily from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.
Sukhothai Historical Park is an impressive historical site in Central Thailand which can be seen from inside the walls of the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai. Fortunately much of this ancient site still remains today. Within the walls of these ruins are some 20 temples and monuments. Sukhothai lies at the northern edge of the central plains 425 kilometers or 255 miles north of Bangkok and 350 kilometers or 210 miles south of Chiang Mai. Open from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm